Will the Miami Baywalk Ever Get Done?
Aug 29, 2018 August 29, 2018
Miami’s bay walk, extending from Edgewater to Brickell, has been in the planning stages for decades, and yet, with plenty of false starts, it is still nowhere near completion. At times, the civic dream of a completely interconnected bay walk connecting and opening Miami’s urban core to the waterfront appears completely dead in its tracks.
Recent additions to the baywalk include sections behind Icon Bay, Paraiso Bayviews, and Biscayne Beach in Edgewater. Upcoming sections include the Genting/Resorts World Miami site, the Miami Women’s Club section, and Missoni Baia, both also in Edgewater or adjacent. However, these are piecemeal and disjointed, with no real overarching plan for the entire thing.
The law currently requires that any new construction on Biscayne Bay from Brickell to Edgewater include a publicly accessible baywalk. Buildings built since 1979 have been required to include this public baywalk, but many residents of older buildings are resistant to turning their private bay frontage into a public right-of-way.
This pattern of development has led to a choppy and incomplete bay walk, with obstacles in between complete sections. Many of the missing interconnections are on public land and would require cooperation with the city, county, and other public entities to extend the bay walk under or around bridges, and past dead-end streets. Although the implementation of the sections of bay walk on public land would be easy, they require an organized push by the City of Miami government and other public entities that simply hasn’t happened yet.
There has been a lot of talk, but little action on the part of government officials to get organized and complete the bay walk. Arguments over funding, sea level rise, and the impacts to high value condos along the water persist. Recently city commissioner Ken Russell proposed a $25 million bond issue to finance the rest of the project.
There are a few efforts by different groups to complete the baywalk. The Related Group, Miami’s biggest developer, is advocating for the section of the baywalk that runs through Edgewater, where they have developed a few towers recently. Called the Biscayne Line, it would connect their projects in the area: the Paraiso District and Icon Bay.
A few years ago, Related sponsored a design studio for architecture students at the University of Miami, to come up with ideas for the Biscayne Line. Proposals included floating docks, elevated observation platforms, artificial mangroves, lagoons, and interesting juxtapositions of public and private space.
More recently, the Miami Downtown Development Authority created their own vision for the baywalk with Savino Miller Landscape Architects. As part of the proposal, they suggested a rebranding of the baywalk as the ‘Miami Walk,’ along with unifying design elements and wayfinding signage.
Although there is considerable public interest in completion of the baywalk, and various entities have thrown their considerable muscle behind its completion, a lack of organization has to make one wonder if it will be completed anytime in the near future.