Commissioner Juan Zapata Invites Families and Residents to Participate in a Unique Opportunity to Shape the Future of Kendall Drive and West Kendall

As Commissioner and resident of West Kendall, I have noticed how traffic seems to never subside on Kendall Drive. I began noticing the traffic patterns and questioning nearby residents on why they think traffic is so heavy at night and on the weekends. I concluded that poor urban planning has created an accumulation of residential neighborhoods lacking the amenities that families need and want to enjoy in their leisure time.

Also, during this time, I noticed that on Friday nights and weekend mornings, thousands of West Kendall residents get into their cars and head east, as they do every other morning. This time, instead of going to work, West Kendall residents want to go to higher-end shopping malls like Dadeland Mall, the Falls or Merrick Park Village. They head to the beach, a water park, an amusement park, a movie theater, a museum, or a nice restaurant, none of which are available in the West Kendall area. In short, Kendall Drive is an uninviting and frankly, unattractive corridor, lined with your typical strip malls and big box stores. It is, for the most part, a corridor to move traffic east and not a pleasant destination. West Kendall residents cannot enjoy a day of fun activities or a fine dining experience and a relaxing walk anywhere in West Kendall, they have to drive east and out of West Kendall for entertainment.

With this in mind, and in hopes of changing this issue, I think it is important for the West Kendall residents, business owners and stakeholders in the community to share their own vision, ideas, needs and desires for their own community and look at the feasibility of reversing the poor planning through development incentives and proper urban planning criteria to turn Kendall Drive and West Kendall into a desirable destination instead of a six lane road to carry traffic and potential business out of Kendall. With the right tools and planning we can develop a core downtown Kendall with higher-end restaurants, quality shopping experiences with upscale retailers, wholesome affordable amusement activities that families with young children can enjoy.

We can also plan for sidewalk cafes, like in Coral Gables and Fort Lauderdale, where residents can enjoy a variety of restaurants and take a walk with something pleasant to look at. Or sports bars, where West Kendall residents can gather with friends to enjoy a Miami Dolphins football game, a Miami Heat playoff game, and a professional soccer match close to home and avoiding drinking and driving.

Can we recreate West Kendall to create a sense of architectural aesthetic cohesion? Can we re-design West Kendall with beautiful landscaping, attractive signage, lighting and other design elements? In summary, if we had a chance for a do-over. If we could draft a plan to serve as a blue print for developing the undeveloped or vacant land along the Kendall Drive in the future, as well as a plan for re-developing the poorly designed existing commercial properties to serve the needs of the community and create a vibrant, viable and flourishing commercial corridor for everyone, why not do it?

As the Commissioner for the area, I am providing all residents, homeowners, families, business owners, developers, urban planners, students and interested persons with a forum, the tools, the stakeholders and the opportunity to shape their future community. A charrette is an intensive planning session where residents, designers and others collaborate on a vision for development. It provides a forum for ideas and offers the unique advantage of giving immediate feedback to the designers and the community. More importantly, it allows everyone who participates to be a mutual author of the plan. March 1st will be your opportunity for public service in a charrette process where you can say, years from now, “I am responsible for turning around West Kendall and helping create the beautiful community you see here today.” The design team works together to produce a set of finished documents that address all aspects of design, including zoning laws to implement the vision. Please bring your children as they will also enjoy participating in the process and oftentimes provide us with a unique and invaluable perspective. Refreshments will be served

What: Kendall Drive Charrette

When: Saturday, March 1, 2014 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm

Where: Felix Varela Senior High
15255 SW 96th St,
Miami, FL 33196

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