Plans for Design District pass

Plans include luxury shops, outdoor pedestrian promenade

By Jacey Birch - Anchor/Animal Advocate

MIAMI - The plans to transform the Design District into an upscale retail destination passed the City of Miami's zoning board on Wednesday night.

The proposal includes turning more than a dozen acres into an upscale retail destination. 

Imagine, the high-end, luxury retailers of Bal Harbor Shops combined with the outdoor pedestrian promenade of Lincoln Road. Together you have the future plans for a newly designed Design District. 

Two public plazas will anchor the 30-foot wide pedestrian mall filled with sidewalk cafes, luxury shopping, boutique department stores, and even rooftop green spaces to add a little suburban spruce to the urban area within the five blocks from 38th to 42nd Street between Northeast 1st and 2nd Avenue.

"The area needs it. Close to downtown, you got the [American Airlines] Arena, you got the Performing Arts Center," Javier Ojeda said. "They did a great job with Midtown, so they need to spice this place up a little bit."

The plan comes at a price of more than $300 million, paid for by the developer to cover demolition, renovation, and half a million square feet of new construction, which includes adding a hotel and residential units to the currently commercial-only area. 

It's progressive development for an area that has been faltering financially.

"I'd like the project to be successful, and make sure its going to work out for everyone in the district who have been suffering for many years because nothing has been happening," Axel Cretinon, of Pampaloni Silversmiths, said.

Miami's Design District boomed well before the explosion of Midtown and Wynwood, and if approved, this revival may be on the map by 2015.

Developer Craig Robins hopes the expansion will provide more than 1,200 new jobs to the area. 

He was in Paris Wednesday meeting with the owners of many of the luxury retailers ready to sell their fashionable wares in the new Design District. 

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