The final draft of the much-anticipated vision for revamping the look and feel of Lincoln Road will debut at a public meeting Tuesday evening.
Miami Beach officials commissioned New York landscape architects James Corner Field Operations to create a plan for updating the ambiance of the outdoor mall in South Beach, which was originally designed by famous mid-century architect Morris Lapidus. He’s known for designing the Fontainebleau and Eden Roc hotels.
After seeing initial concepts for the mall itself in June, the public will for the first time see what Field Operations has proposed to transform adjacent streets like Lincoln Lanes north and south.
A presentation the architects provided to the Miami Herald shows bike lanes, more trees and new storefronts along the lanes, which lie north and south of the Lincoln Road mall. The goal is to create a new pedestrian-friendly area along roadways currently filled with delivery trucks and trash bins.
Isabel Castilla, Field Operations’ project manager for the Lincoln Road plan, noted that some businesses are already opening up to the lanes, like the Apple Store, and a new streetscape will encourage other companies to do the same.
“Those lanes are not something you want to walk along,” Castilla said.
The vision represents a stark contrast from what these side streets look like today. For example, on Lincoln Lane North between Drexel and Washington avenues, the plan eliminates a parking lane for service vehicles, expands the sidewalk and features an 8-foot bike lane running along new storefronts with outdoor café seating. The plan also encourages development of the surface parking lot on Meridian Avenue north of the mall.
Implementing these concepts will be challenging because it will require a change in delivery times and restructuring of trash pickup to reduce the number of trash bins.
“I think we have to look at it and study it to make sure it will work,” said Mayor Philip Levine.
On Drexel Avenue, where vehicle traffic would be closed off, a row of trees would be planted with café tables in between them leading up to SoundScape Park. On Meridian Avenue north of the mall, street parking would give way to a wider sidewalk, bike lanes, more trees and more café tables.
The plan also addresses the western portion of Lincoln Road that stretches to Biscayne Bay. At the bay, new gray-and-white paving would reference the mall’s palette, and a new dock would be constructed for a potential water taxi. Traffic on the 200 and 300 blocks would be reconfigured to give taxis and buses their own lane while commuters take lanes on the outside. Here, the sidewalks would be narrowed by seven feet.
It’s important to balance the public space with the commercial space
Lincoln Road Master Plan
On the 500 block, Field Operations proposes removing fountains and trees that currently obscure a triangular structure once used as a fashion display, so that the folly becomes visible from Washington Avenue. A narrow, low-lying water feature would serve as a reflecting pool when water is running. When the water is turned off, the platform could work as a runway.
Tweaks from the June proposal include a new shade structure at the Washington Avenue entrance with white painted steel louvers overhead, creating more straight lines than the previously proposed folly. A previously proposed water feature on the ground has been removed.
“It’s a simple structure that’s more about the function of it and the effect of it,” Castilla said. “With the sun shade created by the louvers, they reinforce the black and white piano keys underneath.”
The plan to turn the Euclid oval into a fountain has changed to make half the oval either a planter or fountain and the other half an open area with seating, where children can play. A few rows of amphitheater-style seating would face the “bandshell” structure to the east.
“We designed to be a more flexible space for families and culture,” she said.
$20 million of Miami Beach Redevelopment Agency funds are earmarked for improvements to Lincoln Road
The plan still calls for installing colored concrete to make the piano-key floor a permanent feature that doesn’t require annual paint jobs. The outer sidewalks would be repaved with two different shades of gray concrete with exposed seashell aggregate.
Sidewalk café tables would be consolidated toward the center of the mall to reveal more storefronts, and Castilla said they’ve adjusted the design to maintain the existing number of tables and a few areas where more can be added later.
The overall goal, she said, is to balance the desires of residents, who want to be able to hang out on Lincoln Road, and the needs of businesses that want to flourish.
Corner’s firm is best known for designing the High Line, a popular linear park developed on an unused elevated railroad in Lower Manhattan. Corner and Castilla will present the plan to the public at 6 p.m. Tuesday inside the commission chambers on the third floor of City Hall, 1700 Convention Center Drive.
Public comments and input from the City Commission and Historic Preservation Board can still lead to adjustments to the plan. Construction would not begin until the plans clear the usual hurdles at City Hall.