Friday, May 30, 2008

I Think The Planners Got It Right This Time

A few years ago North Miami's main drag had steadily detiorated for four decades, ever since the business community had decided that the wave of the future was the shopping mall. As the years passed the new mall a few miles to the north became run down and this down town area was boorderline slum. The mall got a complete rebuild, but that didn't save it from desertion to an even newer fancier mall a few miles up the road.

Finally the city planners seemed to get it right. They finally realized that there wsas no way they were going to entice major deparment stores and chain retailers back to a traditional downtown. It just ain't gonna happen! The building owners were encouraged to redo the facades and adopt a uniform color palette. New brick sidewalks and and nice street lighting fixtures werre installed. Awnings were allowed over the sidewalks and coffee shops allowed to put tables and chairs out front on the sidewalk. Instead of hasseling "hippie" types of businesses coffee shops and small independent boutiques were encouraged. Art galleries and antique shops are flourishing. All the kinds of places that don't want to be in a mall.

North Miami has reduced the cost of buisiness licenses for arts connected places and simplified the pernitting process. One night each month they have Jazz at MOCA, live music in the plaza in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art.

These folks just bought some coffee at Starbucks, located in the building behind them, as they wait for the music to start. Another coffee house is the Luna Star Cafe across the street where Alexis Sanfeld will also make you a sandwich or sell you a beer or glass of wine. They both show works by local artists and photographers and have live music a few nights a week. Planning works if it's done right!

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