Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Miami's "New City"

According to the Miami Herald, Miami is going to re-vamp its antiquated zoning code with a neighborhood- and pedestrian-friendly set of building rules in an effort to map the future.

''We are really designing a new city,'' said Mayor Manny Diaz, who is heading the effort, dubbed Miami 21, and has made it a top priority of his administration. ``It's long overdue. As far as I can tell, no one has looked at this since, well, ever.''
The effort will also include plans to improve transportation, parks and public spaces, and to spur economic development in the city until well into the new century.

Miami would be the first major U.S. city to adopt such a code.

The rewrite would take place even as a high-rise condo-construction boom of unprecedented scope is already recasting downtown Miami and surrounding areas -- gobbling up vacant land, flattening some of the city's oldest buildings and, in some cases, invading long-established neighborhoods where the quirks of the zoning code permit out-scaled development.

In the meantime, city planning statistics show, 51 large-scale projects have been approved across Miami, encompassing 17,776 residential units and more than three million square feet of floor space. Applications for new buildings continue to flow in.
The city's largest residents' group nonetheless intends to participate intensively in the public sessions that will help shape the plan.
''I'm basically optimistic,'' said Joe Wilkins, secretary of Miami Neighborhoods United, a 1-year-old coalition of 20 city homeowners' associations. ``We've been victimized by the antiquated zoning code. The feeling is that the city has had a bias toward development at the expense of the neighborhoods.
``The city always says they want to preserve neighborhoods. This is a chance for them to put their money where their mouth is.''


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