Miami Approves Study Of Midtown Miami Streetcar Proposal
By Yeleny Suarez
Miami city commissioners approved spending $550,000 for a study of a proposed streetcar in the Midtown Miami project.
"This is an ongoing study. If we do not address this particular item now, it could impact us anywhere from $5 million to $8 million in the future," said Alicia Cuervo Schreiber, chief of operations for City Manager Joe Arriola.
The money is to come from the city’s share of Miami-Dade County’s half-cent transit surtax. A revised agreement between the city and the Midtown Miami Community.will supplant an agreement approved Dec. 9 by the commission that includes $613,000 for conceptual and final design services and permit modifications.
The study is to evaluate the feasibility of a streetcar operation between downtown Miami and Northeast 79th Street along a north-south corridor and the redeveloping Buena Vista Rail Yard Area.
Midtown Miami is a 56-acre development planned for Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood north of the Performing Arts Center. The Midtown Community Development District is a political subdivision that allows public financing of the project. The city and county approved its creation in late 2003 at the request of developers.
Developer Midtown Group plans a mixed-use project to include 3,000 condos, 900 rental units, office space, retail space and a spa. The first phase of construction is to begin early this year and be completed in 2006.
The second part of the project, the Shops of Midtown Miami, a 600,000-square-foot shopping center, is to be created by Diversified Realty of Ohio.
City Commissioner Johnny Winton said the county should help pay for transportation projects. "This a transit program. They need to be paying for it. They need to be paying for ongoing operations," he said.
"The key point is the county needs to get out of the municipal service business and focus on regional issues. One issue that is crystal-clear and they are directly responsible for is transportation," he said.
"They are giving us part of the sales tax to do that, but the fact of the matter is the more transit, the greater a system we create for transit, the sooner we are going to have a community that will allow us to move around in the city of Miami in particular. We are not going to build any more roads or widen any roads because there are not any more places where we can widen the roads."
Ms. Schreiber said the commission would get a presentation on the streetcar study by the end of next month. "Maintenance and government issues are a discussion that should be ongoing after that," she said.
"The decision on who pays for operating has not been decided and the cost has not been identified," Commissioner Winton said. "When we get the feasibility study, we are going to know, and then we are all going to start working on recruiting this land because it is in fact transit, and transit is a county home."