Tuesday November 14, 2006

Glimpse of Midtown


I stopped by the Midtown Miami development the other day. It’s still a big construction zone, with only a couple of stores open, but the overall shape is very apparent. This is only a brief look; I got there too late to really check it out.

I have aesthetic quibbles with some of the style decisions, but in terms of substance, this is development done right: mixing retail, office, and several styles of residential buildings in a dense and walkable little mini-district.

midtown miami map

The map. From here, it looks like a regular mall. The residential developments aren’t on this map; they’re to the east. The Target, Linens ‘n Things, and West Elm are a godsend. Petsmart and some of the other stuff I could give or take. Marshalls, there’s one downtown, so I don’t see the point of that really. Plus, who shops at Marshalls, anyway? I have no idea what Loehmanns is.

Midtown Miami residences

Here are the towers going up. Taken from the parking lot of the Target. Some of this stuff has a loooooong way to go before it’s done.

Midtown Miami Target

Target (my camera was set incorrectly; it didn’t really look Satanic). No pictures of the inside — it looks exactly like every other Target in the world, except for the customers, who were maybe slightly hipper looking. It’s not a “super” target (in the parlance of large discount retailers, “super”=“has a big food section”), but there is a sizable food area; just no produce.

Midtown Miami facade

This is a bit of the facade. It’s all still getting finished up, but it looks good. The brick finish I guess is supposed to put the “town” in “Midtown.” Just behind those storefronts across the street is a working-class neighborhood with lots of small old single-family houses. Someone should do a comprehensive photo project on the neighborhood, which is now going to be undergoing some fast and drastic transformation.

Midtown Miami West Elm

Some of the rest of the development, looking quite a bit more generic, though it’s unfair to say that when it’s not finished. This is the West Elm store, which I’m looking forward to. After the target, the only other thing open is Circuit City, which I have zero interest in.

One other interesting note: unlike most malls, the parking garages charge. The rates are weird, too: free for the first hour with Target ticket validation (a pain in the ass), $1 per hour for the next four hours, and then $10 per hour after that. I have no idea what the logic behind those rates is. Someone obviously did some deep thinking about how to maximize their profits, logic and sense be damned. I’ll be surprised if they don’t get so many complaints that they have to change this soon.

Update: Oldswish points out that they got $170 million from the city to build this thing and paying for parking was always part of the plan.

Tags: ,

comments powered by Disqus
  1. travis    Tue Nov 14, 10:31 AM #  

    do they not build book stores anymore? thats all i friggin’ asked for…

  2. alesh    Tue Nov 14, 10:40 AM #  

    i KNOW, right!? I’d take three of those crappy clothing stores for a Borders .

  3. Omni resident    Tue Nov 14, 10:47 AM #  

    Paying to Park? At a Targets? That was a scheme created by Manny Diaz and Linda Haskins. The Diaz/Haskins duo provided $169 Mil in taxpayer funded incentives to the developers of Midtown Miami and the new Targets. So the taxpayers are paying for the parking platform. Then when the taxpayers show up to shop, charge them again.

    Marc Sarnoff, the independent candidate is running against tax and spend Haskins in a Nov 21st Runoff. Tell your friends to show up and vote.

  4. mkh    Tue Nov 14, 11:05 AM #  

    The $10/hour long-term is to discourage people from leaving their cars there for $24/day. It’s not an uncommon practice in mixed environments without a movie theater, particularly in areas where parking is at (or will be at) a premium. I’ve run into the dramatically-escalating charges in the past.

  5. mkh    Tue Nov 14, 12:25 PM #  

    Oh, and as always, nice photos.

  6. edgewater ed    Tue Nov 14, 04:52 PM #  

    But why should we have to pay to park when we paid for the garage?

    Linda Haskins promised us the parking would be free “...just like at Aventura Mall or Dolphin Mall…”

    $24 per day?

