Tuesday April 10, 2007

Miami-Dade commissioners are cooking up a plan for Carnival Center parking. I don’t understand why it’s this difficult to figure out parking for a building that’s essentially surrounded on all four sides by parking lots ready to be built up into garages. Also, examination of the report (.pdf) reveals what a very paper-based and old-school administrative system is our county government.

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  1. PACman    Tue Apr 10, 03:02 PM #  

    Sure, there is a parking need that needs to be addressed, but the last thing a beautiful structure like the Carnival Center needs is to be surrounded by gargantuan parking structures. It diminishes the urban character that is being created in that part of the city and reduces the potential to become a vibrant walkable neighborhood and arts and entertainment district rather than just a place for people to go and leave once an event is over.

    If you’re going to build parking, build it underground or creatively hidden from view like you find in the municipal garages of Miami Beach. Face the parking entrances/exits away from the CCPA so that it doesn’t detract from the center itself. Do put restaurants, theatres, shops, and other places people would be willing to go to before or after a performance across from the center. Otherwise you end up with a pedestrian void like the OMNI garage, which adds nothing to the urbanity of the street it faces.

    Or an even better solution can be sought with better coordination between city, county, and event organizers… Have more police on the streets within a certain-mile radius of the center, and offer free shuttle service to select garages and lots for valid ticketholders. Or even better, provide discounted Metrorail fare for ticketholders and park in one of the Metrorail garages. It’s only $4 to park there, which is much cheaper than any downtown lot, and the Metromover Omni station is not that far from the center.

  2. alesh    Tue Apr 10, 06:37 PM #  


    check out this picture.

    It’s the official rendering of the building that was circulating all during construction, which ALWAYS had that generic garage on the west side. I think that picture is STILL being used.

    I talked a little about the possibility of underground parking when it was first floated, back in 2005, and I’m still skeptical that it could work, though I agree that it’d be more attractive. Personally, I think the parking needs to be cheaper, not more expensive (the current $20 average for self-parking is IMHO a significant drag on ticket sales), and the solution would seem to be a single monster garage, at least around 1,500 spaces.

    Dig my extremely sketchy math: Garages run 350 square feet per car, so for 1,500 cars you need a half a million square feet and change. The lot to the south of the opera house is around 135,000 square feet, so four floors of garage would do ya — or eight, if you wanted to use half the lot for something else (the lot currently contains a couple of abandoned buildings, but most of it was used for the complex of construction trailers and is available now). Let’s say you rent out each space in the lot twice a week (say, a sellout on Saturday night, and the other half partials during the week — assuming you build some nearby retail and pick up some parks during the week, that’s a conservative estimate). 3,000 spaces x $20 × 52 weeks = over three million in the first year. Increase this by 10% per year and by the 10th year you’re close to 50 million. Not bad?

    As for the eyesore factor, keep in mind that parking stories are only 1/2 of regular stories, so even the 8-story version is only 4 “real” floors, which is around 1/2 the height of the Carnival Center’s buildings. The lot to the west of the Center is a bit smaller, but similar idea.

    I think the public transportation ideas are very necessary, but they work in conjunction with plentiful parking, not as a replacement. There are simply too many people who won’t go if they can’t easily park, and as I said, I think that’s part of why ticket sales are low right now.

    Whatever garages get built should be smart, and hopefully adhere to Miami21 codes, which entails they don’t face the street and include ground-level retail, so I agree with you there, too.

  3. Jonathan    Wed Apr 11, 08:06 AM #  

    They should build a new garage the South Florida way:

    -New $1B bond issue.

    -$300M for architecturally daring parking structure that only accommodates half the number of vehicles for which parking is needed. Overruns bring total cost to $600M.

    -What happened to other $400M? Controversy and investigations drag on for years, bringing valuable publicity to Carnival Center.

