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Posted on Thu, Feb. 17, 2005


UM plans a 'model' village

The University of Miami hopes to develop an old-fashioned, pedestrian-oriented village of homes next to Miami Metrozoo as an alternative to car-choked suburban sprawl.


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The University of Miami, venturing into real estate development for the first time, is aiming for something a lot more ambitious than a cookie-cutter subdivision: It wants to create an antidote to suburban sprawl amid a rare pine forest in South Miami-Dade County.

Though far from finalized, the university's proposal envisions an old-fashioned, walkable village of up to 1,200 small homes clustered around a new public kindergarten through 12th grade school and a new public library, parks and neighborhood shops.

UM officials say the project would serve as a model for what suburban development in Miami-Dade could be -- smart, not wasteful, ecologically friendly and civic-minded.

The village's compact plan and small lots would make efficient use of land and encourage strolling, UM officials say. Kids could walk to school and recreation, and parents could forgo use of their automobiles for many daily activities -- from basic shopping to working out at the gym, from seeing a doctor at a UM-run medical clinic to attending courses.

UM officials hope it will also nurture a close sense of community missing in many conventional subdivisions.

''It would not be the typical suburb where residents leave in the morning, come back at night and close the door or close the gate, and that's it,'' said UM provost Luis Glaser.

The village, dubbed the South Campus, would occupy much of a large, mostly unused property the university has owned for years on Coral Reef Drive by the entrance to Miami Metrozoo.

About 45 acres, roughly a third of the property, would be set aside as a pine forest preserve.

The dwellings -- likely a combination of town homes and small, detached houses -- would be sold to the general public at ''affordable'' prices, UM said.

The proposal, which is under review by state and local planning agencies, must clear several substantial hurdles, including concerns about traffic impact on already congested Coral Reef Drive and the development's compatibility with the endangered pine lands, which planners call ``the most significant upland natural habitat in Miami-Dade County outside of Everglades National Park.''


UM officials say the issues are manageable.

''It will be a real model,'' said Michael Katz, president of MAMCO, a nonprofit subsidiary the university formed to oversee off-campus development projects. ``We're not in this to maximize density and bleed it and leave.''

The South Campus project is the largest of several planned off-campus development ventures by UM, Katz said.

The university would plow any profits from the ventures, which also include construction of luxury homes for faculty in Pinecrest, back into the institution.

The village plan would follow the New Urbanist planning principles espoused by UM's architecture dean, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and her architect husband, Andr

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^Some of the places that developers were allowed to get away with building are maddening... in some places it seems like they built at the bottom of a lakebed... if you go along certain thoroughfares like Kendall Drive, especially in the far west, you'll see that the street is sometimes higher than the surrounding development.

I moved to South Florida from San Francisco and when I see some of the things that developers get away with here, I am shocked! The ultimate example, that I know of, where you see the road way higher than the development is at about 137th Ave and Kendall Drive. There's a Publix shopping center on the South side of Kendall Drive there and if anyone has seen this, you know what I'm talking about. To exit that shopping center and get onto Kendall Drive feels like you're climbing Mount Everest; the street is WAY higher than the shopping center parking lot. Not a good idea for a flood prone city to build this way, I don't think.
Ill explain this one since I have lived in Kendall my whole life. Around the late 1980's Kendall drive was completely shut down in order ot make expansions and imporvements to the street. When this was completed the street was much higher than it used ot be because the old Kendall Drive used to flood. The idea here was if there were to be a flood people could leave on the street. Had the street level not been raised the street would flood along with the housing. Put simply the publix came first and then Kendall Drive. The original height of pre 90's Kendall drive was the same as the publix, The kmart and the home depot a little bit down the ways.

Here's the infamous Publix entrance for the record. :)


this part of Kendall Drive in West Kendall has concrete retaining walls on its shoulders. I am standing in the parking lot as I take this picture, and the road is three feet higher than where I'm standing.


And then here's from the road itself, with the parking lot below:


In new construction in low-lying areas (basically anything lower than 8 feet) they're required to bring in extra fill to raise buildings. This shopping center could not be built today on this site without it. This area is probably 5 feet above sea level. There are tons of places throughout the county like this, before these rules were implemented. Where possible, a lot of the roads have been raised to 8 feet, and all expressways are at a minimum 1 foot above the surrounding grade, sometimes higher.

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Thanks for adding those pics, now people will know what I was talking about. This West Kendall board is a good addition. West Kendall may not have much more room for growth, but on what very little room there is, they are either building already or have plans to build.

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And then here's from the road itself, with the parking lot below:

Its usually pretty tough to see the difference between Kendall Drive and a parking lot :D

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