I will always love Miami, but it's starting to look like Orlando and its theme-park attractions and busloads of tourists. Maybe some Miamians should come up here to the Big Apple for a while and see that a city is not only made of beautiful beaches and perfect weather, but also of every soul who lives in it and redefines it each day. That New York has. Miami doesn't.

Miguel Fernandez
New York City

Lincoln Road: Dissent from Popular Praise
Jim Mullin's article about the renaissance of Lincoln Road was most welcome, but I challenge a particular phrase. Mullin said South Miami's Shops at Sunset Place was "universally acclaimed."

It is, rather, universally condemned by the thousands of motorists who must pass by the Red Road approach to the Shops at Sunset, which ties up South Dixie Highway. Traffic is backed up for blocks in both directions on Dixie at all hours of the day and night.

It is reported that South Miami merchants are planning to hire a public relations agency to combat the negative feelings about the gigantic insult to the environment. They don't need a PR firm. They do need some innovative engineering to alleviate the intolerable delays. And we haven't yet seen the Shops open during a Christmas season.

Jim, please praise Lincoln Road often. But forget about South Miami.
Gerald Schwartz
Miami Beach

Lincoln Road: Now Here Is a Visionary
Thank you, Jim Mullin, for "Lincoln Road Miracle." Finally we have a journalist with the courage to write what one reader feels. For a long time now I've missed having a Gap store on Lincoln Road.

There, it's out. I know some readers will disagree. But thank you, New Times, for giving me the courage to write this letter about fabulous Lincoln Road. Remember when all those artists no one could understand were on the Road? They needed to use more colors! Like clothes at the Gap. I mean, we need entertainment. That's what we want.

Three cheers for the people who got it done, especially those folks who work behind the scenes: the lawyers and lobbyists who get such a bad rap in the mainstream press. If this is a secret conspiracy to get the Gap in, it sure is a pleasant one! With all the bad news in the world today, this is the kind of victory people need. Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma, Banana Republic -- these guys really rock! You can tell from their catalogues that we need this type of merchant.

Now, one suggestion. There is not enough storage space in these small restaurants where we'll be eating after we shop. How about small storage kiosks? You don't really need all that foliage there. And with all those pretty models in town, you could probably hire some and give them little chits to hand out in return for storing your purchases. Maybe they could wear Gap clothes and it wouldn't cost taxpayers anything because it would be kind of a promotional thing.

You also might think this a little presumptuous, but how about video surveillance cameras so we can dance at Cuban cafes on Lincoln Road without worrying about someone stealing our things. When Mr. Mullin recommended that, I just about flipped because that is what I've been thinking all along! But the fact is I am concerned about Rollerblading thieves.

One more thing (I hope you can print this all). Thank you for highlighting the new Lincoln Road's movie theater with only 300 parking spaces instead of the 3000 required by some rule invented by people who like to frustrate other people. Where would we have found a space for a 3000-car parking garage on Lincoln Road? And parking garages are dangerous places. At the Shops at Sunset Place in South Miami they have one on the other side of U.S. 1 and no one uses it!

We would need more surveillance and more police on bicycles with regard to the Rollerbladers.

Anyhow 80 percent of Americans are obese, and so walking from, say, Fifth Street to Lincoln Road will improve the general fitness of people and is a good idea. That's for people who don't dance at Cuban cafes, of course. You can really work up a sweat doing the merengue, but it is not for everyone, like Anglos. And you should recommend that there be at least two more Gap stores on Alton Road for the walk back to my car.

Finally thanks to Mr. Mullin for drawing the parallel between the new Lincoln Road and the Shops at Sunset Place. Finally people are being forced to walk around South Miami. I for one swear that in the old days you always had to drive and pass by those little shops that never carry things you can buy at the Gap. And probably the workers in the little stores don't have health care, so they are better off working at the Gap.

Anyhow, one more thing? The best thing about the Shops at Sunset is the imitation banyan tree out front on Sunset. It is a true signature piece. It is done so well, the plastic leaves are almost real. In fact they are so close they fool songbirds who flock there because it is so cool and shady. How nice to have all those songbirds greeting you on the way to shop!

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