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West Kendall "Traditional Neighborhood"development

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http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/...st/10447088.htm

WEST KENDALL

Commons plan moves forward, but mall opposed

The waiting may be over for developers of the Kendall Commons neighborhood development, but the Kendall Town Center shopping mall faces legal hurdles.

BY JOSELLE GALIS-MENENDEZ

[email protected]

Two large projects that could define the future look of West Kendall are heading in different directions.

One, the Kendall Commons ''traditional neighborhood'' development -- which features a school, a church and town square, single-family homes and town houses -- is on the verge of becoming a reality. Developers said dirt would start moving in March.

The other, the Kendall Town Center, the much-publicized mall that would include a mega-theater and a westward extension of Baptist Hospital, is tangled up in a legal battle. And no one knows how long that could last.

Kendall Village Associates and an area resident are trying to stop the mall, saying the developer ignored the impact the project would have on the area.

As for the delayed Kendall Commons project, ground is scheduled to be broken in January along Southwest 167th Avenue, between Kendall Drive and Southwest 96th Street. The long-awaited and much debated development was first scheduled to begin rising from West Kendall soil back in 2003.

But spring came and went -- and the date was changed to summer 2004.

''There was just a miscalculation,'' said Alex Fernandez, a spokesman for developers Jose Boschetti and Martin Caparros, who bought the project from original developer Michael Cease.

''The reason the project has taken so long to get approved is the complexity of the development and because it's the first of its kind in the area,'' said Caparros, president of Prestige Builders Group.

The ''traditional neighborhood'' development, a concept that once pitted nearby residents against the developers, is intended to be a community within a community.

The 160-acre plan bugged neighbors, who argued that the area was already too congested.

But in 2003, many residents were appeased by a covenant that spelled out guidelines for everything from density to setbacks and parking.

While construction workers should soon start work on Kendall Commons, lawyers may be the biggest feature of the Kendall Town Center for a while.

The development by the Rouse Company, which was recently sold to General Growth Properties in November, will include a mall, a Muvico theater and the long-awaited extension of Baptist Hospital.

It had just cleared the county finish line when Kendall Village Associates, including partner Jeff Berkowitz and resident Valentin Fisher, stepped up to challenge it.

Rouse officials said they were confident the project was moving along with the support of the community.

Company Vice President Edward Ely said Kendall residents are behind the project because of the 300-bed Baptist hospital and promises Rouse has made to help with traffic in the area.

But Berkowitz said Rouse convinced the county that installing a bus stop with 28 parking spaces excused the firm from its responsibility to make sure the development didn't overwhelm the area.

Berkowitz said he had a special interest in the area because his shopping center at Kendall Drive and Southwest 124th Avenue is slated to open its own movie theater in January.

''They're talking about building a mega-regional theater that will draw people from all over Dade County immediately past our property without any analysis of how the traffic will impact the area,'' said Berkowitz.

He also said Rouse used five-year-old traffic data and only studied morning and afternoon rush hours, when theaters are empty.

But Rouse and Miami-Dade County -- also named in the suit -- have already filed a motion to dismiss some of the accusations.

''We are confidant in our position on these charges,'' Ely said.

The delay is already rankling some.

''I am upset and dismayed that this is being appealed,'' said West Kendall Community Council member Patrick Fiore. ``We need the entire shopping center for economic reasons, but delaying the hospital is putting people's lives at risk.''

Jo Baxter, a Baptist Health spokewoman, said the appeal hasn't slowed things down.

''We are moving forward with our design plans and are looking at about three years before we are ready to open,'' Baxter said.

Baxter also said Baptist plans to continue to keep neighbors informed.

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I'm really interested in what Kendall Commons will look like.....what does a "traditional community" look like and what will the "town center", and townhomes look like?...Looks like this project is going forward though

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Well I imagine it will be much like other new urbanist developments like Celebration (which has a church, townhomes, towncenter, and school) or Baldwin Park, Windsor, etc. None are as good at Celebration IMO, but they have deep pockets.

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