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How Miami Wants To Revitalize Downtown

The Miami Herald

Imagine sipping an iced cappuccino on Flagler Street beneath a lush shade tree, next to the very road that really kicked off Miami. Or meandering through a long, lazy park inserted in the middle of Biscayne Boulevard, just north of the InterContinental Miami Hotel and Resort.

Not possible, you say?

Quite possible, says Javier Betancourt, the Deputy Directory of the Miami Downtown Development Authority.

“If we want a global Miami, then these are the type of changes that need to be made to create a world-class city,” says Betancourt.

The vision is to redesign Flagler -- widen and flatten the sidewalks and add shade trees, all conducive to outdoor dining. Sort of a Restaurant Row, Betancourt says.

Also to bring in the type of valet parking where you could walk a few blocks, and then, when you’re ready for your car, it comes to you. As for Biscayne Boulevard, the car is not the focal point – it’s the park.

“We would put the Boulevard on a ‘road diet,' ” laughs Betancourt.

By that he means reducing the numbers of lanes to four, to make it safer for people to cross the street, and add parallel parking on either side. The parking lots that, for right now pass as medians, would be converted to what Betancourt calls a “linear park.”

As with any changes, the final say over a project goes to the Miami City Commission. But Betancourt says the Commission and the DDA have been working together to make it a reality.

Now, how about that nice iced cappuccino on Flagler Street?

Hear the full interview with Betancourt here:

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