A vacant lot that was once the home of the former Miami Arena will reopen as a temporary park on Jan. 20, adding a green space to park-starved downtown Miami in an effort to beautify the area and improve its reputation.
The five-acre Grand Central Park, located at 700 N. Miami Ave., will host its first public event with a ribbon cutting ceremony starting at 5:30 p.m. that will include a live performance by local band Elastic Bond and a food truck round up.
Admission for the opening event is free.
"This a concrete example of what happens in Miami when local government works together the community,” said Brad Knoefler, president of Omni Parkwest Redevelopment Association Inc., the nonprofit behind the project.
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The park is comprised of a multi-use gravel area made up of debris from the old Miami Arena; this part will be used for parking, concerts and other events. The rest of Grand Central is covered with grass and 250 trees, including maples, magnolias and pines. A 100-gallon retention pond on the west end will serve to recycle rainwater for the plants.
Before its completion, the gravel area was already being used as a parking lot for Knoefler's Grand Central club across the street.
"Grand Central Park is the largest success of our 'Block By Block' method to revitalize our inner city."
Knoefler said that due to low budget funds the park won’t have benches or any kind of exercise equipment. A 1-mile bike trail is in the works.
According to a press release, the new park will be open every day from 8 a.m. until dusk for those with a free membership that can be obtained online.
Last October, OPRA received a $200,000 grant from the Miami Community Redevelopment Agency to cover construction and part of rent costs of the land, which is owned by Palm Beach County businessman Glenn Straub.
Straub agreed to lease the land for three years to OPRA at $200,000 per year.
The park will be used for concerts and other events in order to fund the its day-to-day operations and rent. Upcoming ticket-only events include the Budweiser One Love Nutrifest featuring reggae artists on Feb. 18.
Knoefler believes the park will be a catalyst for the surrounding Overtown area.
“Something like this brings businesses, then you have cafes and people hanging out here, not afraid to leave their cars parked here,” Knoefler said. “The more activities, the more opportunities.”
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