Thomas said the city’s piecemeal approach is reasonable given the fiscal constraints it faces. In any case, she added, she is not a fan of some aspects of the Cooper Robertson park plan, singling out the palms-in-the-pond element.
“This approach creates a nice canvas, with quite a good frame with the waterfront and promenade,’’ Thomas said, adding: “It’s such a lovely spot. I’m sure long-term there will be a fabulous plan. Whether it’s the Cooper Robertson plan or some other plan is open for discussion.’’
But she said an artfully designed park along the lines of what the city originally promised is essential to the success of the broader Museum Park project, whose goal was to attract thousands of people to a stunning but sorely underused corner of downtown Miami.
A park with features such as interactive installations would likely attract numerous visitors independently of the museums, she said, just as art-filled Millennium Park, which was built over an old rail yard next to the Chicago Institute of Art and the home of the Chicago Symphony, sharply boosted tourism to that city’s downtown Loop.
Making that happen at Museum Park, however, may now require donations or corporate support, possibly through the formation of a park conservancy like that established for Central Park in New York, Thomas said.
Tax revenues are also sure to rise at the Omni CRA in coming years, especially if Malaysian casino giant Genting builds a planned resort on the site of The Miami Herald’s building, which it bought from the newspaper company.
“If you have a fabulous park, you get even more people down there,’’ Thomas said. “It would be great for the city and it would be a sensible thing to do, but they would need to find the cash.’’