Image: The Parkwest Skyline as seen from Biscayne Boulevard
Parkwest: The Hole in the Center of the Donut
Let’s consider the lay of the land. The map below is intended to illustrate the condition of Parkwest’s periphery. The neighborhood is the most central in the entire urban core. This was not always the case. The CBD held that right for decades, but the expansion of development northward towards the Design District stretched the Core beyond its traditional limits. Since Parkwest is so centralized, it is affected by numerous surrounding neighborhoods. The effects are both negative and positive. Dana Nottingham, director of the DDA, is quoted as saying that Parkwest is the “hole in the center of the donut.” Let’s see what he’s talking about:
About the map’s colors:
- Blue represents the Parkwest sub-district as defined by the DDA.
- Green represents significant development activity with a positive spillover effect on Parkwest.
- Yellow indicates encouraging signs of growth but not enough to create a positive spillover effect.
- Red indicates low income housing, little to no development activity, and a general negative spillover effect.
We’re talking about linkage. When the term “spillover effect” is used, it means that activity from one area can pass into and influence the next. Parkwest’s future is linked to that of its surrounding neighborhoods and vice versa. Let’s further consider the quadrants colored on the map above:
The Red Quadrant
This area includes East Overtown and S.W. Wynwood. Although S.W.Wynwood is better positioned to benefit from nearby development than East Overtown, it is still far from being stable. There is little to no new development or retail activity in either of the two areas. The I-95 does provide a barrier for parts of East Overtown and the I-395 for S.W. Wynwood, but the reality is that any headway Parkwest makes could be clouded by instability in these areas.
Upper Yellow Quadrant
The Media and Entertainment District is making positive strides although several developments have either been held back or are at a standstill. Nevertheless, the City’s designation of the area gives it direction and the PAC is a solid anchor. Currently, only Parc Lofts stands in defiance of the area’s instability, but Filling Station Lofts is soon to join it, and the MAX Tower may soon join the mix. The further stabilization of this section of the M&E will have a positive spillover effect on S.W. Wynwood, which may in turn mitigate its current negative state.
This quadrant includes a part of the M&E, South Edgewater, Biscayne Boulevard, and the east CBD. This entire swath of the City is arguably the most active in terms of new development, capital improvements, and public space initiatives. Additionally, it faces the waterfront. There is no doubt that it’s continued progress is a huge benefit for Parkwest.
Lower Yellow Quadrant
This area includes the west CBD and portions of the Miami River district. There is spotty development through out and the presence of the River is a solid foundation for further expansion, but the CBD interior remains largely untouched by new development except along the Miami River.
The Bite in the Donut
The yellow quadrants, although not yet established and stable, will likely be both in the near future. In other words, those quadrants are expected to turn green. The red quadrant will likely gradually recede in the portion east of the I-95 as activity picks up, but it’ll remain an uphill battle. If Dana is right and Parkwest is the hole in the center of the donut, then the Red Quadrant is the bite.
Image: Model of Museum Park from the Parkwest vantage point
An anchor is a building, project, public space or combination there of that exudes a tremendously positive effect on the area surrounding it by generating jobs, attracting visitors and overall attention to the neighborhood. These are important for retailers because their goal is to target high traffic areas. Let’s see what anchors play into Parkwest:
The Performing Arts Center: With all of the negative things one can say about how long it took to be built, the parking it lacks, the funds it continues to insatiably consume, and operational uncertainties, it is still a marvelous establishment designed by a world class architect and an undeniably vital contribution to Miami’s cultural scene and civic pride. This makes Parkwest a more desirable place for restaurants where PAC patrons can dine either before or after they frequent a show, or even return to on a non-show night.
Image: The AAA as seen from Biscayne Boulevard
The American Airlines Arena: The AAA lures tens of thousands of visitors to the Core every year. They park along the fringes of Parkwest. However, these people have little reason to endeavor into Parkwest before or after the game. The completion of Marquis, Ten Museum Park, 900 Biscayne, and Marina Blue, may change that with ground level retail that may include restaurants, but nevertheless the presence of the AAA is a major positive contribution. 600 Biscayne and Paramount Park remain pending but would further spread this type of retail activity if built.
