Death foretold for downtown Miami

Due to their incompatibility, casinos will have a damaging impact on the performing arts center, the arena, the future museums, Gusman Theater, even Jungle Island and the Children’s Museum on Watson Island. All of it is going to suffer.

Death foretold for downtown Miami

By Daniel Shoer Roth
The Miami Herald

Miami-Dade’s residents are in danger of missing the train to progress.

For years, civic leaders, politicians, visionary entrepreneurs and advocates of sustainable urban development have delineated multiple initiatives to revitalize downtown Miami, an area that until not long ago turned into a ghost town after sunset. The efforts have been concentrated mainly in the creation of districts with their own identities.

The Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center is the anchor of what will be a cultural oasis once the new Miami museums of art and science are built at Bicentennial Park. The American Airlines Arena welcomes thousands of music and sports fans every weekend. At Park West dance revelers party until noon of the next day. A little bit to the north, the city glitters with Wynwood’s art galleries, Midtown’s buoyant city life and the Design District.

The goal has been to repopulate downtown and its adjacent areas to the north and west aiming to reverse the unbridled urban expansion toward the suburbs that created pockets of poverty and marginalization in the inner city. The urban landscape is now composed of a legion of residential towers, a magnet for restaurants, cafés, bars, gyms and other commercial establishments.

Planners and authorities — grudgingly at times — tried to make the uses compatible with what’s existing in the surroundings so that the different districts would merge together in a cohesive mosaic, without forgetting the rights of neighbors, who are the soul of each place.

That sustainable vision, which has been accomplished at a high cost of sweat and hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars, would explode with the arrival of destination resort casinos, which would undermine the identity of the downtown area, not to mention that the public will end up picking up the tab for the infrastructure. It would be, undoubtedly, a negative transformation.

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