Miami, UM announce initiative to revitalize Civic Center area
By Susan Stabley
Miami Mayor Manny Diaz and University of Miami President Donna Shalala have teamed to attract partners to revitalize the Civic Center area. Their plan includes something as simple as laundry service as a way to create local jobs.
Dubbed the Miami Partnership, the plan is to pool resources and boost economic leverage in an area of Miami - west of downtown and north of State Road 836 - blessed with workers and visitors but marred with concerns of crime and confusing corridors.
The idea works like this:
Consider laundry and how much of it is dirtied during daily use at any one of the many facilities at the University of Miami School of Medicine. All the school's laundry is sent out of state to be cleaned, said Ronald Bogue, assistant vice president for facilities and services at the school.
But if UM teamed with Jackson Memorial Hospital and put out bids for a vendor, Mr. Bogue said, they could offer a big contract to a private business with stipulations that the work be done in the Civic Center and are citizens would be hired. It would keep money circulating locally and give the school and the hospital a way to hold costs, he said.
The same philosophy of efficiency could be applied to a range of services such as leasing photocopiers, supplying paper and ink and so on, he said.
Mayor Diaz and Ms. Shalala are sending out letters to more than 35 investors in the area urging them to participate in the partnership. They include neighborhood groups to the area's public schools and Miami-Dade County, which Mayor Diaz said he will ask to provide signage to help commuters navigate the area.
"Those are the kinds of little things that are big things," Mayor Diaz said.
The first meeting of the partnership will be 9-11 a.m. April 13 in the seventh-floor auditorium of the Lois Pope Life Center at the University of Miami School of Medicine, 1095 NW 14th Terrace.
The two announced the partnership Tuesday at the Life Center with John Clarkson, senior vice president for medical affairs and dean of UM's School of Medicine. The plan includes implementing a design created in 2002 by international planning firm EDAW that focused on improving the area as part of an annual summer educational program.
The City of Miami will contract any needed studies to make the plan a reality. Ms. Shalala said Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, dean of the School of Architecture, and her students will participate, as will deans from UM's schools of nursing, business, law and education.
In addition to UM and Jackson, the area is home to the Veteran Administration Medical Center, Cedars Medical Center, the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building, the State's Attorney's Office, the Miami Dade College Medical Campus and the Lindsey Hopkins Technical Education Center.
The area boasts three mass-transit stations and eight bus routes and can be accessed from Interstate 95 and state roads 836 and 122.
Creation of the Miami is the first step of a master plan put together by 14 planning, architecture and landscape design students two years ago.
The team of students, participants in the 23rd Annual EDAW Summer Student Program, spent two weeks in 2002 developing a master plan for the area west of downtown Miami and north of State Road 836 that is home to many local medical, legal and educational institutions including the University of Miami School of Medicine, Jackson Memorial Hospital, Veteran Administration Medical Center, Cedars Medical Center, Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building, the State's Attorney's Office, Miami-Dade College Medical Campus and the Lindsey Hopkins Technical Education Center.
The area is roughly bounded by Northwest 20th Street, the Miami River, Northwest 7th Avenue and Northwest 12th Avenue. According to the study, about one of every 28 jobs in the state is located in the Civic Center area.
Envisioned in the plan are new additions to the area including:
Restoring five natural areas or gardens along Wagner Creek, a waterway that was noted as a challenge to the area because of pollution.
Creating an entertainment and living complex along the Miami River along 11th Street.
Revitalizing the corridors of Northwest 11th, 14th and 20th streets and Northwest Seventh, 10th and 12th for pedestrian use.
Improving circulation around the medical center by opening up roadways and reconnecting streets.
Bringing more retail and restoring historic housing in the Highland Park neighborhood.
Zoning changes were among the recommendations of a second phase of the plan, especially around the Civic Center and Santa Clara transit stations and along Northwest 20th Street and Seventh Avenue. A conservation district was also recommended for Highland Park. The final phase suggests a self-taxing district.