"Wouldn't it be nice to stroll through a necklace of pocket parks from Miami's new Downtown Museum Park all the way up to Overtown's Dorsey Park?" asks the Miami Herald this morning, to a presumed chorus of "no!"s from Miamians who'd never purposefully go near Overtown.
But the pocket of parks is part of a lovely "aspirational" master plan for the Downtown area immediately west of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, a plan that reportedly involves reconfiguring street traffic, developing more than 40 acres of property, and extending the public People Mover in a complete loop around the neighborhood.
The "aspirational" label, as coined by developer Armando Codina, is because neither the Arsht Center nor he and the other board members at the newly-formed Town Square Neighborhood Development Corporation have the money or property to actually implement architect Cesar Pelli's sketch of a living community. Instead, it's a study of what could be accomplished if area business owners and developers like the idea and get on board.
"We cannot afford not to do something," Codina told the Herald. "It's very hard to advocate if you don't have a plan. This is just the beginning of the dialogue. We hope the neighborhood is going to be developed respectfully."
(Miami New Times, of course, also hopes for a Ferris wheel and a pot farm. In weak moments, half of Miami would settle for parking.)
While the TSNDC bills itself as an "independent entity", it does have a singular client: the group, which includes former Mayor Manny Diaz as vice-chair, intends to oversee development of the area "in a manner that enhances the [Arsht] Center's pioneering role in building Miami's cultural and entertainment center." Funding to hire Pelli was provided by a $300,000 grant the federal initiative ArtPlace, which aims to revitalize cities with economic development centered around the arts.
"This aspirational master plan is the first step of a dream that will become a living document and it is the Town Square Neighborhood Development's vision for a livable community, with a mix of education, cultural, housing, entertainment, recreation, civic and retail centers with sufficient public transportation and parking," Codina said in a statement. "In designing the plan, we were respectful of Miami 21 and worked closely with elected officials. We hope that Miami's elected officials along with the area's neighbors and property owners are inspired by our plan."
What wasn't addressed in pretty pictures is how the Town Square plan could blend with that other master plan for the area: that of Genting Malaysia's planned mega-casino just a couple blocks in the other direction. Codina told the South Florida Business Journal that the group was focused on what would make the neighborhood sustainable and walkable.
Dare to dream, of course -- and to perhaps get Genting to foot some of the bill, just to play the game.
See images of the master plan, courtesy of the Town Square Neighborhood Development Corporation: