In late January, we published a story on the failed gardens project in the heart of mega-development Midtown Miami. The development's representatives were not pleased. Here's a letter we received from Deborah Samuel, Midtown's director of operations:
I am writing in response to the January 20 article entitled, "Harry Nelson's Midtown Gardens debacle." The story diverted from an isolated circumstance about World Gardens temporary installation to a negative viewpoint on the entire Midtown Miami development. While it is unfortunate that World Gardens did not come to fruition as we had hoped, Midtown has many successful attributes that were not included in the article, providing a one-sided, limited perspective to Miami New Times readers.
Target, a so-called "un-happening" retailer, is one of the highest-grossing locations in the U.S., and has brought a new level of convenience to the neighborhood and nearby Miami Beach. The development also draws more than four million visitors per year, not quite the lifeless place conveyed in the article. Beyond the big-box retailers, Midtown Miami offers local eateries and stores that have given the area its own character and a sense of community, where people stroll the sidewalks, meet with friends and take advantage of outdoor seating. Midtown Miami's objective is not to foster a shopping center, but a true urban neighborhood within the art epicenter of Miami.
Contrary to what the article states, Midtown Miami is an attractive place to live. The fact that approximately 1,000 residences have been 98 percent leased for more than two years, with an ongoing waiting list, is a testament to the demand to live in Midtown. Midtown also regularly receives inquiries about the condo sales program, which has not been formally launched as of yet. While there are no condos located above Ross Dress for Less, as the story also mentions, Midtown has morphed into a hybrid property, where you can live steps from restaurants, boutique shops and big-box, everyday retailers simultaneously.
We have continuously extended ourselves to community artists and creative individuals, many times offering them free space in our common areas to encourage the support of local art and culture. Harry Nelson's desire to approach Midtown Miami with the idea for World Gardens was simply to give back to the community without any connections or ties to myself or other parties involved. Yes, World Gardens temporary installation was an ambitious project, but Midtown Miami is dedicated to bringing installations, art fairs, sculptures and other visionary projects to an emerging area, and this activity should be embraced.
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It is important that readers are provided with the opportunity to formulate their own opinions by being presented with all of the facts. Otherwise, the story is a disservice to those who believe in urban development, have experienced Midtown Miami first hand, and support the continued growth of the neighborhood.