  7. NicFitKid    Tue Nov 14, 05:04 PM #  

    Hmm, lemme see.. Twenty-four dollars a day times thirty days a month, that’s… seven twenty with no deposit or security. Not too shabby, a little cheaper than my current rent. If they condo convert my building ahead of schedule, I’ll just trade in my hatchback for a used cargo van, throw in a mattress, rig up a sink and a chem toilet and voila! The most affordable unit in Midtown, available now!

    If I disappear from teh internets, you’ll know what happened.

  8. j-j    Tue Nov 14, 05:08 PM #  

    I’m in Brooklyn for the week, our midtown thing looks just like a new “mall”, that’s here, around Dean Street… It’s all fine and dandy, but wasn’t this supposed to be a midtown that would reflect the arts and culture championed by the galleries in and around Wynwood? WTF??? Where’s the Borders or B&B? I hate to sound negative, but this looks just like Sunset Place-minus the movie theaters and sans the books store… I really think that we got screwed again…and the parking paying thing , well that’s a really a big problem for me.

    I hate to hate, and I’m glad for the Target and the C.City but this could have,and should have been, so much more…:-(

  9. disn'dat    Tue Nov 14, 06:02 PM #  

    alesh & travis:
    neither one of you reads…come on!
    the first, taking all those photos has no time to read, while the other growing that moustache has not time for anything but looking into the mirror. (not, of course, if this is another travis “tho!”)

  10. madeindade    Tue Nov 14, 11:36 PM #  

    You all are spoiled! No one expects to go to the beach or downtown and park for free do they? You want free parking go to Kendall or Pembroke Pines – there’s plenty of free parking out there. Also, Midtown is a ‘CDD’ – Community Development District. The CDD takes a portion of the property taxes paid within the district and is used to fund the infrastructure (streets, sidewalks parking) within the district – hardly a giveaway it seems to me.
    As far as the retail mix, blame it on Developers Diversified as they specialize in suburban big-box crap – I expect that more interesting retail will arrive with the ground-floor retail spaces in the high rises on the east side of Midtown.

  11. Omni resident    Wed Nov 15, 12:06 AM #  

    So in the meantime, we have to keep paying to park? There is no beach here. This is Wynwood.
    Seems like a slick developer conned Manny Diaz and Linda Haskins into giving away the store…

  12. Dayngr    Wed Nov 15, 12:15 AM #  

    I won’t drive down there if I have to pay that much for parking.

  13. Harlan Erskine    Wed Nov 15, 02:34 AM #  

    fyi there is free and metered parking all over there-just park and walk a half a block and your sorted…

    By the way the first photo in the article is stellar. I snuck up there one night a few weeks ago with the Mamiya but i didn’t venture far enough and i had to use the railing as a tripod anyways. The first photo was so great what happened to the colors in the Target sign photo? aren’t you shooting in RAW mode? you could fit that sort of thing in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) is you were.

  14. alesh    Wed Nov 15, 07:14 AM #  


    Sure, you can park on any of the side-streets for free. In fact, that’s probably what I’ll do next time I go down there. But mark my word — the near future will bring a proliferation of “no parking / tow away zone” signs around the neighborhood. And rightly it should — who the hell wants Ross/Target customers parking in front of their house? Obviously this place is going the Sunset Shops route, NOT the Aventura Mall route, w/r/t parking. It’s sort of a bummer. If, as I predict, they change the rates soon, I’d suggest making the first 3 hours free, without validation, charging a dollar per hour after that, and just prohibit parking overnight.

    Regarding the fucked picture, would anyone care to guess why it looks like that? Hint: I’d just shot this picture a moment before.

  15. Manola Blablablanik    Wed Nov 15, 09:15 AM #  

    $1/hour with a four-hour max is not expensive!!!

    Alesh’s suggestion seems reasonable too.

  16. Omni resident    Wed Nov 15, 10:20 AM #  

    The developers will not lower the parking prices. They want the money. To bad too, because they already received $169 Mil in money and incentives from the taxpayers.

