The Miami Bay/River Promenade: A Dream or Reality?

There has been much speculation concerning the construction of a Bay/ River walkway from the Miami River north to Margaret Pace Park. It was said that funding would come from the half-penny sales tax as well as a government bond. However, little has been published that would indicate that the project has gone past a feasibility study. Miami’s Downtown Transportation Master Plan makes reference to the walkway and extends it to Margaret Pace Park. Developers in the North Bayshore Drive area have told prospective buyers that the walkway would reach the park, but there is no confirmation that the walkway will be built—even less reach Pace Park, which would be the ideal scenario. This is important because the city may cut back funding and possibly reduce the scale of the walkway—in consideration of the looming property tax crisis.

Such a walkway would make the bay front area of the city much friendlier to tourists, residents, and visitors. It would significantly boost the value of the surrounding land and residences. It would benefit all the establishments on it or near it by providing easier access to and from them and stimulate business growth. It would provide an excellent pedestrian link from the Miami River neighborhoods to the bay front neighborhoods, thus creating a more connected urban community. The benefits are several and clear. So, then, what is the status of this project? Is there funding? Where is the money finally coming from? Is the project done being researched? There are many more questions surrounding this exciting proposal.

Pedro Martin’s Terra Group has plans to build a public walkway as part of their 63 story planned tower near the Venetian causeway. Currently, along the Grand and Marriot, there is something of a walkway. Pace Park has a sidewalk along the bay, but it is not a bay walkway. Bicentennial is well positioned to accommodate one—pending the outcome of the Museum Park plans. Bayside, for all intensive purposes, is one. Bayfront Park, already has a semblance of a walkway, although it would have to be modified. South of Bayfront Park stands the Intercontinental Hotel and One Miami projects, which will serve as the junction point between the Miami River and the Bay front area. There are, however, many physical obstacles in the way: the inlet next to the AAA, the I-395, and all the individual buildings and venues (many of which do not have any semblance a walkway). Additionally, there are so many infrastructure lapses and proposed initiatives that many in the city don’t currently care to entertain the idea of a walkway. All of the Miami River projects have been required to incorporate public river walk space into their schemes, thus making it easier to consolidate all the river walkways. However, it is not clear how or who will manage the walkway should it exist.

The bay/river walkway will serve as a sort “cherry on top” of Miami’s urban sundae if you will. It is not necessary but boy would it be a perfect addition. I do, however, not want to understate the potential significant impact such a project would have on the surrounding area. It will serve as a repository for tourists and visitors in downtown. The views of the buildings from the promenade will be some of the best in the city. It will certainly add to Miami’s emerging “world-class” status. The only problem is the lack of information. The DDA’s website has gotten much more user friendly, but does not contain much information on the plan. Miami-Dade’s website doesn’t do much better—it references the project as a bike path. The funding being designated at 1,000,000 seems too low–begging the question of whether this is a seperate similar project or linked to the promenade initiative. On this end, the information is incomplete, and the desire to attain it is serious. BOB will certainly devote quite a bit of time to uncovering the status, potential, cost, and other factors surrounding this vital project.

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