Downtown Miami master plan getting first upgrade in years
By Yeleny Suarez
Miami's Downtown Development Authority is updating the city's downtown master plan for the first time since 1986 and plans to wrap up sweeping changes this year.
The final document is to be linked to the city's zoning code, said Dana Nottingham, executive director of the downtown authority. That would give the master plan teeth in shaping changes to downtown, which is rapidly being restructured by high-rise developers in a boom unlike any in the city's core since the 1920s.
"The first major step in accomplishing this objective will be updating the Central Business District Master Plan," Mr. Nottingham said.
Each of the plan's four phases is to be handed to a separate consultant. Three firms are competing for each phase, with choices to be made this month. Their fees are being negotiated.
Mr. Nottingham would not discuss the total cost of the planning process.
The aim is to create an economic development master plan that would focus on economic and competitive strategy, land use and transportation master planning and a revitalization strategy, he said.
After consultants hold a kickoff workshop late this month or in early February, he said, downtown interests will review each phase of the planning.
The first phase, research and analysis, will come February through April, followed by program analysis, which will be reviewed in June and July. Phase three, program development, will face reviews in October and November. A final report and presentations are due in December.
In addition to reviews, public workshops will be conducted at the end of phases two and four.
Mr. Nottingham said a consultant and advisory committee will be organized to focus on economic development and market research, land use, transportation and environment, housing and community development.
Infrastructure, public facilities and services, public safety and emergency services, human services and education, art, culture and entertainment, marketing and community outreach are other key areas.
Some consultants in transportation, urban design and economic and market research will work independently and in collaboration to establish objectives, cross-utilize information and perform tasks required to update the master plan, Mr. Nottingham said.
According to Mr. Nottingham, those involved in the process will seek the participation of city and county governments and key agencies.
Downtown development authorities were established nationwide in the 1960s, when the federal government urged state governments to enact legislation that would help reverse the deterioration of inner cities.
In 1966, Florida legislation and a Miami city ordinance formed the Downtown Development Authority. Its four districts are:
Brickell/Brickell Village: South 15th Road north to the Miami River and Southwest First Avenue east to Biscayne Bay, including Brickell Key.
Downtown/Uptown: Miami River north to North Sixth Street and Interstate 95 east to Biscayne Bay.
Park West: North Sixth Street to Interstate 395 and Northwest First Avenue east to Biscayne Bay.
Media & Entertainment: I-395 north to Northeast 17th Street and Northwest First Avenue to Biscayne Bay north along the Biscayne Boulevard corridor to Northeast 24th Street from Northeast Second Avenue to approximately 500 feet east of Biscayne Boulevard.
"DDA's top priority next year is to complete the first milestone step in updating the Downtown Miami Master Plan," Mr. Nottingham said. "DDA's initial focus will address the CBD, Brickell, special waterfront districts and Biscayne Boulevard. Subsequent planning will incorporate work currently underway by the (Community Redevelopment Agency), city and county in the Park West and Omni Districts."