Major Improvements for Lincoln Road on Hold

Lincoln Road

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Major Improvements for Lincoln Road on Hold:

City wants to minimize disruption for businesses recovering from COVID-19 closures

The big improvements planned for Lincoln Road under the James Corner Master Plan are on hold, another casualty of COVID-19. Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales told Mayor Dan Gelber and Commissioners at their meeting this week that he wants to postpone any major construction that would further disrupt businesses as they try to recover from the recent closures precipitated by the pandemic. 

The Lincoln Road Business Improvement District (BID), an organization funded through additional taxes on Lincoln Road businesses for the purpose of improving and stabilizing the retail business district through marketing, promotion and other services, has dropped its expansion plans due to the economic impact of the crisis.

James Corner Field Operations, which designed New York’s famed High Line, developed a plan for the eight-block pedestrian promenade that grew to include underground utility work, a signature trellis at the Washington Avenue entrance, restoring the Morris Lapidus follies and fountains, installing new lighting, landscaping and cameras, and providing connectors to the New World Symphony and Convention Center. When the budget escalated to $77 million, the City pared the plan back to reduce the amount of utility work and eliminated the connectors and trellis. 

The work, however, was still expected to take 6 months per block and could have lasted up to five years if multiple blocks were not done at one time. While businesses would remain open, those with sidewalk cafés said they would be severely impacted during that time.

“It probably doesn’t make sense while the road is trying to recover if we go in and negatively impact the businesses by shutting cafés block by block,” Morales told Commissioners.

For now, he said, he is recommending indefinitely postponing the project and, perhaps, initiating a “more abbreviated program that involves not closing pedestrian walkways or sidewalks” and focusing more on “aesthetic work, infrastructure work on the fountains, and landscaping” but not the “heavy work” in the master plan. “It just doesn’t make sense to move forward on that,” Morales said.

The potential of major construction hanging out there caused a couple of tenants to reach out to the City and ask if it made sense to reopen now when segments of the street could begin closing within 3-4 months. “We want to send a strong message that we’re not going to do that to them because they’re going to be making investments” in reopening.

Lyle Stern, President of Koniver Stern Group, a retail leasing and consulting company that owns and operates properties on Lincoln Road, also serves on the Board of the Lincoln Road BID and has been concerned about the logistics of the construction. He said he was happy Morales raised the issue this week. “We don’t want to start tearing up streets when outdoor dining will be important to our community. We don’t want to further burden landlords and tenants with increased taxes needed to do a capital project, and we don’t want to disrupt businesses when they are starting a recovery period."

Stern said there is another benefit to a delay, the ability to “consider what new standards will the world want [in light of COVID-19] that weren’t anticipated before that we want to bake into the plan.”

Rendering: James Corner Field Operations


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