    I guess just collecting rent is not enough for them?

    Vote Nov 21st.

  17. Harlan Erskine    Wed Nov 15, 11:31 AM #  


    If you look at the meta data for the pictures, here is the correctly exposed image and if you look at the incorrectly colored picture’s meta data You can see that they both have the same light source setting of “Tungsten (incandescent light)” so the in door image looks great and the outdoor sunlight image looks like you cross processed it or something. try shooting in RAW mode and processing your images when you go home. or you could download for free Adobe’s light room and you could correct your old jpegs too. but they will still never be as good as the RAW images.

  18. conductor    Wed Nov 15, 12:46 PM #  

    They charge for parking at Sunset Place in South Miami and I think that’s one of the reasons the place flopped. Why pay to park in a crummy garage when you can shop at the same exact stores at an indoor mall (Dadeland) two miles away?

  19. alesh    Wed Nov 15, 01:40 PM #  


    You win! I took the D80 off auto WB for the indoor shot and forgot to put it back for the next few pictures. I’ve noticed that unlike with past cameras, daylight pictures shot in tungsten mode on the D80 can’t really be color corrected to look anything close to natural. No big deal, I just have to be more careful in the future, or have more super-cool fucked up pictures.

    Yes, shooting in RAW mode would prevent these problems, but for most stuff like this I can’t be bothered. I’m with Ken Rockwell on this — on the D80 the quality difference between jpg and raw is minute (not so with my friend’s Kodak 14n, though, which has a horribly noisy jpg mode).


    Amen. I wish the Midtown folks had learned from that mistake. If they make it a pain in the ass for people to park there, they’ll loose $10 for every buck they collect in parking fees.

  20. Wynwood stakeholder    Wed Nov 15, 05:53 PM #  

    It is a shame shoppers have to pay to park. And the original buyer/speculator bought the site for a bargain too.

    Imagine going to a Target and having to pay to shop?

    Another City of Miami dumb decision.

  21. Manola Blablablanik    Wed Nov 15, 08:51 PM #  

    Alesh, did you notice an area that said “residential parking” when you went there? I did, about a month ago. I parked on the third level and to the right was supposedly empty because it was residential. Is there a residential tower attached to this building? I thought the residential units were out to the east side of the block.

  22. alesh    Wed Nov 15, 09:13 PM #  

    Yes, I did notice the residential parking. I didn’t pay it any mind, because I didn’t really have the time to explore. Will do so at some point soon. It DOES seem odd that that lot would be the main parking for those residents . . . it’s sort of far to walk, no? Note that the residential towers are not on the map above, either. Weird.

  23. cohen    Wed Nov 15, 10:10 PM #  

    paying to park is like paying to shop,,,, man thats
    great …... miami only get better and better….

  24. conductor    Thu Nov 16, 02:00 AM #  

    I think paid parking to shop is a communist conspiracy. If I ever run for office I’ll promise to remove all parking meters. My wife worked for Neiman Marcus at Merrick Park in Coral gables and had to pay $60 a month to park. They didn’t even pay for any of it. Considering how bad the pay was it was a major expense.

  25. Alex    Thu Nov 16, 11:25 AM #  

    LOL, yeah at Merrick Park it has to be a communist conspiracy – redistribution of wealth.

    In any case guys, pay to park is a reality in most major cities.

  26. alesh    Thu Nov 16, 02:50 PM #  

    Oh SNAP, Alex — i get it, we’re not a “Major City.”

    The “reality” is that paying to park is a function of property values, consumer’s other options, and yes, the landowner’s greed. Time will tell how this particular reality shakes out at Midtown.

  27. Alex    Thu Nov 16, 03:59 PM #  

    I meant the opposite, we ARE a major city. Use of land for free parking is not a realistic expectation. Especially a dense urban area like where Midtown is. I agree with you the system they have is screwed up and something on the vein of first three hours free would be better.

