Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Suburbs in the Urban Area Part I

The Miami-Dade Metromover.Image via Wikipedia

As we draw closer to actually buildings going up at City Creek, there needs to be a basic questioned answered, are the new condos and residential buildings in the complex going to be urban or suburban?

I know what you are thinking; of course they will be urban because they will be in the downtown area. However that is not necessarily true.

When I was in Miami last November for Railvolution, there were a large number of new high rise condominium buildings going up in the downtown area. While this may seem like a good sign, taking a closer look will actually tell you a different story.

While the buildings may look nice from the distance, will they help bring life to the streets and provide easy access to transit service? The answer to these two questions is a big NO.

These high rises in Miami are little more than vertical suburban development.

First of all these buildings are usually several levels of parking followed by the apartments or condos. The sidewalks in front of one building I looked at were nice and wide the only problem being is the building had no real access from street level. While you could enter and exit the building from the first level, it was clear that it was not the front entrance.

While the sidewalk is nice and wide, there are no trees to provide shade from the hot and humid Miami weather. In other words, the residents of this tower are not expected to enjoy Miami’s street life or to take one of several bus routes that pass by the building every hour.

Meanwhile the Miami Metromover has an elevated station right behind the building yet there will be no access from the building to the rail station. If one of the residents was actually going to ride Metromover they would have to walk out that entrance that truly isn’t an entrance, walk around the building then up the stairs to the Metromover.

Despite the fact that there is a major entertainment complex and park right across the street, the building closes off that area to its residents. It is assumed that everyone who lives in this building is totally tied to their automobile and never wants to be away from it.

Buildings need to be part of the community, not segregated from it.

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