Courtesy of The Centro

Is Miami going down the walkability path? Developers of The Centro, a downtown housing complex, are banking on it.

Miami and cars. They go together like piña and colada, right?

Well, maybe so. But one new luxury condo in the heart of downtown is making what is, for this Florida city, a bold move. The building in many ways fits the profile of recent development in Miami’s reviving core: It has 36 stories, 352 units, and 10-foot ceilings.

But as for parking? Zero of that.

Not for private motor vehicles, anyway. The Centro, as it’s called, will have a five-car Car2Go auto share station featuring the city-backed service’s distinctive, blue-and-white Smart cars; covered bike parking; and, if Miami gets bike share, maybe one of those stations as well. The project breaks ground this fall.

The marketing materials for the building, which is half sold, according to the Miami Herald, lead with the tagline “Feel the Street. At Your Feet” and feature photos of happy young people biking and walking. Prices range from $220,000 to about $450,000. If you want a place to park your car, there’s a city-owned lot a block away, and it will cost you extra. “The Centro experience takes cosmopolitan city dwelling to street level,” promises the brochure.

The parking-garage-free tower was made possible by city zoning that allows no parking garages in buildings that are close to transit in densely developed areas. The Centro’s location is a quick walk from stations for Miami’s MetroMover and Metrorail. And there are plenty of other amenities within walking distance in the neighborhood, which has seen a revival of residential and commercial use that was slowed but not halted by the real estate crisis. A Whole Foods is under construction just a block from the building.

A couple of rental buildings in the area are also garage-free, but the Centro has definitely upped the ante on the marketing of a walkable downtown lifestyle in Miami. "With downtown at your feet, life moves beyond the commute," according to the promotional materials. "Drive time is replaced with walk time. When you live at the epicenter of a vibrant downtown, you can walk in any directionand find places to explore, shop, dance, walk, drink, lounge, or eat. And when you do need to leave your urban enclave, public transportation is conveniently nearby…."

On the Miami real estate site exMiami, opinion among commenters was divided. One person wrote, "this is a car society, not every city is meant to be new york or chicago; this city should be compared more to L.A. where people live in all sorts of areas and just needs improved parking and better highways."

Another countered with this:

The argument that they’re trying to make Miami into something it is not just doesn’t work. There may not be enough transit oriented life yet in Miami, but why hold ourselves to the standards of the past? Just because someone does not work downtown does not mean that they can’t commute without driving. I work in Coconut grove and take the metrorail every single day. Miami will not evolve unless we push it in the direction we want it to grow in.

Is Miami going down the walkability path? The Centro’s developers are banking on it.


About the Author

Sarah Goodyear
Sarah Goodyear

Sarah Goodyear is a Brooklyn-based contributing writer to CityLab. She's written about cities for a variety of publications, including Grist and Streetsblog.

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