Filling the hole in Miami’s doughnut

Much has been made of the building boom underway in and around downtown Miami. And while dozens of new residential and commercial developments are underway and cranes are popping up on a nearly daily basis, a swath of 30 acres in the heart of the city’s urban core remains idle.

Now that’s about to change following a unanimous vote cast by Miami’s City Commission on September 29th which granted zoning approval for Miami Worldcenter, a master-planned, mixed-use project that will include world-class retail, residential towers, and an expo center and adjacent hotel that will elevate the long-dormant neighborhood to destination status. The project promises to ‘fill’ the proverbial hole in downtown Miami’s doughnut.

Phase 1 Aerial (2014)
Bloomberg News
reports on the project’s anticipated impacts within downtown Miami’s Park West neighborhood — including improvements to area transit links and streets, the arrival of luxury hotel rooms, and the promise of attracting large-scale conferences and events to downtown for the first time in the City’s history.

All of this development and infrastructure will be situated at the intersection of some of Miami’s most dynamic areas, including the Arts and Entertainment District, Museum Park and the Central Business District:

“It’s a blank canvas. If you look at the transportation they are planning for this area, the new convention space plus the Worldcenter, these will be huge catalysts,” City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff tells Bloomberg News.

Miami Worldcenter - Entry Plaza 04.25.14It’s no secret why this activity has taken decades to get underway. A new demographics report conducted by the Miami Downtown Development Authority finds that Greater downtown Miami’s population has doubled since 2000, with the area’s median household income hovering above $90,000.

That surge in residents, coupled with the sheer volume of wealth in the area, is spurring interest among retailers from around the world. Miami Worldcenter will feature a 760,000 square foot retail mall anchored by Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, along with a retail pedestrian promenade connecting the expo center with the bay front to the east.

When the dust settles and the project is completed, downtown Miami will have a new focal point, tens of thousands of people will have new jobs, tourists from around the world will have a new destination, and thousands of residents will have a new place to call home.

Groundbreaking, set for early 2015, can’t come soon enough.