Our Streets

A View from Flagler Street

Terrell Fritz

Good news on Flagler Street? At last, Yes! Surprisingly, it’s the resurrection of the failed Flagler Street Beautification Project.

Rendition of the proposed Flagler Street. Courtesy of Terrell Fritz.

Last fall, when the future of the latest streetscape scheme on Flagler seemed most dim, Moishe Mana, a major commercial property owner in Downtown Miami’s historic Flagler District, suggested a “time out” to explore whether or not the lull in momentum was actually an opportunity to create something important.

Six months later, an evolution of the previous plan was proposed to create a “festival street” — a colorful, curb-less, and textured public street with wide sidewalks for a café district that allows limited automotive traffic when a traditional commercial environment is desirable. Then when it’s time to celebrate, individual blocks or the whole of Flagler Street can be closed to traffic and opened to pedestrians. It’s an innovative response to the eternal “pedestrians or cars?” urban design dilemma and the first worthy proposal for Flagler Street in many, many years. Over the summer, a miracle happened.

In a rare confluence of political will, first Miami-Dade County, then the City of Miami, the Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA), and finally Flagler Street stakeholders agreed to move the project forward. A new Flagler Business Improvement District (Flagler District BID) was formed to champion the project and advocate for other improvements, such as last year’s campaign for new zoning regulations to encourage nightlife in the Flagler District.

Concrete steps

The initiative is starting to work. Mama Tried opened on NE 1st St., and on Flagler Sushi Americana and Lost Boy, the latter at once becoming the place to see and be seen in historic Downtown Miami. More new businesses will be opening before the end of the year.

It’s not all good news

There is little progress on the long overdue façade renovation project for the Olympia Theater — but more on that later.

Three steps forward, one step back, but the momentum is building.

Terrell Fritz is a local resident, historian and Executive Director of the Flagler District BID. You can follow activities in historic Downtown Miami on Facebook at Downtown Miami Partnership.

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