Miami Downtown Urban Waterfront Panel Report
January 14, 2020
In the summer of 2019, the Miami Downtown Development Authority and the City of Miami engaged ULI to conduct an Advisory Services Panel to provide recommendations on strengthening the Biscayne Bay waterfront as Downtown Miami’s first line of defense against rising seas
In the summer of 2019, the Urban Land Institute was engaged by the Miami Downtown Development Authority and the City of Miami to conduct an Advisory Services Panel to provide recommendations on strengthening the Biscayne Bay waterfront as Downtown Miami’s first line of defense against rising seas, transforming the Miami River into a mixed-use district that bridges the gap between the water and surrounding neighborhoods such as Little Havana and Allapattah, and incentivizing responsible development along an inland ridge of high-lying ground.
During the five-day panel, panelists toured Downtown Miami’s vulnerable areas by land and water and interviewed more than 80 local stakeholders, producing a set of initial recommendations that were unveiled to the public on June 7, 2019 at Miami City Hall. A video recording of the panel’s presentation is available online, as well as the full presentation deck and final report.
This Advisory Services Panel was part of ULI’s Urban Resilience Program, which works to help ULI members, communities and the built environment industries prepare for climate risk and preserve the value created in our cities, considering opportunities in land use planning, real estate, building design and infrastructural investment.
The panel came up with strategic, independent recommendations that take a holistic approach to resilience for the urban waterfront with specific recommendations around waterfront design guidelines, infrastructure finance, community engagement, and leveraging past plans and studies into actions moving forward.
Summary of Recommendations:
- Embrace the legacy of the waterfront through design to protect from water, live with water, and create value from water
- Embrace sensitive transit-oriented development (TOD) along the Miami ridge for future growth
- Update the Downtown Miami Master Plan to bring existing plans and visions together. Act on these strategies and evaluate outcomes on a regular basis to address updates
in relevant forecasts and data and progress made in resilience-related measures
- Refine and adopt proposed design guidelines for the Miami Baywalk, to include resilient design features for a five-mile stretch of shoreline along Biscayne Bay and the Miami River. Extend and apply these guidelines to the Riverwalk, and riverfront with a few additional resources.
- Design and implement a Living Shoreline Demonstration Project along the bayfront that helps build partnership across agencies and the community and allows exploration
of long-term resilience strategies not currently in use both out into the bay and further inland.
- Update zoning and building guidelines to incorporate resilience principles, including adapting the code to meet minimum thresholds for insurance coverage and real estate market demand
- Promote the use of living shorelines across key regulatory agencies at all levels of government – City, County, State and Federal
- Install green infrastructure to reduce flood and heat impacts along the waterfront and in Miami’s urban neighborhoods
Management & Financing
- Create a place-based organization or conservancy to facilitate private investment and management for the urban waterfront
- Build consensus among community stakeholders through demonstration projects, such as creating a living shoreline along the Museum Park waterfront
- Explore resilient financing tools that leverage Downtown Miami’s real estate market, including tools like Transferable Development Density, tax increment financing, and new property taxes that generate dedicated revenue for resilience initiatives
- Develop a long-range, comprehensive master planning document that incorporates resilience as a key element to guide development in Downtown and along the waterfront
- Strengthen community preparedness in vulnerable locations through neighborhood outreach, emergency management, and local partnerships
- Use an expanded transfer of development density (TDD) policy to encourage sensitive development in less floodprone areas and provide capital for existing buildings
to make investments in flood-proofing measures when elevating or demolishing a building is untenable