July 25, 2005

Revamping Miami’s ‘Design District’

What's now an "under-utilized area of designer showrooms and art galleries" will be transformed into "a bustling neighborhood of condos, rentals and new mixed-use buildings" under a plan that includes adding more restaurants, shops and appealing streetscapes in order to make the neighborhood a more desirable place to live and work, according to the Miami Herald.

"We are taking a vibrant neighborhood and making it more so. We're going to create live/work spaces for creative people and subsidize where young people need help,'' Craig Robins, head of Dacra Properties, told the Herald. Robins' plans include not only new "live/work" buidlings, but a new building to house his own art collection that will be open to the public.

The city will be planting trees along a main street, as well as improving sidewalks and lighting. Some lengthy blocks - too long to be pedestrian-friendly - will be carved into more manageable chunks.

Planners envision a walkable neighborhood that can meet people's basic shopping needs as well as entertainment. Said local boutique owner Susane Ronai:

I had to send a client needing batteries for her camera over to [Biscayne] Boulevard and several blocks down to find batteries. Two years from now, no one will have to go outside the district for a battery. We need more boutiques, cafés, restaurants, a newsstand. We need a little movie house, and I would love to see a bookstore here.

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