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Brickell City Centre, which opened in November, is an urban animal of a concentrated intensity more evocative of Hong Kong or Tokyo than anything Miami has seen before: five towers connected by a multilevel, open-air shopping center plugged directly into a Metromover station and layered over underground parking tunneled beneath the streets.Pedestrians enter porous breezeways seamlessly from the surrounding streets, while above, shoppers cross bustling pedestrian fly-overs, protected overhead by a “climate ribbon” canopy that snakes across all three blocks like a long strip of origami. And that’s precisely the stated goal of the relatively new, largely untested and increasingly controversial zoning category that produced it, and that now could be paving the way to a redrawing of broad swaths of Miami.
The developer would spend millions on improvements to the park.
The goal: to create true urban neighborhoods and districts in underdeveloped areas of the city that, far from being self-contained islands, are painstakingly planned, interwoven and compatible with the city fabric around them.
Often in exchange for greater height and density, developers must spend millions on new public spaces, streets and amenities — sometimes paying cash into public kitties — while giving city planners and the city commission a significant say in the shape of the final product.
“The more we learn about these mammoth projects, the more concerned we are,” said Marleine Bastien, a Haitian-American activist who has been outspoken about gentrification of the neighborhood and the apparent lack of consideration for community input.
“What we resent is for us to be brought in at the 11th hour when everything is cooked and ready to eat, and we get the crumbs.” Garcia, Miami’s planning director, insists that community input is a central tenet of the Special Area Plan, which requires reams of paperwork, months of debate with city planners and multiple hearings in order to green-light a project.
It’s in Brickell, for crying out loud,” Aguirre said.