The ceremony marked the official start of a complete overhaul of the City’s historic main street in the heart of Downtown Miami and will result in a revitalized and enhanced Flagler Street that is more pedestrian oriented and business friendly.
“Today marks another welcome step in Downtown Miami’s continued growth and revitalization,” said Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who was on hand for the groundbreaking ceremony. “Flagler Street was Miami’s original main street and the project that we kicked off today will go a long way to once again making it a thriving thoroughfare that welcomes our residents and visitors and bolsters local businesses.”
The project will transform the street from its current design into a pedestrian-friendly, festival-style boulevard. Features including wider sidewalks, enhanced landscaping, improved lighting, public art and outdoor seating areas will combine to make the space more welcoming to pedestrians and to outdoor activities such as open-air dining and festivals. Curb-less drains, patterned pavers and limited on-street parking will further improve the experience, while still allowing for vehicles to safely traverse the corridor.
“Downtown’s Flagler Street is an integral part of Miami’s history and an equally important part of its future – as a commercial center, a place for Miamians to gather and for visitors to enjoy,” said Miami Commission Chairman Ken Russell, whose District includes Downtown Miami. “This project is many years in the making and the wait will be worth it, as the revamped Flagler Street will be a catalyst for economic growth in the heart of our city for decades to come.”
Work on the project is beginning at the easternmost end of Flagler Street, where it intersects with Biscayne Boulevard, and will proceed westward in five phased sections, reaching its conclusion at the intersection of Flagler Street and Southwest 1st Avenue. Dividing the project into sections will help minimize the impact construction has on the many businesses that line Flagler Street. The anticipated construction time for each phase is approximately nine months, and work will be performed sequentially with minor overlaps, for an estimated construction duration of 30 months.
“With a safer and more attractive environment and with wider sidewalks and more shade, the enhancements to Downtown Miami’s historic main street will bring increased vitality to our current retailers and restaurants,” stated District 4 City Commissioner and Miami Downtown Development Authority Chair Manolo Reyes. “We visited the existing businesses a few weeks ago, before breaking ground, to make sure that they keep operating without disruption during construction.”
Once completed, the new Flagler Street will offer opportunities for festivals, special events, outdoor concerts and family evenings. Already home to hundreds of shops and restaurants and lined with historic buildings, such as the Olympia Theater and the Alfred I. duPont Building , the reimagined and more pedestrian-friendly Flagler Street will be ready to take back its rightful place as Miami’s downtown cultural destination.
“We envision a mix of our current merchants with the opportunity to attract new businesses and development to make Flagler Street the commercial destination it has historically been for our city,” stated Terrell Fritz, Executive Director of the Flagler District BID.
“We’re excited about constructing the new Flagler Street,” concluded Hector Badia, Interim Director of Capital Improvements for the City of Miami. “This is a rare opportunity to transform Miami’s downtown into a special place.”
The redevelopment of Flagler Street coincides with Downtown Miami’s ongoing emergence as a thriving, live-work-play urban district, with nearly 100,000 residents and a daytime population of more than 250,000. Additionally, Downtown Miami has emerged as a popular tourist destination, growing from 3.1 million visitors in 2010 to nearly 6 million tourists today, according to Miami DDA data.