South Dade Busway Study FAU/FIU Joint Center for Environmental
and Urban Problems
South Miami-Dade County can
A livable community where people have more choices
in transportation, housing, jobs, shopping, neighborhood services, and recreational
A region whose residents enjoy a better quality
of life. A place with a sense of community- "where everyone knows your name."
Transit-oriented, new development takes advantage
of the South Dade Busway.
More attractive to employers because of its convenient
location and skilled work force.
A source of economic development opportunities.
Criss-crossed by amenities like greenways, parks,
sidewalks, and bikelanes.
A magnet for tourists and visitors who enjoy the
area's attractions and simply spending time in a quality environment.
More energy-efficient and planned for people as
well as cars.
A collection of distinct neighborhoods that look
different from each other.
A model of mixed-use development, with shops,
offices, and homes in the same building.
Protected by the use of design standards to ensure
Surrounded by agricultural, environmentally sensitive,
and national park lands that are protected from development.
How can South Dade be all
By taking advantage of the South Dade Busway as
it is extended from the Cutler Ridge Mall to S.W. 344 Street (Palm Drive) in Florida
By coordinating the location of homes, businesses,
shops, and parks with the Busway so people will be able to walk to the bus, park
their cars conveniently, and wait comfortably and safely for the bus. And, while
they are walking to the bus, they can patronize businesses along the way: coffee
shops, newsstands, daycare centers, drycleane r s , a n d m a n y o t h e r s .
Neighborhood services like these will also be close to restaurants, hotels, and
attractions that serve visitors and tourists. Existing attractions like Cauley Square
and Bargaintown will be near bus stops for easy access.
By concentrating new development near the bus
stops and along U.S. 1, so that homes, jobs, and services are close together. This
permits residents to choose whether they will walk, ride bicycles, or drive. When
several adjacent developments are planned at the same time, everything a community
needs can be coordinated: homes, streets, sidewalks, parking, parks, businesses,
shops, and other uses.
By designing new development and redeveloped areas
to be attractive and functional. Design standards are prepared by a professional
and reflect thewishes of the community.
By encouraging more innovative types of development,
such as mixed-use buildings and parcels. Mixed use simply means that, for example,
apartments or offices are built above a row of shops. A more attractive and easy-to-use
community will encourage new businesses and other new development. More development
means more jobs and more economic opportunity.
The purpose of the South Dade U.S. 1 Corridor
Project is to coordinate nearby land uses with the Busway. The most effective way
of meeting this purpose is by encouraging two types of development in the U.S. 1
corridor: community urban centers (CUC) and the highway corridor. The latter - the
highway corridor - is defined as those portions of the corridor in between the community
Community urban centers are places where higher intensity development will be encouraged,
and where people can use the bus, walk, bicycle, or drive. A bus stop on the South
Dade Busway will be the central feature of each community urban center and will
be surrounded by a mix of shops, businesses, residences, open space, and civic uses.
Each community urban center will be about one-quarter mile in radius, measured from
the bus stop. The precise boundaries and land uses will be chosen by the community
during a community planning process.
Each community urban center is expected to have a different character, or "flavor,"
that will be identified and featured during the community planning process. The
four community urban center locations, as shown on the map in the center of this
1. Goulds, at S.W. 216 Street
2. Princeton, at S.W. 248 Street
3. Naranja, at S.W. 264 Street
4. Naranja Lakes, at S.W. 280 Street
These four sites were chosen initially because they had a major cross street, were
a center of community activity (or had the potential to be), and had vacant land
where additional land uses might be planned to enhance those already located in
the CUC. The community urban centers are described in and their locations given
the Comprehensive Development Master Plan .
The Planning Process
Beginning in 1995, representatives of the South
Dade community developed a vision and a set of goals to help the project fulfill
that vision. The vision is: a livable community where people have more choices in
transportation, housing, jobs, shopping, neighborhood services, and recreational
Together, the Joint Center and the Work Group determined which bus stops would be
the best ones for community urban centers.We discussed density,mixing uses, economic
development in South Dade, the impact of Hurricane Andrew, zoning ordinances, the
Busway, and many other subjects. Each topic affected the plans for the corridor
and the urban centers.
The community urban center (CUC) zoning ordinance became the focus of this joint
planning effort. This ordinance would govern development in each of the four CUCs.
