Miami voted. Results were tallied. And Midtown took the “2012 Curbed Cup” contest for Miami’s Best Neighborhood. A former rail yard, now comprised of commercial and condo units, Midtown received more votes than popular destinations like Lincoln Road, Coconut Grove, and Sunset Harbour.
What might make Midtown the best Miami neighborhood? The district offers a variety of stores to lure a wide spectrum of visitors - catering to both small, independent businesses and large-scale retailers, and “chain restaurants.” The plan also has an active green space - shared by visitors and residents alike. Lastly, this modern design and new construction offers a clean and secure environment.
As popular as Midtown became in the year 2012, there are many ways that this new area could improve:
- Neighborhood Middle. Miami is full of condos and single-family houses - and yet provides nothing for the middle. This lack of medium-density housing is both detrimental to the city’s urbanism and a missed opportunity by developers. What about the rest? Providing a wider span of sustainable housing - townhouses, live/works, courtyard houses - expands the real-estate market to more individuals (this author included).
- Stranded Urbanism. In the context of Miami, Midtown is an urban island (quite fitting for the tropical city, I suppose). With harsh dissecting highways to the west and directly north and existing railroad track to the east, this contemporary development lacks accessibility. A few bus lines, yes, but where is the MetroRail connection? Trolley? The best improvement would be the direct inclusion of adjacent neighborhoods.
- Where’s the Authenticity? It’s challenging to make something new seem genuine, but perhaps a missed opportunity was to preserve a visual connection to the former Florida East Coast rail yard - adaptive reuse building, railroad cars, a simple commemorative plaque. Maybe years of urban layers will help - only time will tell.
Yes, Midtown is a great addition to Miami and especially to the neighboring areas. However, this district has room to grow and improve. In what ways do you think this and other new districts could improve your city’s quality of life?
Credits: Images by Jennifer Garcia. Data linked to sources.