  28. alesh    Thu Nov 16, 05:31 PM #  

    I suspect that Aventura has the one of the highest population/square mile ratios in Dade, and yet Aventura mall has ample FREE parking. Same goes for many many other malls, EVERY SINGLE other Target in the state, AND the fancy SoBe Publix, smack dab in the middle of an EXTREMELY high-property-value area.

    But actually, all I’m just saying is that the Midtown people are not acting in their own self-interests.

  29. Alex    Thu Nov 16, 07:52 PM #  

    You are right, Aventura does have free parking. Aventura also have a gazillion more stores than Midtown would have and probably bought or leased the land a long time ago at a lower price than Midtown. Every other Target is on some kind of strip mall, as far as I know, so not sure how that compares.

    You may be right and Midtown will fail because people won’t park 2 bucks to shop 2 hours, but it doesn’t seem likely to me.

    My point with the major city comment is that these are things that come with the territory. Hopefully other things like improved public transportation – or even a freakin’ bicycle rack at Target – will come too.

  30. Fritz    Thu Nov 16, 11:21 PM #  

    I think Midtown will have much less business due to its pay to park policy.

    Not many people want to be forced to buy something. And it is always annoying to check your watch.

    The land cost for Midtown Miami was actually not that great. I think the City of Miami and Linda Haskins made a mistake. They did not understand the market and they were too hasty to give away the taxpayers money. Now the sales at Midtown Miami will suffer.

  31. Manola Blablablanik    Fri Nov 17, 12:04 AM #  

    I understand everyone’s concern for the fee, but is anyone going to go there to do anything but shop? Even if they had movies, well we’re used to that on South Beach. You can’t go to Lincoln Road or the Regal Cinema without paying for parking.

    Anyway, parking has NEVER been free anywhere Downtown for shopping or other purposes. I’m not saying I wouldn’t rather park for free, of course, but I’d rather pay $1 hour to have major stores next to one convenient parking lot, near Miami Beach, rather than drive to South Miami or Aventura. Egads! That’s how many minutes of my life saved from Miami drivers? You can’t put a price on that! Not to mention it saves time and money. It also doesn’t hurt if the parking garage is well lit and has security. That’s a big plus.

    Alesh, I concur. I don’t understand why those spots labeled as “residential” are so far from the residences. Weird.

  32. alesh    Fri Nov 17, 08:00 AM #  

    The more I think about it, the more I think that if they’d just said “$1 per hour” it wouldn’t be a big deal. “First hour free / Hours 2-5 $1 each / $10 per hour after that” is a pain in my ass. It makes me want to do my Target shopping on the way from home, when I pass three of them if I chart my course right.

  33. cohen    Sat Nov 18, 05:36 PM #  

    mid town miami is not the beach and its not downtown…so please lets not talk as if its the same thing….the truth is those who have something to lose i. e. you drive a nice car and dont want it broken into,,,, will pay… those that dont deal with those issues will find somewhere nearby for free to park….paying to park also keeps out all those poor people that surround midtown miami…..and hell thats how its done in miami,,,, goodluck everyone

  34. jism    Sun Nov 19, 03:41 AM #  

    This place hasn’t changed since I moved here. These guys taught me “donde estan las tetas con vegitales” and since I didn’t know what this meant I would say it while they laughed at my accent and they told me it was a good romantic sentence to say to women. Well that wasn’t the thing to do! And then I met some loud mouth guy who kept saying; he’s a “hater” or she’s a “hater” while I had never heard of this before. Then I thought that this was the cool Miami thing – “hater”. The people in Miami are really pretty awesome!

  35. Fuentes    Tue Nov 21, 07:18 AM #  

    I agree that we still have some way to go but i believe DDR is doing a good job and more shops will soomn come that are on a smaller scale and much more trendy….it s not wishful thinking it is the future of this location…and the upscale residential condos around are soon to be very valuable.