To identify certain features of each CUC, residents, property owners, business people,
and other interested parties would be given the opportunity to participate in a
community planning process. The resulting community plan would identify the boundaries
of the CUC, any special features, the type of development the community desired,
and any land uses that needed to be added to those already present. Both the plan
and the ordinance will be adopted by the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners
in the same manner as other zoning ordinances.
The community urban center ordinance also needs to work in tandem with the type
of regulation chosen for the highway corridor area-the area in between the CUCs.
As in the CUCs, the most important consideration in the highway corridor is making
the areas transit-oriented.
The Department of Planning & Zoning will address the desired types of development
in the highway corridor as soon as staff have finished working on the community
plans for the four CUCs.
How Will The South Dade Community
Benefit from the Urban Center & Corridor Design
By creating the community urban centers, with
their mixed uses, pedestrian-friendly atmosphere, and functional arrangement of
homes, shops, offices, schools, parks, and other uses around the bus stops, the
Busway will be more attractive to riders.
By making the area more attractive, new businesses
will be drawn to the area-new businesses bring new jobs.
By incorporating park-and-ride and kiss-and-ride
facilities into the urban center design, more people will be willing and able to
use the bus.
By making the bus more responsive to the public,
households that use the bus may be able to save money on automobile costs.
Children, teenagers, and the elderly-anyone who
cannot drive- will have more options.
A community urban center becomes a focal point
for the community; it gives people a place to get together, to visit with friends
and neighbors, and to patronize local businesses. These activities contribute to
a sense of place, of community.
When development is focused on the urban centers
and the highway corridor in between, there will be less pressure to develop agricultural,
environmentally sensitive, and national park lands.
1. The FAU/FIU Joint Center for Environmental
and Urban Problemsan applied research center within the Florida state university
system-whose staff is involved in research and community planning projects throughout
South Florida and beyond.
2. The South Dade Planning and Design Work Group-organized in 1995, whose members
are residents, property owners, and business people, as well as representatives
of neighborhood associations, civic groups, and business associations in South Dade.
There are also several technical members-representatives of those county and state
agencies that will be involved in planning, permitting, and regulating development
in the South Dade area. The Work Group brought the ideas and opinions of area stakeholders
to the project, while the Joint Center brought the professional expertise to translate
these ideas into a plan and implementation strategy. The Joint Center project team
appreciates the input of the Work Group and could not have succeeded without them.
3. The Miami-Dade County Department of Planning & Zoning- involved since the
beginning of the South Dade project because the department will be responsible for
planning, permitting, and regulating development in the project area once the Joint
Center's work is complete.
4. The Miami-Dade County Office of C o m m u n i t y a n d E c o n o m i c Development,
the Miami-Dade Transit Agency, and the Florida Department of Transportation have
also been essential participants in the South Dade project.
5. The South Dade community. Since the beginning, the Joint Center project team
has recognized that community involvement is a vital part of the planning process;
input from residents, property owners, business people, and others gives the project
team an understanding of the conditions in the area that can only come from those
who live and work there. Community representatives also play a valuable role in
disseminating information back to the community. To facilitate this dissemination
of information, the Joint Center has made presentations to and worked with numerous
Transit and public transportation in South Florida
often translate into images of isolated bus shelters on the edge of a parking lot
or lone benches on the side of a busy highway. Instead, picture a bus stop in front
of a store on a traditional mainstreet. A few people are sitting on the bench while
a passerby stops at a nearby kiosk to buy a newspaper.
Doors to retail shops open and close as shoppers run errands. When the bus pulls
up, riders step down onto the sidewalk and have a choice of several establishments
to patronize. Those riders waiting on the bench have only a few steps to board the
bus, some with bags of merchandise purchased at a store nearby. The difference between
the bleak lone bench located at the edge of the parking lot and the lively bus stop
is something called (TOD).
Transit-oriented development places offices, shops, homes, and schools within walking
distance of each other in such a way that many people find it easier to take the
bus or to walk than to drive. TOD provides safer, more inviting places to wait for
the bus- places that are open, well lit, and full of people that live or work close
Transit-oriented development has much in common with traditional towns that were
built before families relied on automobiles for all their transportation needs.
