As we mentioned in our prior article, the latest development project making its way through City Hall is a proposed seven story hotel with zero on-site parking owned by Terranova Corp.
Gables Miracle Mile, LLC., located at 220 Miracle Mile, has plans to redevelop the existing two-story commercial/office building fronting Miracle Mile with a 120-unit hotel with 16,000 square feet of ground floor retail and approximately 11,000 square feet of upper floors commercial.
Traffic has been a hotly contested issue every election for the past decade. The number of vehicles that use Coral Gables as a cut-through City grows every day.
Although, one may not normally see a hotel as a large contributor to traffic, however, at the October 22nd Commission meeting, Dr. Gordon Sokoloff, Chairman of the City’s Transportation Advisory Board voiced several concerns relating to the potential traffic impact of the project.
The board is made up of residents who are appointed by City Commissioners and its role is to advise the City Commission on traffic. The Board voted unanimously against the project.
- UBER, LYFT & TAXIS: 220 Miracle Mile will rely strictly on Uber, Lyft and taxi services to provide transportation to its residents. These vehicles are forced to park or circle the block waiting for customers. Gables Insider recently reported on the issue with Uber and Lyft and their drivers loitering in the Cocoplum circle. However, the city paid David Plummer and Associates to conduct a study on the project, and their assessment was that “since the project will generate less than 50 net (two-way) vehicle trips during the am and pm peak hours, we are requesting that the project be exempt from conducting a Traffic Impact Study.” Sokoloff explained that in his opinion, “These reports call for the suspension of reason and common sense. Who, in their right mind, can convince anyone here that a seven story hotel with massive retail and a hotel lobby on the ground floor, three restaurants, and six floors of 120 hotel rooms, – and all of the employees, – will generate LESS traffic than the two story building that currently exists?”
- LOCATION: The location of the hotel is located in what is deemed to be the busiest intersection in the City. According to Sokoloff, “The proposed hotel, as presently designed, will WORSEN traffic at this intersection and beyond, affecting VOLUME, SPEEDS and TRAFFIC PATTERNS.”
- OVERFLOW: The current plan proposes for valets to be available to move vehicles quickly through the alley and keep traffic flowing. However, Sokoloff believes this plan to be, “unrealistic. The alley is a public right-of-way. The developer should have his own driveway, – very much like The Mayfair Hotel or Architectonica’s project in Coconut Grove. Perhaps a lobby on the second floor of this hotel would be more suitable, – and therefore allow for a much larger area for the hotel guests to unload, check-in, stop for any reason without needing to turn their keys over to a valet.
- THE CHEESECAKE FACTORY: As previously reported by Gables Insider, the Cheesecake Factory is preparing to open its doors at 2418 Ponce de Leon Boulevard, the former location of Bricktops and the property directly behind 220 Miracle Mile. Sokoloff explained that Cheesecake Factory is, “a highly popular restaurant that will be the direct neighbor behind this hotel and right alongside the hotel’s proposed entry-way. This restaurant also has NO PARKING, however people picking up food, picking up passengers, Uber Eats, Grub-Hub, and other delivery vehicles will be sharing this alley and only make this a more congested area. While one may argue that there is the adjacent, smaller alley directly behind Cheesecake Factory, – I doubt that ALL drivers for Cheesecake Factory will inherently know where their cars should be.”
Sokoloff took the opportunity to appeal to Commissioners as well, “Our Board is unanimously against this project as its being presented today, – and as it was presented to the Planning and Zoning Board. The alleyway is a public right of way and it’s unviable and completely wrong to allow a developer utilize a City-owned public right-of-way as his own personal driveway for his private hotel. OUR BOARD is made up of your appointees. We are citizens that represent members of the outer Community. As Chairman of the Transportation Advisory Board, – I am not here to fight City Hall. I consider myself a part of City Hall. The hours upon hours that citizens put into these Boards, – we would like to think that we’re relevant. That our voices count, – otherwise, why did you appoint us? We represent the Citizens that voted you into office. Yes, – you are considering a proposal from a developer, – but it’s important to all of us that you remember that the residents comes first.”
It should be noted that the Transportation Advisory Board does not regularly opine on commercial projects. It’s scope is currently to review projects that affect residential neighborhoods.