Miami Beach gets OK to
add 163rd mall to plans
A City of North Miami Beach plan to revitalize the municipality's main business corridor got a needed endorsement from Miami-Dade County to incorporate the struggling 163rd Street Mall into the city's vision.
The 55-acre mall, opened in 1956, anchors one end of what the city envisions as a pedestrian-friendly main street. But the shopping center itself is critically situated on unincorporated county land.
The stretch eyed for redevelopment runs along 164th Street between Northeast 15th Avenue and West Dixie Highway into the mall property.
At the other end sits Laurenzo's Italian Specialty Food Market, a landmark North Miami Beach establishment.
"These two places are icons that makes our best bet for a main street," said Keven Klopp, North Miami Beach assistant city manager.
"Now, Miami-Dade commissioners have agreed to incorporate ideas from the city's plan with their own countywide design guidelines as future tenants or landowners come forward with development proposals.
"We have a very unique city," said North Miami Beach Mayor Jeffrey Mishcon. "The mall is not within the city limits. We have a doughnut a hole in the city that is unincorporated Dade. The plan encompassed both areas. But in Miami-Dade County we don't have any jurisdiction.
For the past nine months, North Miami Beach planners have communicated to county officials their plans for an improved city and officially asked for the county to back their vision two months ago, Mr. Klopp said.
Timing could prove to be critical. The commission's backing comes on the heels of interest from giant retailer Walmart to buy a northeast parcel of the mall, said Mr. Mishcon.
North Miami Beach planners now are on the verge of choosing developers to break ground on one of seven blocks along 164th Street plans based on a charrette held in 1999.
A charrette is a series of meetings between architects, planners, business leaders and residents to arrive at a communal vision for an area.
An estimated $600,000 price tag will be attached to the block-long piece of the project, $200,000 of which will be paid for with county community development block grants, Mr. Klopp said. The project runs along Northeast 164th Street between 18th and 19th avenues.
About six months ago, Walmart began showing interest in buying the about 21-acre northeast parcel of the mall and is expected to submit a design proposal to the county in June, Mr. Klopp said.
Walmart representatives have also expressed interest in the charrette's vision and a willingness to work with that plan, said North Miami Beach planning officials.
Walmart representatives could not be reached for comment.
Mall tenants now include Marshall's and Home Depot.
Lee Rawlinson, Miami-Dade director of planning, said that the North Miami Beach plan is a good one and that the resolution encourages the county to strive to implement its own guidelines, which are in line with those set at the charrette.
"We'll try to implement those guidelines with as much muscle as we have. That means mixed uses, landscaping, a finer grain of road grid, parking behind buildings," Mr. Rawlinson said.
The county's resolution to support North Miami Beach's vision for redevelopment passed last week just hours after Miami-Dade
commissioners killed a separate proposed amendment that was born out of a Kendall community charrette.
The commission voted against an amendment that would have meant the narrowing of a portion of Kendall Drive near the Dadeland Mall to create a similar main street after mall representatives voiced vigorous opposition to the plan.
Mr. Rawlinson said he doesn't anticipate a similar scenario in this case because the Dadeland Mall is already very successful and the North Miami Beach mall, which began to suffer in the mid-'80s, is looking to make improvements.