New Skate Park Under I-95 Overpass Opening in 2015

Skaters haven't always been embraced by city officials, much less considered a positive influence on the community. Remember the early '00s and that spate of skater stereotypes? Yeah, that.

But thanks to Nick Katz and his efforts with Skate Free, skate enthusiasts are starting to get the attention of Miami leaders.

A graduate of New World School of the Arts and avid skater, Katz and team have been looking for creative ways to foster a sense of community -- both for skaters and everyone else. And now, they've been named a winner in the Miami Foundation's Public Space Challenge. Their project, a skate park and community green space, will transform the currently defunct nothingness under I-95 at the MPA Lot 11 at NW Third Ave. and First Street.

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After Katz and several others helped create the now-closed Grand Central Park, they were inspired to do more.

"We put in some of our own money to create a paved 20,000 square-foot platform. Miami-Dade donated some benches, people donated mini ramps, and from there we started to actually work with concrete. We let the kids design and build their own obstacles -- ultimately it became a skate park and lasted about a year."

After that, Katz started checking out other global cities and seeing what knowledge he could glean from their efforts.

"I went traveling to cities like Toronto, New York, Paris, Madrid -- all had awesome well-designed skate parks in their center city."

"I've been taking notes on successes and failures in these public spaces.The way I envision it is, I want our organization, Skate Free, to create a groundbreaking public space -- something that's never been seen before here in South Florida," Katz explains.

"I wanted to get the ball rolling for what we could do to have a centrally located skate park that could bring all different kids from the greater Miami area to the center of the city."

So, he applied for the Miami Foundation's Public Space Challenge, and the idea for a public skate park and green space under an I-95 overpass scored a winning spot.

The space won't just be for skaters, Katz says. It'll be designed to appeal to all members of the community. The plan as listed on the Public Space Challenge site includes a "50/50 green space and concrete skate plaza that includes a 200-square-foot sculpture garden, 1000-square-foot dog park, 2000-square-foot play ground, 16,800-square-foot of green space, and a 20,000-square-foot skatepark."

"The dream would be to have an incredible linear park like the High Line in NYC or Templehof Park in Berlin," Katz tells Cultist. "I really want to knock it out of the park, no pun intended."

Currently, they're looking for corporate sponsors and getting the design work underway.

As far as timeline, Katz is thinking July 2015. So if you haven't done an ollie since 2002, your chance is coming.

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Hannah Sentenac covers veg food, drink, pop culture, travel, and animal advocacy issues. She is also editor-in-chief of
Contact: Hannah Sentenac