Monday May 2, 2005

Your New Watson Island

Island Gardens Critical Miami is happy about all the stuff going up in Downtown. And we’re cool with the building in Wynwood. But we’re totally grouchy about what’s going on with Watson Island. A few happy years ago, it was an eccentric little radar blip on the way to Miami Beach. Those who pulled off 395 were rewarded by a squirrelly little bait shop, an amazing fish market, a heli-tour pad, and a generally cool hang-out area.

Today we have the crap-tacular reinvention of Parrot Jungle, the supposedly great but unfinished-seeming Children’s Museum, and . . . the helicopter tours are still there! But wait – it’s not for long. The City of Miami Department of Economic Development has more crap in the pipeline for Watson Island: I give you Island Gardens (pictured)! What might this be? What did our fearless leaders pick to round out the Parrot/Kid Museum trio? What did they deem would best round out the character of the island? Ah, of course: condominium towers and a big shopping mall.

Would this be a problem if they were just taking a place with interesting character and overdeveloping it with generic “attractions”? Well, actually yes; but what’s annoying is how these things are all doomed to failure. Parrot Jungle is in the red, and according to an article (horrible registration required (bugmenot link) )in the Herald today, has not much prospect of meeting visitor expectations. The fact that a kitschy “attraction” like this is more successful in a tucked-away tropical setting then next to a highway in the city center should have been predictable. Not sure how the Children’s Museum is doing, but based on daily drive-by analysis of their parking lot, not great. Is a shopping mall going to save this chazzerai? Keep in mind that Bayside is right over the bridge.

Who knows, maybe it’ll be great. City of the future, and all of that. But we’re going to miss the old Watson Island. Heck, we already do.

comments powered by Disqus
  1. Miami Harold    Mon May 9, 09:10 PM #  

    On the edge of it all, there’s Ichimura, newly re-opened Japanese meditation garden directly east of PJ.

    Seated quietly within its confines, one can almost self-transport away from the chaos that piles up on all sides.

    aaah, so.