By Arsht Center Staff
What will we call it? How will people get there? What needs to happen to encourage people to live, work and play there? As the Adrienne Arsht Center leads an ongoing community-wide discussion about the evolution of its downtown Miami neighborhood, the questions – and possible solutions – keep coming.
The latest conversation occurred April 9, 2012, at a public meeting of Miami-Dade County’s Recreation & Cultural Affairs Committee, where Arsht Center CEO John Richard and Armando Codina, chair of the non-profit Town Square Neighborhood Development Corp. created to focus on the neighborhood effort, sought input for the area’s vision. Equipped with a dynamic, multi-media Prezi presentation, Richard and Codina have been meeting with individual property owners, elected officials, community organizations and other stakeholders from the area to share the Center’s aspirational blueprint for its surroundings and spark discussion about creating a vibrant, livable district inspired by downtown Miami’s thriving arts scene.
Funding for development of the master plan came in part from a grant to the Arsht Center from ArtPlace, a collaboration of eleven of the nation’s top foundations, including Knight Foundation, working with eight federal agencies and six of the nation’s largest banks to invest in vibrant, diverse arts-and-culture strategies with potential to transform communities.
Drafted by the Arsht Center’s original designers, Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, the master plan lays a loose framework for the neighborhood. It calls for open spaces, connectivity through public transportation and walkable streets, and balanced density, with memorable landmarks and mixed residential and commercial building heights. City and county urban planners and state transportation experts, among others, have been a part of the planning process from the start, with others weighing in since the “living” plan was unveiled at a public town hall meeting on Feb. 1, 2012, at the Center.
In the past eight months, the Miami-Dade County Mayor’s Office, The Trust for Public Land, Miami Art Museum, Miami Science Museum, Miami-Dade County Public Schools and the Florida Department of Transportation, along with individual property owners and others, have been a part of the consensus-building effort.
A website devoted to the plan continues to seek public input through an online communication system. The site also shares the latest Prezi presentation,http://townsquaremiami.org/master-plan/.
“We cannot afford not to do something,” Codina said. “It’s very hard to advocate if you don’t have a plan. This is just the beginning of the dialogue. We hope the neighborhood is going to be developed respectfully.”