  36. j-j    Tue Nov 21, 01:36 PM #  

    upscale suxx more indy stores please

  37. Taylor Bishop    Tue Nov 21, 02:39 PM #  

    Geez. You people are some cheap bastards. $1 per hour? So what. How long do you spend shopping at Target, really? This is Miami, and you have to PAY to live here. It’s a tough city. Crying over $1 per hour fees is just ridiculous. Who cares if you have to pay $10 after your fifth hour. If you’ve spent more than five hours in that plaza, you’re probably in the trunk of your car anyhow.

  38. circuitmouse    Tue Nov 21, 06:23 PM #  

    Finally getting a Loehmann’s, eh? That’s where all the semi-pseudo-upscale buubes go shopping. Look for a bunch of “if I have to arm wrestle you for that last sweater you’ll be sorry” housewives and their husbands bored to tears hoping no one sees them holding their wives’ purses as they try on clothes…

    I just wish we could find out (1) who the #@?! was behind that OJ book/interview deal in the first place and (2) who decided that “imitation-neo-tuscan” was the preferred upscale mall and shopping center architecture for the whole of the United States. We can only hope for a sinkhole (but they’re usually the buildings that lose their roofs when the storms roll in- so don’t take shelter there. It’s about as safe as a trailer park in SoFla before a hurricane).

  39. oldswish    Wed Nov 22, 04:32 PM #  

    Parking at Target? Bullshit! we gave them a 170 million dollar tax break, in return we were promised free parking AND over 100 affordable housing units. When the final deal was inked, Diaz incorporated had none of those provisions in there. I went to Target at MT last sunday and knew I was only going to be there for about 30 minutes. When I tried to exit the attendant tried to extort the buck from me. I showed him my ticket stamped 2:47 and it was about 3:10. He replied, “I see, but you did not get your ticket stamped at Target.” I replied, call the police because I am not going to pay you. He then quickly motioned for me to get out of there. I think the whole thing is a scam

  40. alesh    Wed Nov 22, 09:14 PM #  

    Taylor~ Point taken. The rates still bug me, though. What’s so fucking special about that sixth hour that it’s worth twice as much as the first five? If your answer is “because the owners of the garage says to” then my answer is “i’ll get my cat food (and everything else) somewhere else.”

    circuit~ i’ll check out the loehmans when it opeans.

    oldswish~ THANK YOU: new official rule!: no need to get validated at Target! Just get surly with the parking lot attendant (and don’t kid yourself- they deserve it!!!)

    No kidding, though, someone get me a little more on this whole “we gave them a 170 million dollar tax break” thing, and i’ll make a real issue of it. Please!

  41. oldswish    Thu Nov 23, 10:18 AM #  

    re: 170 million, read it and weep:


  42. oldswish    Thu Nov 23, 10:22 AM #  

    I stand corrected, they said all along that we would have to pay for parking. So we just gave them 170 million.


  43. WearyEducator    Thu Nov 23, 04:41 PM #  

    Did you NOT read past the first sentence of the article you posted? It makes it very clear that the $170 million PLUS interest will be repaid to the City, County and School Board from the increased property taxes and other income generated by the development PLUS a profit for local government.
    So the community gets to have 55 acres of ugly blight converted into a productive new neighborhood AT NO COST TO THE PUBLIC!

  44. oldswish    Thu Nov 23, 05:17 PM #  

    I have lived in this town since 1963 and can assure you the residents will never see apenny of that money. Trust me, we’ve been down this road before. {Can anybody say Interama?) And BTW i didn’t say that I thought Midtown was a bad project, just question why it has to be done on the taxpayers back. as always.

  45. oldswish    Thu Nov 23, 05:20 PM #  

    Or Miami Arena? Perhaps you should worry about educating yourself instead of others. Perhaps then you wouldn’t be so weary.

  46. WearyEducator    Fri Nov 24, 08:08 AM #  

    Tax increment financing (the term used for this type of funding) was not used in the development of the Miami Arena and Interama was never built so it’s hard to say what MIGHT have happened there.

