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Front Page » Top Stories » Grove Advisors Get First Look At Plan For Waterfront

Grove Advisors Get First Look At Plan For Waterfront

Written by on April 19, 2007

By Risa Polansky
After two years of planning, designers last week unveiled a proposed revamping of Coconut Grove’s waterfront to community members and the city’s Waterfront Advisory Board.

Sasaki Associates’ preliminary plan calls for more open space, pedestrian connectivity to the waterfront and segregated sailing and motorized boat areas to make better and safer use of the water.

"The biggest changes people will see will be the creation of open space with the suggested demolition of the Coconut Grove Exposition Center facilities and the relocation of both the Sailing Club and the Shake-A-Leg facilities to a sailing-center location," said Enrique Nunez, chief of urban design for the City of Miami.

Designers are "working on preliminary cost estimates and looking at phasing strategies and which elements could be implemented first," he said, and Sasaki will present a final plan to the city commission in June.

"One component that could be implemented relatively fast could be the demolition of the exposition center, preparing it as an open-space park and reorganizing the parking," Mr. Nunez said. "That would give immediate open space and start preparing an area that could be used for construction staging of different improvements along the waterfront."

The plan calls for a community center to be built where the expo center currently stands. It was long empty before Twentieth Century Fox swooped in this month to begin filming a television series in the facility.

The production company is aware that the center’s days could be numbered — and District 2 Commissioner Marc Sarnoff hopes they are.

"What it means in the City of Miami is that every time you say the word "temporary,’ people tend to morph it into "permanent,’" Mr. Sarnoff said. He said he hopes the production is "merely a stop-gap measure" until the center is demolished.

Removal of the center, Mr. Nunez said, "opens up a continuous green space from Peacock Park all the way over to Pan American Drive, which opens up opportunities to open lawns, an amphitheater, places for mixed active and passive recreational opportunities."

Another of the plan’s significant changes is a parking garage lined with marina-related retail or office space where there is now surface parking at South Bayshore and Pan American drives.

The structure would be no more than three stories and no taller than the marina hangers, Mr. Nunez said.

Despite suggestions from community members that the plan call for relocation of Miami City Hall from Dinner Key to allow for a Pan American museum, "I don’t foresee it being implemented in the near future or the long term," Mr. Nunez said. "That has been functioning as a seat of government and will remain there."

However, City Hall’s surrounding parking will be restructured, allowing for landscaped plaza spaces and walkways, connecting South Bayshore Drive to the waterfront, Mr. Nunez said.

There is no funding in place for the implementation of the plan, Mr. Nunez said.

It could come from private sources, he said, and there is a possibility the city and county could partner in the future to create a parks and open space bond program to fund the many proposed master plans in the area, including Virginia Key’s and Bicentennial Park’s as well as Coconut Grove’s.