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Miami hopes to revive urban living

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Orlando Sentinel - 1/2/04

The city's attempt to lure people back to its core could hold lessons for similar efforts in Orlando.

Miami hopes to revive urban living

MIAMI -- Today, maybe 400 people live in downtown Miami's central business district, which bustles by day with the suit-and-tie crowd strolling to offices and shoppers browsing jewelry shops and electronic and discount stores.

By night, the workers and shoppers leave, turning the downtown core into a dead zone dotted with vacant parking lots. But fast forward to Miami's near future, and more than 12,000 people will call the area home.

As Orlando launches an ambitious redevelopment of its downtown, a glimpse of what the future may hold is just 250 miles down the road in Miami, albeit on a much larger scale.

Florida's most cosmopolitan city is experiencing an urban renaissance, putting it several years ahead of Orlando in luring back the essential ingredient for creating an inviting place to live: people.

In downtown Miami, residents will live in sleek towers rising at the mouth of the Miami River, in converted apartments in some of the city's oldest office buildings or lofts with open floor plans and concrete floors, all within walking distance of movie theaters, museums, concerts, Miami Heat games and waterfront parks.

Head north, past the $255 million performing-arts center under construction on Biscayne Boulevard, and nearly as many new residents will enjoy bay or city views from towers whose names evoke the edgy, artistic direction of this long-blighted uptown neighborhood: Blue. Platinum. Sky. Ice. Quantum.

Head south to Brickell Avenue, and the future already is bursting from the ground amid the banks and office towers in Miami's financial district. In just the four blocks near the new, 70-story Four Seasons Hotel & Tower, the tallest residential building in the Southeast, construction cranes herald the emergence of 2,500 new apartment or condo units.

Billions in construction

More than $1.8 billion worth of high-rises, midrises, apartments and lofts are under construction in the four-mile stretch encompassing downtown, the financial district and the Biscayne Boulevard corridor. At least $2.5 billion more is in the pipeline, with many plans including sidewalk caf

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