Image: The Marquis (left) and ten Museum Park (right)
This installment was supposed to be about Brickell Village, but I shuffled the order a bit and decided to start my retail potential focus at the center of the Core.
Parkwest has many problems. Let’s address them in no particular order:
Image: Greyhound Station with the Marquis tower looming in the background
Woe 1: The Greyhound Station
This is a repository for low income travelers from all over the country. Many of the homeless roaming the streets are from elsewhere. Greyhound is their common source of entry. The bus station is not compatible with the densification pattern of the Core. It occupies too much space and is an entry point for often unstable elements. As it is, there are no imminent plans to relocate the station.
Woe 2: Camillus House
Being Downtown’s homeless shelter, Camillus House is a natural center of gravity for homelessness. This means that the closer you are to it, the likelier you are to run into panhandling and vagrancy. There are, however, plans to relocate Camillus House west to the Civic Center area. This would reduce the high concentration of displaced persons on the streets. It’s not clear when that move will take place.
Woe 3: The I-395
Having a loud elevated highway run across the flank of your neighborhood is not good. Other than the ceaseless swoosh sound of the speeding traffic, the overpasses can serve to conceal drug deals and illicit activity, promulgate vagrancy, and hamper aesthetic appeal. Fortunately, the FDOT has plans to repositioning it north, ditch it, replace the existing overpass space with park land, and provide level bridge crossings to the newly visible (because the street level view north is currently blocked) M&E District. The timetable for the work has not been set. It should be remembered that the Opus tower was denied by the commission in order to preserve the FDOT’s plans. As encouraging as the plans are, don’t expect the work to start anytime soon.
Image: 1st Avenue View of East Overtown from Parkwest
Woe 4: Overtown
Overtown for years was taboo for people in the suburbs. It was the place you didn’t drive through. Sad, considering the neighborhood was, at one point, a thriving cultural hub for Miami’s Black community. The construction of the I-95 and displacement of about half of Overtown’s residents put an immediate end to that. Today, most of Overtown lies beyond the I-95. The smaller remnant to the east of I-95 meets Parkwest at N.W. 1st Avenue. As one would expect from a ravaged community, Overtown is unstable. Economically, it is in a state of decay. It’s low income and historically plagued with a high crime rate.
Woe 5: Infrastructure
Parkwest lacks cross walks and pedestrian lights. Its sidewalks are in a state of disrepair. With the exception of vacant lots, there are no places to park. The streets are uneven, dirty, and riddled with potholes. There is nothing in the way of landscaping and little in the way of greenery.
Woe 6: Security
The combination of having a high concentration of low income housing units and a homeless shelter creates a security problem. Drug distribution and use is more common. At night, there is little sense of security unless you are near a club and in a group.
Image: Parkwest; empty streets and neglected buildings
Woe 7: Stagnant Retail sector
Parkwest lacks shops of any kind. In so far as retail activity is concerned, it is a void. This means that incoming residents don’t have many services or goods to procure in their immediate surroundings. That’s a fancy way of saying nothing to eat or buy here. Pretty much, there is no retail foundation. Things would have to start from scratch.
There are some serious progress impediments in Parkwest. Through a retailer standpoint, Parkwest is not desirable at this point. However, retailers also have to think about long term potential. By virtue of setting up shop, a retailer becomes vested in the community. Understanding what track the community is heading in, whether positive or negative, is vital in influencing retail activity. On the surface, Parkwest’s retail potential is questionable, but what happens when one digs deeper? What’s happening under the surface? Does the news get better or is urban vitality going to have to wait? This will be considered as we go from Parkwest’s woes to its pros.
(To be Continued…)