Museum Park: Having two outstanding museums in your neighborhood is rare. Rarity and high value often go hand in hand. Granted, Bicentennial Park remains an outpost of homeless activity but the Museums architects have been selected and the plans are moving forward. Museum Park will benefit the entire city, but Parkwest is going to feel the direct effect of visitors streaming in and out. It is also important to note that the plans for repositioning the I-395 calls for the creation of park land along the current I-395 path. This would mean that the northern boundary of Parkwest would go from a loud eyesore of an overpass to a scenic park.
These anchors are visitor attraction mechanisms. Parkwest sits in the middle of this visitor gravitational pull. This, along with the new construction being seen along Parkwest’s east side, is creating a rather favorable situation for prospective retailers.
Images: Nightclubs and lounges in Parkwest
Downtown’s Nightclub Hub
Parkwest is the focal point of Downtown’s club scene with a strip of nightclubs and lounges that currently runs along N.E. 11th street and N.E. 2nd Avenue. It adds a unique economic and social layer to the community. Were the retail sector to develop in Parkwest, the hood’s nightlife might influence operating hours to extend. Restaurants stay open longer. Stores persist with their selling into the evening–à la South Beach. If you’re a Miamian, you should know the routine by now. There are those who argue that it will conflict with the residential component by creating loud noise and fostering lascivious activity, but this is not new. SoFi is still going through this same issue with it’s surrounding towers and the nightclubs nearby. This will pan itself out as occupancy settles the area.
Zyscovich’s Master Plan and FEC Corridor
The master plan developed and proposed by the ingenious folks at Zyscovich and promoted by the DDA calls for the creation of a hotel and conference facility in Parkwest.
Here is a quote from the Zyscovich Parkwest report, as seen in Risa Polansky’s recent Miami Today article,
“[Parkwest] is ideally located as a future expansion area for office and hotel development,” the plan’s executive summary states. “The area could accommodate construction of a new Miami Conference Center facility and conference hotel, tying the area west of Biscayne to the waterfront and park along a new public open space as well as providing street level retail, dining and entertainment uses compatible with a conference center.”
The planners call for at least 1,000 hotel rooms, a widening of the streets, increased access to the waterfront, and new landscaping features. Parkwest’s appeal to the hotel market is no mere coincidence. Aside from a proposed conference center that would lure business conventions and trade shows, the presence of the PAC, AAA, and in the future, Museum Park, make Parkwest more than alluring to tourists. It’s in the center of the Core, close to South Beach, near the waterfront, and home to a rowdy nightlife. Almost like a perfect setup were it not for the bite in the donut.
Image: Street car system near the FEC Corridor–before (above) and after (below).
The FEC corridor could be a future public transit route for a streetcar/trolley or the people mover. Although it bisects a vast swath of Miami. Its southern end begins just south of Parkwest, which would be directly affected by any FEC corridor transit initiative. Zyscovich has a plan for the corridor, which would link areas to the north directly to the center of the Core. The resulting enhanced linkage to other areas of the City would make Parkwest even more desirable for retailers and residents.
Parkwest Land Acquisition Map (Boymelgreen and Kodsi):
Map: Boymelgreen-owned parcels are shown in blue and Daniel Kodsi -owned parcels are shown in red.
Under the Surface
Regarding land acquisitions, either Daniel Kodsi (Royal Palm) and Shaya Boymelgreen can’t find buyers for their Parkwest lots (along N.E. 2nd Ave), or they simply aren’t letting go of them. The fact remains, they are the effective landlords of Parkwest. This may be old news, but it’s good news. They’re still sitting at the table and haven’t folded. Their plans may very well be far reaching. Rest assured, they’re watching closely to see if the Zyscovich plans get approved.
It appears that Parkwest will shape out to be a touristy neighborhood. Ironic when one considers the current deplorable state of security. For now, tourists have no place to eat or shop at within Parkwest, but plenty of places to dance. Still, retailers will not remain blind to the area’s potential. As occupancy settles, the ground level retail will be filled. That might not be a big deal, but it’s better than what there is now, nothing. Whether it takes four years or ten, Parkwest is poised to become a superstar neighborhood–worthy of international acclaim. This is if all goes through. That’s not a small if, but there aren’t many neighborhoods where one can set up a business with such tremendous possibilities. Retailers, hoteliers, and restaurateurs aren’t likely to ignore this.