  4. Tere    Wed Apr 11, 09:47 AM #  

    Well, the lot on the southwest corner of NE 2 Ave and 14 St. belongs to the School Board, and employees park there. There have been talks about striking a deal with the Center for joint-use or something like that since before the Center was even built, but I don’t see a garage going up there. I don’t know where those talks stand, though SB member Greer is pushing to sell off as much Board-owned land as possible to use the money to help teachers buy homes, but that plan calls into question issues such as: where will the 1000+ administration building employees park?

    The lot on the NE corner of same intersection used to belong to the School Board, but they sold it (can’t remember for sure, but it might have been to the FL Grand Opera, who’s planning to build there – don’t quote me on that, though).

    Now, right behind that lot is a parking garage that School Board employees use during the day (it does NOT belong to the Board – that building has a private owner who also owns the garage), which could be an option for Center parking.

    The bottom line, for me, is that this shit should have been figured out BEFORE the PAC was built. How you pour all that money and marketing and planning into a center and not have a solid parking plan is beyond me.

  5. alesh    Wed Apr 11, 11:01 AM #  

    Tere~ Agree 100% with your last paragraph (said so in what I just posted!).

    The rest of it is just the kind of crap why we have these problems. The School Board and Florida Grand Opera are going to stand in the way of fixing this mess? WTF?

    Here’s a solution: Let the School Board build the garage on their site (the SW corner), and make a tidy profit selling parking to CC patrons. School board staff can use the garage during the day, and everyone’s happy!

  6. Tere    Wed Apr 11, 12:08 PM #  

    I think the School Board’s willing to work with the PAC – I haven’t gotten a sense of resistance from them, but doubt they’ll go for a garage if they have to foot the bill. Which, I don’t think they should.

  7. Manola Blablablanik    Wed Apr 11, 12:48 PM #  

    Well indeed it is unfathomable as to why this thing was built without parking … one of the great mysteries of mankind.

    Something should’ve been there with a covered pathway, I think … and perhaps cheaper parking a bit away with a shuttle. But that would be too intelligent, right?

    A parking structure doesn’t have to be fugly if designed nicely. Also, why not include some retail/restaurants on the ground floor or in the perimeter of the structure that would cater to concert goers on their way out or on their way back?

    The potential here is so great. I hope it comes to fruition.

  8. alesh    Wed Apr 11, 01:49 PM #  


    I think Omni Station was something like that — parking plus retail. The problem was that it was hideous, and I think it’s been killed.

    Reality check people — it’s not like parking is a complete disaster. I’ve always been able to park in one of the two lots on the west of the center (one is run by the center, the other is private and so cheaper (though crapily paved), even when I was going to a sold-out show at the concert hall. I think the parking only becomes a real problem when both halls are close to sold out.

    Of course that’s a situation we’d like to one day see twice a week during season, and IMHO the omni garage is too far, so something needs to be done. Just saying it’s not a complete disaster even now. (Actually, I hear valet parking is a complete disaster. But ‘whatever’ to that!)

  9. Manola Blablablanik    Fri Apr 13, 03:20 PM #  

    Alesh, I was thinking more along the lines of the SoBe style parking lots, like the one on West between 9th an 10th — easy on the eyes with nice shops, caf├ęs on the first floor, benches, ample sidewalk, etc;

  10. alesh    Fri Apr 13, 04:48 PM #  

    I know. I wish they’d do that. Just take the same exact design and plop it next to the PAC. All that foliage would look so nice and soft next to the PAC’s angularity.

  11. C Valencia    Sat Apr 14, 11:38 AM #  

    Now we learn the Miami Art Museum wants $400 Mil in taxpayer money to build a 150,000 sq ft museum to house its several dozen very low rent works of “art”. And of course, they want to pave the north side of Bicentennial Park. And quess what? They are not budgeting for parking?

    But they are budgeting $19 Mil to pay for their “consultants”.

    Anyone ready to suggest better locations for a reduced in size Miami Art Museum? Or should they just stay in their current location and try to convince collectors to give them some art?