New options for Bicentennial Park offer Miami three choices
By Paola Iuspa
Three designs for redevelopment of Bicentennial Park offer a choice among an area of almost completely open space, one encircled by low-level buildings or a site filled with new museums.
Each aims the park toward serving a specific purpose. The plans were assembled by the Waterfront Renewal Committee, chaired by Miami Commissioner Johnny Winton, from many ideas gathered three months ago during a public workshop. Dover, Kohl & Partners, planners hired by the city, synthesized the designs into three distinct proposals.
Victor Dover, a partner with the firm, emphasized that the plans are alternatives, not a final master plan.
"This gives us a framework for discussion," he said.
About 100 persons welcomed the designs - at least in this initial phase - with a standing ovation when the plans were unveiled last week at a city commission meeting.
Mr. Winton said the waterfront committee would come back with specifics steps "by late summer or early fall." For now, he said, he wanted to give residents time to study the alternatives and offer feedback.
"The step now is to give the public time to process this information," he said.
The open-space design calls for 25.9 acres of green areas through the park, said Don Zuchelli, with ZHA, a financial consulting firm and part of the planning team.
Design elements include a palm court or plaza; low-scale community hall; a central, oval-shaped open space; a carousel; boat slips; baywalk esplanade with a restaurant, and a tower for public overlook. The central green area could be used for concerts and other events, Mr. Zuchelli said.
He said grants and public financing would be used to renovate the park with the Bayfront Park Management Trust, or a similar entity, being the administrator. Funds to maintain the park would have to come from programmed events, commercial vendor income, and marine activities, including docking for yachts and visiting historical ships, according to the committee's report.
It would cost $21 million to $26 million to build an open-space park, Mr. Zuchelli said. The operating cost would be about $1.5 million. Events and activities are would generate almost $1.2 million in revenue, he said, leaving a $300,000 annual shortfall.
The second design calls for redesigning the park with a reduced green area to accommodate private buildings.
Housing and businesses would rise at the edges of the park, according to the plans. Buildings, to take up 7 acres, would have to be four to seven stories high to avoid blocking views from areas west of a redesigned Biscayne Boulevard.
This design would be built with funds generated by privatizing portion of the park, Mr. Zuchelli said. Funds to maintain the park would come from programmed events and other activities.
Construction cost would be $20 million to $24 million, with an operating budget of $800,000, he said. Park activities could generate about $560,000, with a shortfall of $240,000, according to the committee report.
Referred to as the "cultural" park, the third design has a central, oval-shaped green area with museums and outdoor exhibits along its edges.
Museum buildings, covering about 7 acres, would sit next to the marina slip in the south and next to I-395 in the north, keeping a green corridor in between. The lanes to access the museums would be designed as narrow scenic drives.
Representatives from the Children's Holocaust Museum, the Miami Museum of Science and the Miami Art Museum, among others, attended the February workshop on the park's future and have expressed interest in making the park their home.
Funds for this design would come from revenues from the museums and public money, Mr. Zuchelli said.
The outdoor museum grounds would be maintained by cultural trusts while the rest would come from funds generated by park activities.
It would cost an estimated $20 million to $23 million to build the cultural park, with an annual operating budget of $1.1 million. Park revenues would be about $800,000, with a shortfall of $250,000, according to the waterfront committee and planners.
Mr. Zuchelli said the city could study incorporating Bicentennial Park with the Miami Community Redevelopment Agency, which can issue bonds. He said at least four sources of federal money could be available for the project.
Commissioners agreed to create monthly activities for children in the park.
"If you give individuals a reason to go, people will go," Commissioner Wifredo Gort said.
In addition to gathering opinions on the plans, the city will ask its planning department to prepare a proposal for the empty lots west of Biscayne Boulevard and facing the park to make sure future developments are in tune with the park's character.
"Develop a special planning plan in consultation with the Community Redevelopment Agency and the Downtown Development Authority for the areas between I-395 to Northeast Ninth Street and from Ninth Street to Sixth Street," Commissioner Arthur Teele Jr. told members of the planning department.