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Posts Tagged ‘Miami River’

According to historian Henry Howe, Miami means “mother” in the Ottawa language and this was the word that designated one of the original Indian tribes who lived in the Miami valley. They would go up and down the river on their canoes, and this is also how the first white settlers arrived in Miami, around 1800, coming from the Ohio River to the upper portion of Florida. The Miami River hosts a few historic landmarks of Miami, such as Lummus Park, created in 1909, which entered the U.S. National Register of Historic Place in 2006 and Garcia’s, a fishing place and a restaurant which opened 35 years ago.

Miami River Greenway

Miami River Greenway

I recently attended a river tour, organized by the Miami Association of Realtors, which clearly showed how the Miami River area has been cleaned-up and revitalized over the past few years and, welcoming new residential projects, restaurants and waterfront walking pathways, which have have turned it into one of the most dynamic neighborhoods of Miami. It crosses various neighborhoods such as Brickell, Downtown, Little Havana, Allapattah and Overtown. A $89 million project cleaned-up the contaminated river water a few years ago. The Greenway, a public walking and bicycle trail, created in 2001, is still expanding along the historic Miami river. It offers waterfront landscaping and exercise opportunities, information kiosks, lighting, benches and outdoor art installations for residents and tourists. It goes along new residential towers, older and newer restaurants such as the to-be-seen-at Seasalt and Pepper as well as local marine businesses ( seawall designers, commercial fishing companies… etc ). On the upper side of the river, the Miami Mega Yacht Club will provide with 16 boat slips and a clubhouse and add another venue to the Epic Hotel and Marina to keep mega yachts. The medical and civic center, where the University of Miami medical school and hospital as well as where the Miami Richard E. Gerstein Justice building stand, are located east of the Miami River.

River Landing, the mixed-use project that will offer a mix of 445 residential homes, and 500,000 sf of retail, hopes to attract some of the 40,000 people who go to work daily to the medical and civic center. A few big box scale retailers have already signed-up such as LA Fitness. Also, the river is just a few blocks away from the Miami Marlins Park stadium and Little Havana. Going South of this area lies Snug Harbor, close to Point Park, where a low-density neighborhood showcases historical homes. I was told that one of them just sold for $1.5 millions.

Miami River marine business

Miami River marine business

Further South, in Brickell, Brickell City Centre, the $1 billion project developed by Hong-Kong based Swire Properties, is under construction and offers to purchase apartment/condos facing the river ( for some of them ). Also, a few new residential building have been announced such as 444 Brickell and Edge on Brickell. The Miami River commission just approved the construction of Sushi Samba and Duck & Waffle restaurants to be designed in a unique glass an wood design overlooking the river. Green spaces, business opportunities and life are indeed booming by the Miami River.

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River LandingMany of the current urban developments under way or soon to start in the Miami area are targeting a sophisticated clientele looking to live, work or just get entertained in a luxurious environment, filled with high-end brands and services. River Landing is a much different project as it will be catering to the middle class, which is also what South Florida is made of ( believe it or not ). This is the third mega project taking place in the City of Miami, together with Brickell CityCenter and the Miami Design District, as a result of the Miami 21 zoning code which aims at developing mixed-use projects and pedestrian areas. The sf 2 million development, which construction will start at the beginning of 2014, will be sitting where the current Mahi Shrine Auditorium is. River Landing will include over 400 new residential units, retail, restaurants and parking. It will also be offering a promenade, going from the center to a 50-foot-wide landscaped river walk. This mixed-used development will be located close to the many medical facilities such as the Miami-Dade Medical Center Campus, the UM Medical Center and the Justice Center…a neighborhood that definitely needs some pedestrian life and entertainment. Retailers such as Ross, TJ Max and Old Navy have apparently already signed long-term leases there.

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Waterfront walkway in the Brickell area

Waterfront walkway in the Brickell area

After years of discussion and often conflicting views, The City of Miami and Miami-Dade County are finally moving forward with creating continuous waterfront walkways along the Miami River and from Biscayne Bay- Edgewater to the Rickenbacker Causeway. I wrote a post about new constructions and restaurants located along the Miami River a while ago, but some of these projects have changed and the waterfront walking areas have extended or are about to be created. Miami is an incredible city in many ways but despite the fact that it’s surrounded by water and has a river that runs through it, it’s not organized at all when it comes to walking along the water ( not the beach ). Furthermore, many portions of the city lack trees that bring shade. Unlike cities around the world like Tampa, Sydney or Paris, many of the Miami waterfront walking paths are not connected to each other and the main reason for it is due to the fact that these potentially pedestrian areas are a mix of privately and publicly owned pieces of land. Also, the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve Act protects some portions of the bay from local development. As an example of the conflicting situations raised by the development of the 15-mile waterfront route is what is happening between Ugo Colombo, the developer of glamorous Epic condominium and hotel and the City of Miami. The developer was supposed to tear down its sales center a while ago, as it is obstructing the continuity of the waterfront walkways in the Downtown area.

What is currently happening in Downtown Miami, where Museum Park will be hosting a waterfront pedestrian promenade, will surely boost the development of continuous walkways. Area residents and tourists will find so pleasant to walk around instead of always jumping in a taxi or in their car that these new habits should motivate building owners, activists and public officials to move the idea further. However, these simple changes require a lot of legal settlements and funding sources. FIND, the Florida Inland Navigation District gave a $5.8 million grant to help develop waterfront projects behind the American Airlines Arena, including seawall designing, permitting, construction, landscaping and lighting.

Future Flagler On The River rental condo and office space building

Future Flagler On The River rental condo and office space building

The development of waterfront walking, running, rollerblading and cycling will hopefully become an increasing attraction in Miami, for residents and visitors alike and the opening of more waterfront restaurants will surely enhance business and entertainment opportunities. Also, a few waterfront condominium and office buildings will see their occupancy rate  and value grow as these projects are coming along, such as buildings like Icon Brickell, Ivy, Mint etc… Also, Flagler On The River, a rental condominium building started construction a few months ago. It is located on the Miami Rover, at 356 W Flagler street and will offer 300 rental units located on 32 floors, as well as office space and a waterfront restaurant on the first floor.

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