Contributed By: Curbed
Strolling through the western side of Downtown Miami (the area between I-95 and Miami Ave), can be quite a disheartening experience. When you envision the center of a city as well known as ours, you picture dense streets full of people and activity, especially in the immediate vicinity of the biggest station (Government Center Station) in the city’s public mass transit rail system! The reality, however, is that this part of Downtown is far from resembling a major urban center at all; endless blocks of fenced in parking lots and decrepit faceless buildings make up a very desolate landscape, but with the new passenger rail train hub being built by All Aboard Florida, often called Miami’s “Grand Central Station”, that’s all about to change.
A quick glance at a map of the land use around Government Center Station, put together by Matthew Toro at miamigeographic.com, reveals the immediate area around the station mainly consists of parking lots and institutional buildings (mainly courthouses); lacking any substantial residential, commercial, or office land use. It is hard to fathom that some of the best connected land in our city is practically abandoned. (as it also is at multiple other Metrorail stations, mostly to the north) The area in need of improvement is vast and it would take a combination of several projects to significantly alter the current landscape. Fortunately, that is precisely what is brewing here. An explosion of change is impending and it will transform this part of Downtown forever.
At the epicenter of it all, is All Aboard Florida’s Miami Grand Central Station. This massive elevated station will sit on various blocks of parking lots between the Metrorail tracks and NW 1st Ave, connecting to Government Center station. Apart from a 21st century terminal for trains travelling from Miami to Orlando, the station plan includes thousands of square feet of retail and office space. There have also been talks of consolidating a Miami-Dade Transit bus depot into the plan in exchange for county land adjacent to the project expanding the station’s already enormous footprint.