Miami Beach’s best kept secret
By: Matis N. Cohen
In 1853, a group of visionary landowners pushed for the creation of New York’s Central Park, understanding that urban living sat at the crossroads of live, work, and play. They knew that a Central Park would act as a utopia in which all of New York’s socioeconomic and demographic classes could convene and enjoy nature and culture as equals.
Today, we have a similar opportunity in North Beach. While the developed South Beach has historically received the City of Miami Beach’s attention, a combination of new legislation for re-development and public funds could finally make the creation of a North Beach Central Park a reality. With several key components already in place, NoBe Central Park will become the cultural, recreational core of the surrounding 14 neighborhoods that call North Beach home. The good news? Creating this exciting recreational destination is simply a matter of rebranding and re-targeting our efforts around an existing rich landscape.
Strategically situated in-between local historic districts, modest housing, luxury beach towers and million-dollar private homes; an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse population; and flush with new and old opportunities to eat, drink, and play in scores of culinary destinations and public parks, North Beach has finally becoming the unique beachside destination that our city has envisioned over the last four decades.
The recreational heart of the neighborhood – where you can find the perfect beach, indoor basketball courts, baseball fields, tennis courts & club, volleyball courts, kayak launches, a lively senior center, and the only Miami Beach amphitheater – are all lined up from the beachfront to the Intracoastal Waterway between 72nd and 73rd Street.
Plans are currently underway to expand and significantly enhance the area as a recreational and cultural destination. A four acre-surface parking lot sandwiched between the Bandshell and the tennis courts & club will soon be converted into a Competition Aquatic center, with a new innovation center, library, and public parking garage. All this and the additional green space will make this an active and passive Central Park – local residents and visitors alike can experience the park’s many amenities, protected year round with tree-lined streets.
While each of the above amenities are currently frequented by locals, this recreational city center lacks a unified approach. Notably, in 1940, this park was named “Surfside Park,” and acted as the recreational core of the city. However, since then, no less than ten names have been used to identify this 30+ acre park. Each amenity has its own moniker and programming, and these institutions communicate through separate branches of government. When events are planned, multiple addresses and institutional names confuse would-be patrons and negatively affect attendance. They end up competing for attention as opposed to leveraging shared interests.
If the City of Miami Beach were to approach this recreational strip of land as a neighborhood cornerstone – uniting each of its recreational and cultural parts into a single NoBe Central Park – the City would increase accessibility while bolstering the area’s image of an urban lifestyle destination. Branding the area as NoBe Central Park – as well as assigning a dedicated staff committee and enlisting operations mangers and property owners to cross-promote, engage with, and program daily activities – would create a more approachable experience while generating a cohesive message in line with the city’s stated goals for North Beach.
Unifying each of these recreational amenities as a single destination known as NoBe Central Park would additionally enhance public perception as a one-stop destination for culture, recreation, and leisure. Eager to catch a concert? Head to NoBe Central Park. Looking to swim a few lapser jump into the ocean? Try NoBe Central Park. Want to hit a couple balls, do some reading, or just take a lovely shaded walk with your family? You can do it all at NoBe Central Park.
North Beach currently has an opportunity to chart a course for a sustainable, inclusive, and prosperous urban lifestyle. Creating a NoBe Central Park is a crucial first step.
As deeply invested residents of our community, it’s critical that city officials work closely with stakeholders and the current successful amenity operators to bring the NoBe Central Park to life. Creating a recreational urban core that’s teeming with opportunities to consume culture, enjoy nature, and connect with our neighbors is a well-charted path to the ultimate in urban living on the beach. We need to urge our city leaders to integrate North Beach’s greatest assets into one can’t-miss attraction, ensuring our continued prosperity for generations to come.