Miami recently made the cut for Amazon’s much desired second headquarters. The area has pitched eight different sites throughout Miami-Dade County. Three of which are located within the City of Miami limits.
One of the most exciting sites is the one being offered as the Innovation District/Worldcenter site. This site has 23 million square feet of planned developments which include residential, retail, office and hotel space. The clear goal is offering Amazon a place where employees can live, work and play. Several other factors in play are the potential for Tax Increment Financing with a possible $1 billion value, just in time breaking of ground, office space to meet the 8 million square feet that Amazon needs and transit availability.
In addition, HQ2 would have easy access to the new high speed Brightline rail service which will connect Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando (2020). The Tri-Rail, Metrorail, Metromover and I-95 are all also accessible within minutes.
Locally, there should be excitement about Miami making it to the final list of 20 cities. Cities that include New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Toronto, Boston and Chicago. If we can attract a whale like Amazon then the future is bright for Miami’s burgeoning (and hot) tech scene. Whether it is Amazon or Apple the Innovation District is real and will bring in a whole new industry to our city. It is fair to say that real estate values, rents and transportation will be impacted if unlike Ahab we can bring one home.
Miami-Dade County prepares Metromover extensions for Miami Beach and Wynwood. In their first nascent move toward realizing the multi-billion dollar SMART transit plan, county officials stated that the planned linking of the beach and the downtown area could add another 10 stops for the Metromover.
Concurrently, Uber has added Miami to its list of cities where the lauded ride-sharing app includes public transportation information in real-time. This integration is currently being piloted in 40 U.S. markets with the hopes of nationwide expansion.
South Florida in general has amongst the most congested roads in the world; in fact we rank number 10 in the world. Ten is scary considering the metro is just over 100 years old. To put that in perspective, Los Angeles has a 12.7 percent congestion rate which means drivers spend 12.7 percent of their commutes in traffic. Miami is at 8.7 percent and ranks fifth amongst most congested areas in the United States with much less of a footprint than Los Angeles. This is ahead of D.C., Boston, Dallas and even Chicago.
South Florida, like most new metros, was built backwards. It began with an urban core but quickly sprouted other towns and eventually cities outside of the city limits. Coral Gables, Hialeah, Doral and Kendall (not yet a city) are some examples of the initial urban sprawl that created this traffic monster. As little as ten years ago, Downtown Miami was a place you did not want to be after 5pm for its crime rate, lack of open businesses, and overall rundown look.
Luckily, we are now at a crossroads where we have “run out of land” and are looking back into the urban core for development. At the top of the list should be a focus on mass transit and the need for it to catch up to new development. I commend the county and Uber for spearheading the future of mass transit in Miami.