Cars require a lot of space: think of the miles of asphalt needed for roads and
the expanses of pavement that make up parking lots. All of this pavement creates
a challenge for people who walk across these asphalt deserts between buildings.
These expanses are discouraging to walkers and are expensive to build and maintain.
When cars were less prevalent, it was more important to provide good places for
people to walk-otherwise the shopping districts would not survive. In transit-oriented
development, sidewalks are wider, buildings are closer to the street and to each
other, trees or awnings shade people walking
by, parking is placed conveniently behind buildings, and blocks are shorter, allowing
the pedestrian to take the shortest possible route.
This type of design creates places that people can drive, take the bus, or just
walk to. Not everyone may want to live here, but many will enjoy the freedom of
not having to depend on a car for every transportation need. Less reliance on the
automobile may also save a household money that could be spent on another worthwhile
item. transit-oriented development
Goulds: The First Community
The Goulds community had been involved in the
South Dade project since the beginning and development was planned or about to occur
in several places. When the Joint Center was ready to test the community urban center
zoning ordinance by applying it to one of the urban centers, Goulds was ready to
be that urban center. The Joint Center, along with Robert Barnes & Associates
(serving as design consultant), worked with the Goulds community to prepare a community
plan, based on the street types and design parameters in the ordinance.
Several members of the community, as well as representatives of the various county
agencies, served on the community's steering committee. In consultation with the
steering committee, we selected March 1999 as the date for the Community Urban Center
Charrette. Because residents were already familiar with the charrette concept and
their community urban center, they were very supportive. Following the actual design
session, many Goulds residents attended the presentation of the results and expressed
satisfaction with the results. The Goulds community continues to support the development
of the community urban center according to the plan.
It is essential that any businesses that become a part of the community urban center
thrive and be successful in the long term. To determine what types of business would
be most successful in the CUC, the Goulds Community Development Corporation has
hired a consultant to prepare a market feasibility study. When the consultant's
report is complete, the CDC will call another community-wide meeting to present
the results and to discuss any changes in the community plan that may be necessary.
The Miami-Dade County Department of Planning &
Zoning is working with the two chambers of commerce to conduct a planning process
for the second community urban center: Naranja, at S.W. 264 Street. This process
is expected to take place later this year.
Following the Naranja community plan and as soon as funds are available, the county
will conduct community planning processes for the Princeton community urban center,
at S.W. 248 Street, and for the Naranja Lakes community urban center, at S.W. 280
What can residents and business
people do to promote development of the U.S. 1 Corridor, especially in Community
In order to fulfill the vision and goals identified
by the South Dade community, additional economic development in the U.S. 1 corridor
is essential. At this time, there is little new investment taking place; the economy
is stagnant. To encourage economic development and thereby promote physical development
in the U.S. 1 corridor area, a number of obstacles must be overcome:
Lack of a strong market to encourage investment. The area is caught in a vicious
circle trying to attract more middle-income residents without sufficient job opportunities
and commercial, recreational, and other amenities. Yet, without this employee/consumer
base, prospective employers offering well-paying jobs will not be attracted to the
Lack of attractive market rate housing in combination with a significant amount
of poorly maintained low income housing.
Lack of aggressive marketing for the regional vision, which would counteract many
of the current misconceptions of south Miami-Dade County.
Inadequate or outdated infrastructure. Some work is beginning, but investors, developers,
and the community need a better understanding of what improvementswill be made and
Inappropriate land development codes. The county is beginning an overhaul of its
zoning code and will then need to address all related regulations. The new codes
should encourage appropriate types of development in support of the regional vision.
Neighborhood resistance to change. Some area residents have chosen to live in south
Miami-Dade County because of its rural nature. Adding higher density urban centers
and other development must be done with great sensitivity.
Government relations and lengthy review/permitting processes. Even though some streamlining
of these processes has taken place, county government is still perceived as obstructionist
and the processes as too arbitrary, too lengthy, and too uncertain in outcome.
Public school disparities. Schools in older areas are often perceived as less desirable
than those in new neighborhoods. Overcrowding and poor student performance are serious
problems throughout South Florida. Solving these problems is beyond the scope of
the U.S. 1 Corridor Project, but their negative impact on successful development
within the corridor should not be underestimated.
