Strolling through the western side of Downtown Miami (the area between I-95 and Miami Ave), can be quite a disheartening experience. When you envision the center of a city as well known as ours, you picture dense streets full of people and activity, especially in the immediate vicinity of the biggest station (Government Center Station) in the city's public mass transit rail system! The reality, however, is that this part of Downtown is far from resembling a major urban center at all; endless blocks of fenced in parking lots and decrepit faceless buildings make up a very desolate landscape, but with the new passenger rail train hub being built by All Aboard Florida, often called Miami's "Grand Central Station", that's all about to change.
A quick glance at a map of the land use around Government Center Station, put together by Matthew Toro at miamigeographic.com, reveals the immediate area around the station mainly consists of parking lots and institutional buildings (mainly courthouses); lacking any substantial residential, commercial, or office land use. It is hard to fathom that some of the best connected land in our city is practically abandoned. (as it also is at multiple other Metrorail stations, mostly to the north) The area in need of improvement is vast and it would take a combination of several projects to significantly alter the current landscape. Fortunately, that is precisely what is brewing here. An explosion of change is impending and it will transform this part of Downtown forever.
At the epicenter of it all, is All Aboard Florida's Miami Grand Central Station. This massive elevated station will sit on various blocks of parking lots between the Metrorail tracks and NW 1st Ave, connecting to Government Center station. Apart from a 21st century terminal for trains travelling from Miami to Orlando, the station plan includes thousands of square feet of retail and office space. There have also been talks of consolidating a Miami-Dade Transit bus depot into the plan in exchange for county land adjacent to the project expanding the station's already enormous footprint.
All around the station, new developments are being planned. To the south east at 70 SW 1st Street, a 51-story tower will sit on top of an existing municipal parking lot. To the north west, at the old Miami Arena site, a Las Vegas-worthy 2000 room Marriot Hotel and Convention center will rise (in previous announcements, the hotel was shown to be directly connected to the station via a concourse, although it seems that plan has been eliminated) as part of the epic, city-within-a-city, Godzilla-sized mega project Miami World Center.
To the north east, All Aboard Florida and Don Peebles have teamed up on an Overtown redevelopment megaproject which will include affordable residential and retail space, which as previously reported by Curbed, will be directly connected to the Choo-Choo. This project promises to return Overtown to the vibrant neighborhood it once was.
To the south west, HistoryMiami has recently expanded into the old Miami Art Museum space at the Miami-Dade Cultural Center, which it will utilize to showcase the thousands of artifacts it has collected to tell Miami's History. In the vicinity, the new Miami Children's Courthouse is about to open, and a push for a new facility to replace the historic Dade County Courthouse at 73 W. Flagler St. is currently in full swing. This would mean the beautiful structure could end up in the hands of a developer with the deep pockets to restore it properly, and be remodeled into a fancy hotel or residential building conveniently located next to the busy station. It is also worth noting, that the court marks the endpoint for the Flagler street re-do, planned to revitalize the historic street all the way from Biscayne Boulevard to the court.—Andy Morales
· Future FEC Downtown Miami Station [Curbed Miami]