Wednesday January 3, 2007



I love me a little digital rendering in the morning. Click for extra mega-sized, with vividly obvious seams between reality and CG. These buildings, under construction on the north side of the Miami River, are modestly titled “Epic.” Prices are about what you’d expect: $500,000 – $5,000,000 per unit. Like all with-it people, places, and things, Epic has both a website and a MySpace. Both are worth visiting, for more spectacular photography.

Seriously, though, this is a primo spot — downtown Miami, surrounded by water on two sides, in the middle of real-city action.

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  1. skipvancel    Wed Jan 3, 08:45 AM #  

    This building breaks my heart. The spot is primo and the leaders of our city should have worked hard to keep it open space. Alas, our “Green Mayor” didn’t have the balls to talk to his friends (the developers of this project and those around it) to see if we could have kept it as open space, which is what it was until the Dupont was built there in 1957.
    I must say, the glut of condos on and coming to the market will decide the ultimate fate of this project, which doesn’t look good. Hopefully the developer’s children will enjoy the legacy their parents wrought.

  2. dreaming    Wed Jan 3, 09:24 AM #  

    im not sure what you mean by ‘real-city action.’ i lve on brickell key across from this project and moved here four months ago. i have yet to see any real-city action, unless you mean the bums congregating at the downtown library, which isnt bad inside except that someone has removed all comfortable chairs so the bums wont linger and sleep in them. downtown miami, to me, is a hopper-esque nightmare of bleakness. there is nothing at street level except downscale import and electronics stores selling to god-knows-who. and oh yes, the ‘diamond district.’ i cannot imagine this awful place ever becoming anything like a real city no matter how many sterile condo towers go up.

  3. alesh    Wed Jan 3, 11:14 AM #  

    Um, sorry. I was trying to be tongue-in-cheek. Not sure about the park, though — there’s a couple of parks down the street. I think the Miami Circle land should be turned into some sort of park, personally. Two more obesrvations:

    1. Brickell IS very different then downtown. For me, at least, just going over the river is a big difference in feel. ymmv.

    2. You’d better believe that when the condos are done the feel of downtown is going to change. Thousands of rich urbanites in walking (and metromover) distance? I’d think you’ll see all kinds of restaurants and retail. Then we’ll complain about the grungy good old days.

  4. that guy    Wed Jan 3, 12:30 PM #  

    Oooh more condos. Big fucking deal.

  5. dreaming    Wed Jan 3, 12:58 PM #  

    well i hope you are right that the new condos will bring new life. however, there are quite a few new condo buildings already open to no discernible effect, i.e., neovertika, one miami, brickell on the river, jade, downtown lofts, club at brickell, emerald, solaris and sail.

    and of course, lower brickell has been lined with condos supposedly filled with upscale residents since the late 70s and 80s. yet, i see nothing except a few dogwalkeers emanating from these 20- and 30-year-old towers. there isnt one restaurant or club or store catering to those thousands anywhere down there that i can see, unless you count novocento, pashas and the brewery, i guess. and tobacco road and the adjacent few restaurants and the rather sterile pf changs complex at the half open mary brickell village.

    the other side of the carnival center has cite and any number of newer and older condos as well. yet biscayane blvd north of downtown is a dusty wasteland, too. no public transit either except that absurd peoplemover w armed guards and shutting down at midnight just when it might be useful to get to or from a bar.

    maybe miami is 5-10 years away from critical mass, but, then, a lot of places like to think that about themselves….

  6. Jonathan    Wed Jan 3, 02:01 PM #  

    -Brickell is a lot better than it used to be. The shopping and other neighborhood amenities are displaced to Coral Way and 2nd Ave., which is why they aren’t immediately obvious. And there are several reasons why there aren’t any nightclubs and other such stylish establishments on Brickell: 1) zoning, 2) parking and 3) the people who live in the area mostly work a lot and don’t hang out in clubs. Brickell is essentially a suburban neighborhood, with some office buildings and bisected by a major thoroughfare.

    -Downtown is actually an interesting area. IMO most of the problems are caused, not by developers per se, but by boneheaded municipal attempts to make Miami a “world class” city by encouraging the building of sports and arts colossuses that break up useful space and remove foot traffic except during scheduled events. There is also a perception, which may be justified, of too much crime. Maybe the area will improve as more people live there.