Perception of crime and lack of code enforcement. Statistics available from the
police show that the perception of crime is greater than its actual occurrence.
However, crime is an issue and is being addressed by the police department. Code
enforcement has been a problem, but recent efforts to bolster the program are showing
Not only do these obstacles need to be overcome to attract development, but also
incentives must be offered to offset the advantages developers have when they develop
large, vacant sites on the suburban fringe. These incentives may include public
ones (e.g., improved services, tax abatement) and public investment (e.g., parks,
landscaping, cultural centers); business and developer incentives (e.g., streamlined
processing, special assistance); and community involvement.
The Future of the U.S. 1 Corridor
Development of the U.S. 1 corridor is expected
to take place over a number of years, possibly several decades. As businesses identify
a market for their goods and services, they will decide to locate in one of the
urban centers or in the highway corridor areas. As developers identify a market
for housing, they will build apartments, condominiums, or detached houses to fill
that demand. At the same time, parks, sidewalks, streets, and the other amenities
identified in the community urban center planwill be built and maintained.
Efforts are underway to create an area with a compact, urban form that encourages
transit use, pedestrians, and bicycles as alternatives to the car, and that will
make the area more attractive to those who will use these forms of transportation.
An area that features a variety of housing types and prices will be attractive to
a larger number of potential residents and employers. As the population of Miami-Dade
County increases over the next 20 years, many new residents will settle in the south
part of the county because the northern and western sections of the county are now
One of the major issues in the southern part of Miami-Dade County is the location
of potential development. Much of the land in this area is either agricultural,
environmentally sensitive, or included in either the Biscayne or Everglades National
Parks. Thus, encouraging development in the U.S. 1 corridor, the historic spine
of development in the area, is a sensible approach. Development near U.S. 1 will
join development now occurring in Homestead and Florida City to bring more jobs,
businesses, services, and market-rate housing to south Miami- Dade County.
Two activities now underway in south Miami-Dade County are expected to have an impact
on the U.S. 1 corridor: the redevelopment of Homestead Air Reserve Base and the
Empowerment Zone(EZ) designation.
Homestead Air Reserve Base was scheduled for closure within several months when
Hurricane Andrew closed it overnight. The resulting economic disruption and population
displacement is still felt in south Miami-Dade County. Attempts to redevelop the
base have been stalled by the need to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact
Statement ( ; until it is complete and the community sees what impacts the SEIS
results will have on potential development, it is difficult to determine what could
be built on the base. Some development has taken place, but the major uses remain
Major development is expected to bring businesses and jobs to the area. Employers
and employees of these new businesses will be looking for housing and services,
such as shopping and recreation. This influx of new residents and workers will be
a real economic "shot in the arm" for the area.
Another unresolved, Base-related issue is the railroad spur that connected the Florida
East Coast railroad to the Base. While the railroad company owned the main line
outright, the land on which the spur runs was leased by the federal government from
the property owners at the time the Base opened. Information provided to the Joint
Center by the federal agency responsible for Base closure indicates that the spur
property will revert to the property owners now that it is no longer being used
as a railroad. Members of the Work Group have suggested that it would be appropriate
to construct a leg of the Busway in the spur, to connect the main Busway to the
Base. The county will need to determine if the spur can be used for an extension
of the Busway.
In 1999, Miami-Dade County was awarded an Empowerment Zone designation by the federal
government. Parts of Homestead and Florida City have been included in the Zone,
while much of the rest of south Miami-Dade expects to benefit indirectly from the
designation. At this time, the funding for the EZ is pending the resolution of a
disagreement over the exclusion of another area of the county. As soon as the project
moves forward, the benefits of designation will begin to be felt throughout south
Miami-Dade County. Even though the Joint Center expects to continue its involvement
in South Dade, the community needs a means to market the area and monitor future
development in the community urban centers and the corridor areas in between.
Joint Center staff considered several different types of oversight group: community
redevelopment agencies, neighborhood improvement districts, community development
districts, enterprise zone development agencies, community development corporations,
not-for-profit corporations, homeowners associations, condominium associations,
business improvement districts, and community land trusts.We also considered the
role Miami-Dade County's community councils play in planning and zoning decisions.
The choice of oversight group will be made by the community during the planning
process for each community urban center.