Miami-Dade should help revamp historic Flagler

06/29/2014 7:00 PM

06/27/2014 9:35 PM

Downtown’s Flagler Street is the birthplace of Miami and is our main street.

Throughout Miami’s history, it was where people went for shopping, dining, and entertainment. Anchor stores such as Burdines, McCrory’s, and Woolworths brought visitors and locals to the area. La Epoca relocated to Downtown Miami after the 1959 Cuban Revolution because this was the center of commerce for our new city.

Downtown Miami, like most downtowns, experienced a decline starting in the 1960’s toward the suburbs, and much of its magic was lost. Today, there is a reverse trend and downtowns throughout the nation are flourishing. Our downtown has experienced more than 80% residential growth and an onslaught of new restaurants and cultural institutions throughout the area. But Flagler Street remains dated and is in need of major improvements to revive its prominence as Miami’s main street.

After three years of careful planning, the Miami Downtown Development Authority’s Flagler Street Task Force — composed of property owners, businesses, and residents — has developed a plan for the redevelopment of the street. Among the elements of the plan are widening and leveling sidewalks, shade trees, and other pedestrian amenities that will dramatically improve the street’s walkability. It will also contain a clever solution for closing sections of the street for desired festivals and events.

Flagler property owners have agreed to contribute $1 million through a special assessment already approved by the Miami commission. The city has also set aside its own funds for the project and on July 1, the Miami-Dade Commission will vote on allocating the remaining funds needed.

An improved Flagler Street will increase business, generate hundreds of new jobs, and enhance the pedestrian experience. It will also serve as a catalyst for further economic development in the surrounding area, just as the redevelopment of Ocean Drive and Lincoln Road led to South Beach’s revival.

We urge county commissioners to approve the allocation of funds so we can move forward with the revival of one of Miami’s most revered public spaces: Flagler Street.

Neisen Kasdin and Brian Alonso, co-chairs, Miami Downtown Development Authority’s Flagler Street Task Force

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