North Miami makes plans for downtown

08/14/2014 4:48 PM

08/14/2014 4:49 PM

North Miami plans to redevelop its downtown area with a new multistory parking garage, retail stores and office spaces. A newly formed downtown advisory committee met last week to discuss the plan for the area’s future and to hear details from city staff.

Arthur Sorey, the city’s budget manager, discussed how the city CRA would factor into the downtown development and presented a plan called the three-point catalyst approach. He said the plan was based on the city’s downtown development major corridor master plan and the findings from three downtown redevelopment plan meetings held earlier this year throughout the city.

The approach would work in three phases. Sorey said the cost for the garage phase of the project would be about $7 million and would likely be paid for partially by the CRA and through a public-private partnership. City Manager Aleem Ghany said the idea is to keep business and residents in the downtown area.

“The idea is to attract middle-class university students, middle-class families, people who will work and live in that area,” Ghany said.

Sorey said the other two phases include creating mixed-use zoning for the retail spaces on Northeast 125th Street between Northeast Eighth and Ninth avenues. and plans for an additional parking lot and an amphitheater in the space between the Museum of Contemporary Art and the city’s police department headquarters. Sorey said that the plan is still being developed and is still in its earliest form.

“Nothing’s off the table, we’re not even in the design stage yet,” Sorey said at the meeting.

The committee also heard from Babacar M’Bow, director of MOCA, who spoke about his plans for the museum and programming following the departure of the board of trustees earlier this month to a new location in Miami’s Design District. M’Bow discussed a plan called MOCA 2020, a plan to develop new exhibits and educational programming by the year 2020, and his hope to develop warehouses near the downtown area so local artists have creative spaces in the city.

M’Bow said the city has to find new ways to make the museum profitable and pointed out Jazz at MOCA as an example of a popular event that isn’t necessarily connected to the business community.

“We have to keep cultural money in the city and use that to attract outside support,” M’Bow said.

Some of the other developments the committee plans to discuss are plans for student housing for the surrounding university students at Florida International University, Johnson & Wales University and Barry University. The city will also have to potentially decide on a Florida East Coast Railway depot on 125th Street.

The potential development is also a factor in the plan to extend the life of the CRA. The agreement between the city and Miami-Dade County is set to end in 2016. The city and CRA hope to extend the agreement to 2026 or even further.

“We’re really just at the concept stage of how do we sell this to the county so we can extend the life of the CRA,” Tanya Wilson-Sejour, the city’s planning manager, said.

The advisory committee plans to meet the second Friday of every month. The CRA Board will hold a special meeting Tuesday at North Miami City Hall, 776 NE 125th Street.

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