Last month, Coral Gables embarked on the long-anticipated Miracle Mile and Giralda streetscape projects that will make the City’s Downtown core more pedestrian-friendly, attractive and economically competitive.
Taking steps to turn the vision of a more vibrant Downtown into a concrete reality, City officials formed a steering committee comprised of property owners, merchants, residents and City, Chamber and Business Improvement District (BID) officials to guide the process for the approximately $20 million streetscapes. The group will seek input from stakeholders and community members to “come to a consensus on key components of the project,” said City Public Works Director Glenn Kephart, a member of the committee. It will then recommend key components of the streetscape projects to the City Commission – from the width of sidewalks to proposed street furniture and landscaping. “This is a very exciting project the City will embark on,” Kephart said. “If we’re going to get it right, it has to be done with the cooperation of the community.”
City officials also invited members of the award-winning firm Cooper, Robertson and Partners — which the City Commission hired to design the streetscapes at its meeting November 18 – to visit Coral Gables and meet stakeholders, study the project site and tour other streetscapes in the region. The New York firm was responsible for the design of Museum Park Miami, the Lower Manhattan Streetscape and Battery Park City, among other major projects nationwide.
The Miracle Mile Streetscape will, among other things, install wider sidewalks, plant trees, create garden areas and add outdoor dining along newly landscaped curbs. The plan also calls for benches, kiosks, mid-block parks, intimate public spaces, and plazas for events and gatherings. The Giralda Avenue Streetscape Project includes a complete reconstruction of the block from Galiano Street on the East to Ponce de Leon Boulevard on the West. The streetscape will add lush landscaping, public art, decorative street lighting, way finding and drainage upgrades. The block, known as restaurant row, hosts “Giralda Under the Stars,” a popular venue for outdoor dining and entertainment during the winter months.
As the major thoroughfare for both motorists and pedestrians, Miracle Mile is the City’s premiere commercial street, and its improvement has been identified as a top priority by the City Commission, the BID and the Chamber of Commerce. Studies by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Brooking Institute have found that walkable and attractive environments that offer a variety of services and amenities within easy reach perform better economically. The streetscape projects comes at a time when Downtown Coral Gables is experiencing a housing boom that could add more than 1,000 residential units, as well as approximately 200 hotel rooms, within walking distance of the Downtown core.