The Underline, a plan to turn 10 dreary miles of dirt, grass and asphalt beneath the Metrorail into a bustling urban park, received a considerable boost Thursday when Miami Commissioners voted to fund about 40 percent of the $120 million project.
In a 4-0 vote, with Keon Hardemon off the dais, commissioners chose to designate up to $50 million in development fees to the 10-mile linear park, designed by one of the firms that envisioned Manhattan’s successful High Line. The money would be generated by projects built in the city limits within 1,000 feet of the rail line, which stretches from Brickell Station south to Dadeland South.
Meg Daly, founder of the Friends of the Underline, called the commitment a huge demonstration of public support. With the money promised through a memorandum of understanding with Miami-Dade County, which owns the land beneath the Metrorail and has committed $3 million of its own funds, Daly and other supporters will seek out the final $67 million to complete the project.
We just put the foundation of the house down.
Meg Daly, founder, Friends of the Underline
“We just put the foundation of the house down,” she said.
Daly said the plan is to break ground in the fall of 2017, starting in Brickell.
The city’s commitment, which was far from certain heading into Thursday’s commission meeting, is just the latest city effort to increase park space. The city has purchased a handful of lots recently in order to create neighborhood pocket parks, and a year ago opened the expansive Regatta Park on the Coconut Grove waterfront on the site of the former Coconut Grove Expo Center.
Commissioner Francis Suarez, who proposed the funding approved Thursday, said repurposing efforts like Regatta Park and The Underline represent the city’s best possibilities to create new, important public spaces.
“That is probably the best way for us to get a significant amount of park space for a reasonable amount of money,” he said. “I think it’s going to attract people not only in the city … but from all over the world.”
The agreement between the county and city runs for six years, or until the full $50 million is expended. The amount would be reduced if developers choose to give directly to The Underline.