‘West End’ identity key to future West Kendall growth

Establishing a “West End” identity for Miami-Dade County’s District 11 was emphasized by Eduardo Marrero, community engagement and communications aide to Commissioner Juan C. Zapata during a Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting at Miami-Dade Police Hammocks District headquarters on Sept. 30.

As defined by Zapata, the “West End” is bounded by Florida’s Turnpike west to Krome (SW 177th) Avenue between SW Eighth and SW 152nd streets, populated by 213,839 or 8.6 percent of the county’s total, equivalent to the 100th largest city in the nation and seventh largest in Florida.

That would make the West End larger than Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Gainesville or Tallahassee or more populous nationwide than Birmingham, AL; Spokane, WA; Fayetteville, NC; Tacoma. WA. or Akron, OH.

West End growth has far exceeded surrounding areas, Marrero pointed out, gaining at a 20.4 percent rate from 2000 to 2010. Other key West End factors include the high proportion of family households (83 percent); highest percentage among all county districts of homeowners 72.7 percent, and average wage and median household income, $59,611 or 38 percent above county ($43,100) and national ($53,046) averages.

“We want to put a face on the West End, much like other well-known Miami-Dade neighborhoods,” Marrero explained, noting worldwide familiarity with names like Calle Ocho, Sobe and Miracle Mile.

“A clear and positive brand identity can provide a clear competitive edge for county areas that seek funding and other investments,” he said. Reviewing the Zapata “West End Strategy” plan compiled by FIU earlier this year, major areas to create a West End identity included:
• Branding District and neighborhood identities;
•Creating immediate employment opportunities;
• Re-connecting neighborhood areas;
• Developing transportation capabilities and policies, and
• Re-thinking new and future development.

Identity also can be accomplished through streetscape and landscape improvements, signage at corridor and district street entrances and an expanded programs of social, cultural and artistic events, he said.

Zapata already has moved ahead in several areas, including incorporation studies, generating Miami Executive Airport as a new employment center, extending SR 836 expressway into West Kendall, developing connectivity plans with biking and pedestrian trails between existing parks and planning long-term land use and zoning enhancement of the Kendall Drive (SW 88th Street) Corridor.

The FIU report concluded that the West End as an innovation district may be “one of the best potential areas in the county for incubating new workplaces with high-wage and high-skilled business firms.

Details of the branding and identity program are available online at www.miami-dade.gov/district11/library/west-end-strategy.pdf.

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