    In any event, the taxes generated by the new development don’t go to “residents,” but to the city to repay it for the upfront expenditure for necessary infrastructure.

    The process works just fine and the only reason the city wouldn’t recoup its investment would be if the project is a complete flop and the incremental taxes generated are insufficient to retire the bonds. But they have insurance to guard against that possibility so even then, the taxpayers are protected.

  47. a.    Tue Nov 28, 12:22 PM #  

    I’m a recent relocater from LA and I just wanted to add that the West Hollywood Target is nearly identical to this new midtown one. There the parking is free for up to something like 4 hours as long as you validate at the store. And there’s a dedicated validator at the customer service desk. Both are things they should defintely think about here.
    Also, I wondered what was up with the “residential” parking as well. Is there any chance there is some residential above the retail on N. Miami Ave? I thought I noticed some small patios and such..

  48. Angry Taxpayer    Sat Dec 2, 11:17 PM #  

    Midtown Miami was supposed to offer free parking. When Manny “I love concrete” Diaz and Linda “tax and spend” Haskins pressured the Commissioners to approve the $169 Mil they promised free parking. On TV. Haskins said on TV that the parking would be just like “Aventura Mall or Dolphin Mall”. It was only later that the “bait and switch” was uncovered.

    And for everyones information. That site would have gotten developed by someone. Maybe even someone better than the current developer who is trying to bail out for $300 Mil. Our $169 Mil?

    And what happened to the promised “affordable units”?

  49. lint in my pockets cause of Money Diaz    Wed Dec 13, 10:32 PM #  

    The pic of Target is a great pic… I shop at Marshall’s.. it’s called “having to keep a roof over my head” Not all of us can afford to wear Prada and Gucci. Not all of us live on mom and dad’s account and not all of us live in Paris Hilton Fantasy land. Keep thinking like that.. and you’ll soon be shopping at the Goodwill for your outfits. Dadeland Station is FREE to park and not that far away when you take the highway and has the same shitty little stores. I agree a bookstore should be built so that you can all drink your lattes and frapucinos and talk about how the world is so horrible but not get off your asses to do anything about it. Unfortunately, this is what Miami has become, nothing but a bunch of artifical, nose in the air, only worry about it once it happens to them people.

    PS. Happy Holidays… just making sure I’m not insulting anyone…

  50. Angry Taxpayer    Sat Dec 16, 05:30 PM #  

    I like Marshall’s. I shop there as well. There is a Marshall’s on NE 163rd Street surrounded by free parking and there are other Marshall’s around Miami. Also surrounded by free parking. I object to having to pay to park. More importantly I believe all the stores within Midtown Miami will suffer because Manny Diaz demanded that residents must pay to park. These stores will get less customers.

  51. Johnny R    Tue Dec 19, 02:01 PM #  

    Midtown Miami was supposed to be this fantastic development project that would be the catalyst for future development in that area. I agree that the stores coming in bring large crowds which eventually lead to other stores being needed. The parking situation needs to be addressed along with the traffic situation. Midtown Miami is a great project but what happened to all the great architecture and affordable units?? Seems like something fell through the cracks there…

  52. glorenzi    Wed Dec 20, 09:34 AM #  

    i was thinking of investing in midtown miami. any
    comments? It seems like they are selling the condos out. Who buys there? is it a good investment for the first timer, wanted to flip the contract?

  53. alesh    Sat Dec 23, 05:42 PM #  

    yes, glorenzi, that sounds like a great idea. Buy a whole block of them. Quick! ;)

  54. glorenzi    Sun Dec 24, 10:49 AM #  

    i was thinking of investing in midtown miami. any
    comments? It seems like they are selling the condos out. Who buys there? is it a good investment for the first timer, wanted to flip the contract?
    anyone has a real advice?

  55. muzi    Sun Dec 24, 11:03 AM #  

    53.alesh i thought this forum was friendly. why are you being rude? if i had any info i would share!i also interested in this project. i would appriciate any thoughts.