Civic Leaders with their own plans for Museum Park don’t want to see their vision for the public space pushed aside by David Beckham’s private soccer stadium plan.
Several community and business leaders to include Howard Kaplan of the Kaplan Group and former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz have spent months crafting a vision for Museum Park. “This was going to be our way of giving back to the community,” said Kaplan.
Years ago plans for the waterfront and green space adjacent to Miami’s new art and science museums were bold and beautiful. Dubbed a “Public Square for Downtown Miami” the vision was to transform former Bicentennial Park into Miami’s version of Millennium Park in Chicago; but public funds were drastically scaled back amidst a budget crisis.
“It looked like we were going to be in a Great Recession for many, many years to come,” explained Kaplan, “so the city basically pulled back on making a world class park.”
For more than a year Kaplan said a group of South Florida families, business leaders, developers and architects have been working on a multi-million dollar private plan to revitalize the park.
The rendering was created by renowned Miami-based architect Chad Oppenheim.
They include a performance barge, pavilions, garden restaurant and waterfront amphitheater which incorporates the boat slip site. “Use the water where you could create a floating stage where people could actually come in by boat, children’s play areas, areas where you can have sculpture.” Kaplan said the vision for the public space also incorporates a great lawn for picnics and areas where the community could enjoy live theater and community events.
“We’ve been working behind closed doors trying to put this together and put a group together. We haven’t made anything public yet, but now as we are trying to go ahead and make something really wonderful happen we see somebody throwing in an idea of filling in the waterfront and taking it away from the public, I just don’t understand it.”
That would be Miami Beckham United’s plan for a soccer stadium on public property that would fill-in the boat slip walling off the public’s waterfront view from street view and encroach on at least 4 acres of Museum Park. Beckham’s team said green space would be gained by developing land behind the American Airlines Arena in park space.
“That is ludicrous,” Kaplan said of Miami Beckham United’s proposal, “because a park feeds from the public out. If all of a sudden you start blocking it, you build a park behind a concrete wall that you have to somehow get around to it; it loses the whole idea of having openness. I honestly don’t understand why you would want to lose this incredible asset that we have, that the people of Miami deserve to have.”
“There are a lot of families that I’ve spoke to who that have said I am ready to step-up. This is something worth leaving a legacy and really doing something wonderful and I think you are going to see more and more people step out on this and that is wonderful.”
“We have people who really love this city and this is one of the few things that you really can create a legacy, a central hub if you will for Miami, for the city to come together and explore arts and culture and just the environment. Our biggest assets are the weather and the water so to take that away from the people of Miami, that’s the wrong legacy leave. The legacy you want to leave is really giving something that will remain and flourish.”