It's no secret that downtown is Miami's burgeoning arts and culture mecca. Instead of the often touted (and often overpriced) Wynwood, our city center is rapidly stepping up to the plate and claiming its crown as a hub for all things art.
In keeping with this evolution, the Adrienne Arsht Center has just been awarded a hefty $250,000 grant from ArtPlace to establish an Office of Neighborhood Development. The new group will lead the development and planning of the surrounding neighborhoods.
The endeavor makes the Arsht Center one of the first performing arts venues in the nation to have an office dedicated to planning and developing its own neighborhood, aka, placemaking.
"It's a matter of being a thought leader; being aware and addressing public projects like I-395 corridor and its renovation as a critical piece of our neighborhood," says Arsht Center president and CEO John Richard.
The Arsht Center previously received $300,000 from ArtPlace in 2011, which led to the creation of the Town Square Neighborhood Development Corporation (TSNDC), a nonprofit dedicated to heading up the neighborhood's transformation. Since then, they created an all-encompassing master plan, and the next step is a plan of action for the new project.
ArtPlace's mission is to "accelerate creative placemaking across the U.S.," by doling out funds to deserving organizations. O Cinema also received funds from ArtPlace last week.
The idea, according to Richard, is that the grant will help fund the daily diligence of monitoring all pieces of the downtown development puzzle, from studies on highways to planning for green space. And while they're in the earliest stage (the grant was just announced last week), they've been planning for this for awhile.
"What I will remind you was considered a blighted area eight years ago, we're now imagining very clearly a new sort of town square of downtown Miami that could be a worldwide destination in and of itself," Richards says.
It's barely born, and sounds like the new group already has a lot on its plate. They'll be working hand in hand with agencies and organizations that have an impact on the area, including Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Florida Department of Transportation, Pérez Art Museum Miami, Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, City of Miami, Miami-Dade County, the Miami Downtown Development Authority, and private property owners.
Of crucial importance, Richard adds, in addition to the planning and layout of the new I-395 corridor (date still TBD), is the connection between the various museums and the Arsht Center.
"Isn't it fantastic that at this point in time we're so future oriented but at the same time, this is such a great city to wake up in every morning ... today. There's an aesthetic to Miami that causes you to think in the highest way possible."