north beach yard brings on acclaimed new urbanist

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

north beach yard brings on acclaimed new urbanist:

community gives feedback on proposed concept

The founders of North Beach Yard have turned to Andres Duany, an acclaimed architect and urban designer, to help them design the site for their proposed pop-up food and community concept if they get the go-ahead from the City of Miami Beach.
 
Duany spoke to the North Beach community at a public meeting this week to hear residents’ ideas for the project and to address any concerns. His participation created a buzz among the more than 100 people in attendance.
 
Duany’s firm, DPZ was founded “to replace suburban sprawl with neighborhood-based planning.” He and partner Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk were both partners in the Miami firm Arquitectonica but left in 1980 after they “struggled with how the individual buildings they designed did not relate in any meaningful way to the cities surrounding them.” They developed the famous Seaside resort in the Florida Panhandle, considered one of the iconic examples of New Urbanism. It includes a town center with shopping and dining that is within walking distance of nearby homes and offices.
 
Speaking to RE:MiamiBeach about the North Beach Yard concept, Duany said, “This is the future of public spaces in America. It’s the exact opposite of Brickell City Center, which is the last of the dinosaurs.”
 
North Beach Yard is the next iteration of The Wynwood Yard founded by Della Heiman, which allows food and beverage entrepreneurs the opportunity to test concepts with a lower cost of entry, operating out of food trucks, shipping containers, and other pop-up materials. It has grown to five vacant lots since its’ opening in November 2015. The food yard also hosts live music and other cultural activities, fitness classes, yoga, art and gardening classes, all showcasing local entrepreneurs.
 
Given the temporary nature of the test concept, Duany said, “It will transform itself every six months. It has an incredible agility to keep up with culture.” Speaking of Heiman he said, “The developer is a millennial. This is actually the first glimpse of a new generation taking over and manifesting itself.”
 
Heiman and North Beach Yard co-founder Ken Lyon recently spoke to the Planning Board about how the concept will be tailored to North Beach. Heiman said their experience in building The Wynwood Yard allows them the opportunity in North Beach to start off “with more culinary tenants, with several retail tenants that are all focused on local concepts and to do more with sustainable farming, gardens, and community programming.” Perhaps the biggest difference is an idea for a retail marketplace “focused on local food and beverage concepts ... Wynwood people don’t really come to The Yard to do their grocery shopping but because North Beach is so residential in nature we think that there’s a really great opportunity to have a farm stand and have local purveyors selling all kinds of food goods.”

 


At the meeting residents sampled food concepts and placed stickers on poster boards indicating their priorities for activities before having a chance to ask questions.

 The residential nature of the area is a key difference between Wynwood Yard and the project proposed for North Beach. With regard to programming and noise concerns, Heiman told the residents at the meeting that operating hours have not been established for the site which is proposed for one of the City-owned West Lots on Collins Avenue between 81st and 82nd Streets. Right now, she said, “The priority is to work with the community, being respectful of its needs and maintaining the character of the neighborhood.”
 
Ideas for reducing the noise include making headphones available so each visitor can have their own personal entertainment experience, adding landscaping to act as a sound buffer, and giving consideration to the design of the sound system. She assured the audience, however, that “loud, raging parties are not part of the model. It is a family friendly environment where people can join in and connect.”
 
While Wynwood Yard has a garden on-site, Heiman is hoping to do something bigger in North Beach. “We want to make North Beach a hub for sustainability and green initiatives, connecting people with where their food comes from,” she said.
 
Heiman and Duany would like to incorporate the log cabin that is on the lot into the design and programming though that may prove challenging. Miami Beach Commissioner Ricky Arriola, who is spearheading the project, said the cabin has suffered significant termite damage and is now being evaluated to determine if all or any part of it can be restored.
 
When asked about the “temporary” nature of North Beach Yard, Arriola responded that the North Beach Master Plan contemplated using the West Lots for public use, though it suggested that one or more of them might be sold to pay for that public use. He said he’d like to see as little private development there as possible. North Beach Yard, he said, is a “stake in the ground” that he hopes is “so wildly successful, it becomes a fixture in the community. My hope is you’re going to fight us from doing anything to take it away.” And, “if it doesn’t work,” he said, “It’s temporary.”
 
Duany said, what excited him about North Beach and the Master Plan is the town center concept. He said he’s done “hundreds of other town centers and this is going to make them all look out of date.” (Duany deadpanned, that’s spelled “outtadate – it’s a technical term.”). He added, “If we’re allowed to do it, this is going to be the coolest thing in Dade County.”
 
North Beach Yard needs to go through the Commission’s Finance Committee for lease negotiations, the Planning Board for a code amendment to allow public use of the proposed lot, and to the Commission for final approval. Arriola hopes it is up and running by next spring.
 
Photo (top): The Wynwood Yard
Meeting photo: Fahad Asmat


 

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