  7. alesh    Wed Jan 3, 04:44 PM #  


    good points. I guess it’s exactly what you’re talking about — i’m not so familiar with the neighborhood, but I remember stumbling on a wonderful wooded little pedestrian area a block or two west of Biscayne in brickell, with a number of interesting restaurants, trees, sidewalks, and an interesting looking mall that was about to open. Not too bad. And the area around the towers is relatively pedestrian friendly; all it really needs is street-level retail and some trees. Throw in a streetcar, and it would look like a city in Europe. Some of the people that live there might very well go weeks without getting in a car.

    North of Downtown is really starting from zero. I suspect that good crosswalks are in the works for the redo of Biscayne down there; the spiffy designs on the new sidewalks on the east side indicate so. That’ll make access to Bayside a pedestrian possibility, which is a start, I guess.

    It hasn’t hit critical mass yet, but I think it’ll take less then 5 years.


    Exactly. Possibly related is Wakefield’s Welcome to Beautiful Downtown Miami from a couple of months ago.

  8. Jonathan    Wed Jan 3, 08:01 PM #  

    Thanks for the link to the Wakefield piece. I was thinking more in terms of grandiose projects that do more harm than good, but poor project management by the City is obviously also a big issue.

  9. alesh    Wed Jan 3, 08:56 PM #  

    The notable thing about d/t to me is that shit shuts down very hardcore at 5 pm on weekdays. Last I checked, even the starbucks was 9-5 m-f and CLOSED sat and sun!! The one right next to the art museum! So, that’s the sort of thing that will change very quickly when people are living there. Obviously the residential stuff is starting on the outskirts of downtown; we’ll see how far it goes, tho I suspect that as far as it’s gotten so far is as far as it’ll get for awhile, since the current wave of building is OVER for anyone with half a brain. But I count four or five BIG towers on the west side of Biscayne between AAArena and 395. That’s a critical mass which will attract all sorts of stuff to the neighborhood. Mark my word – there’s a very vibrant pedestrian zone on those blocks in under 5 years.

  10. Alex    Wed Jan 3, 11:05 PM #  

    The only rational way to go in Miami is up. I would gladly trade a house down in Kendall and the conmute for a condo downtown and urban life. Alesh is right, there will be significant activity once all the residential towers are finished. The retail infrastructure is already gearing up: Midtown, the Mary Brickell shops development, there are other two planned around the PAC. Farther north there’s also a revitalization of sorts with all the shops lining the east side of Biscayne right after the Omni. So there’s movement already and more coming up.

  11. Jonathan    Wed Jan 3, 11:07 PM #  

    That would be good. More people means less crime and more business, followed by even more people. Only time will tell if it will happen anytime soon. The real-estate downturn doesn’t help.

  12. John Ahlers    Fri Jan 5, 11:07 AM #  

    I’d disagree that North of downtown is starting from zero. Have you been to the “Upper East Side” (I know, what a f*ckin joke) recently? The area from 62 to 79th on Biscayne is in an upsurge, with cool shops, boutiques, and restaurants. I don’t live up there anymore, but I definetly enjoyed it.

  13. Manola Blablablanik    Fri Jan 5, 11:40 AM #  

    I find the Epic & Met buildings to be overwhelming from an architectural perspective. In that particular spot, the scale is dwarfing and claustrophobic for those who have to pass by. On a public community level, I think that accomodating an open park space around the bend and down the river would have been great with a mirror park on the other side by the Circle, but of course that would never fly with someone to stand making money off that tiny sliver of land. It’s just an architectural pet peeve of mine when private buildings are built practically on the water instead of being set back just enough so that everyone enjoys the natural aesthetics of the city. However, in spite of all this, I’m all for Downtown revitalization and I’m looking forward to it, so I also hope that the urbanization of the area makes it happen.

  14. alesh    Fri Jan 5, 02:21 PM #  

    Alex~ Right.

    John~ Oh, sorry, I sort of meant just the stretch between downtown and 395.

    Manola~ I agree. I don’t mind huge buildings but loosing the public riverwalk is a shame. Miami21 calls for a pedestrian zone along the bay, we’ll see if that ever happens.