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Miami Beach Garages [Large, Image-laden post...Broadband Recommended]

ablarc

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MIAMI BEACH GARAGES

Miami Beach is a pretty good little city: dense and walkable with continuous street walls.
Pretty much nobody uses public transportation, yet there are almost no parking lots. This is because in Miami Beach they really know how to do garages:



Sometimes they make them look like other buildings in the area that are not garages, and sometimes they adopt different strategies, but always they have the sense to continue the eye-level streetscape with retail. Can you spot the garage?:




Oh, there it is:









Sometimes a different strategy comes into play. Here’s a row of shops at the base of a verdant mountainside:



Wait a minute! There aren’t any mountains in Florida! What the…?!



Well, I’ll be…! It’s a parking deck disguised as a mountain!









Here’s how it looks at street level:











Around the corner, where the entrance lurks:







The view from inside the garage:







By code, garages must have perimeters that are 50% open to avoid expensive mechanical ventilation. Fortunately, the code official does not regard greenery as an obstruction. Plants in Florida do not lose their leaves; this solution would not work in most U.S. climates.

Here’s a newer garage with the plants just getting started. You can imagine how this will look in a year or two:









Parking in Miami Beach is a municipal utility; the city charges the same in these garages as at the ubiquitous curbside parking meters (25 cents for 15 minutes). You use one of the garages if you can’t find a space on the street or if you want to park for more than the curbside limit of two hours. Only three parking lots survive, charging a higher and uncompetitive rate (subject to negotiation) for the convenience of not having to drive inside a gloomy garage. These will soon disappear; and when they are redeveloped, the city will again be complete and restored. Until that happy moment, they provide the same wretched dosage of urban blight that is yielded by all parking lots:





Even in Miami Beach it took a while to catch on to how to do a proper garage. Here is an older example that tries valiantly with its architecture while failing urbanistically. This example is hamstrung by its suburban ideology: note the preposterous little front lawn and of course the single-use zoning. No ground floor shops here:



Even further back, they were naïve enough to think you can screen a garage with trees. Touching optimism:



And the final aberration of old-timey modernism—parking garage as sculptural form:

 

BKM

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Very interesting photo essay, ablarc. I, too hate parking lots in town centers.

Of course, in an affluent, tourist market like Miami Beach with the disposable income for Hermes boutiques, developers can AFFORD parking garages.

We are always told "we can't afford to build such a garage, as the rents don't justify the expense." Unless the City itself prohibits surface parking lots and provides garages as a public utility, how many towns, especially outside core markets or wealthy enclaves, can afford to go totally to structured parking.

We can only hope.
 

teshadoh

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I can imagine it - while thousands of hot beautiful people are walking around, you're taking pictures of parking decks ;). But you're right, the parking decks almost seamlessly merge with the block. And I too had to take several double takes to realize that there isn't a mountain in Miami Beach.
 

BKM

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teshadoh said:
I can imagine it - while thousands of hot beautiful people are walking around, you're taking pictures of parking decks ;). But you're right, the parking decks almost seamlessly merge with the block. And I too had to take several double takes to realize that there isn't a mountain in Miami Beach.
I can just read the Miami Beach police log: "Man seen wandering around town mumbling to himself about urbanism while ignoring our supermodels and photographing parking garages. Sent S.W.A.T. team immediately."
 

ablarc

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BKM, the model photos come later, after I sort my Miami Beach photos into some kind of coherence.
 

Gedunker

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ablarc , good to see you again (seems it's been a while), and especially now that I have a fast connection.

It is an inspiration to see a city take on the blight of surface parking and make it work as well as Miami Beach. I think it doesn't matter that the economy is based on tourism (it is a bigger part of the economy in many places than people acknowledge). What is important is honoring the urban fabric and the all-important "street wall" -- and you can not accomplish that with a surface lot.

Keep up the posts -- I really enjoy them.
 

Zoning Goddess

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Ablarc, great pics as always (and a couple of real fashion faux pas caught on film).

How do you get around so much??
 

BKM

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ablarc said:
BKM, the model photos come later, after I sort my Miami Beach photos into some kind of coherence.
Cool! Since I'm sure your Clint avatar reflects your real appearance :), we're sure they were flocking around you!
 

H

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I have parked in those garages!! But the real parking "deal" is around the corner a fraction of the cost and much closer to the good part of the beach. I would tell you, but then I would have to.... well, maybe I would PM someone if they wanted to know, but if I post it, I might lose my space. :)

Nice pics. Did you spend any time in the across the bay in the city? There are all kinds of cool urbanism projects going on.
 
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ablarc great job in capturing the parking structures which are unique to the beach. I like the progress made from the earlier structures to the ones built in the last 5 tears. Miami Beach is currently running out of room and the parking situation is only going to get worse. They try to form a public/private partnership for the development of new parking garages. The next one to be built will be on Alton and 5th- Big Box retail will be coming to South Beach- I have heard of Bed, Bath, And Beyond, Best Buy, and our third Publix. Of course it will include a parking structure on top of the stores. Should be 4 or 5 Stories.
 

plannerkat

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On a side note, the Essex House Hotel shown in the first few pics is one of my favorite places to stay in South Beach. Beautiful building, great location, and very reasonably priced. And we park our car in that garage when we stay there.
 

jresta

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on the topic of parking garages and affordability i'm a fan of the PILOPS system -
Payment In Lieu Of Parking Spaces

There's a parking fund that developers can pay into instead of building parking spaces. It's sort of like paying for a density bonus. The developer gets to build more or bigger units and the municipality takes on the responsibility of parking.

At least this way a comprehensive parking/downtown circulation plan becomes a necessity.
 

mendelman

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Nice photo essay!

I like the design of the parking garages you show and their intergration with the streetscape. I also agree that surface parking lots are an urban cancer and should be banned. I walk around Chicago and see surface lots in the absolute best locations for something other than surface parking.

I also have a slightly less intense disdain for single-use parking garages occupying prime real estate in downtowns. I know of at least one 12-story parking garage in Chicago's Loop. Can that really be the best use for the property? It's certainly better than a surface lot, but, geesh, we really are too phsycologically/economically tied to private auto use.

I don't go the Loop very often anyways. It's not terribly comfortable as a place, so I mainly stay in my neighborhood, which is urban-super-comfy(new planning jargon? ;-) )

Edit: I'm with jresta on this one. If we, as municipalities, are going to mandate minimum parking reqs., we should take some initative to provide efficient parking facilities ourselves. If I was a developer, I would definitely take advantage of a "fee in lieu" program. Then the fees to the muni. could accumulate across many developers and economies of scale could help off-set (hopefully) the higher costs of parking garages.
 

GeogPlanner

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Design is important in garages as well. These did not appear to be imposing on the surrounding environments and curb cuts were limited and concentrated. For some odd reason, we can't do that in the northeast too well. And we tend to build them big instead of frequent.
 

boilerplater

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Rampant Growth

I believe I took pics of that garage from the backside when I went to Miami Beach in '01 and it wasn't so covered. It's amazing how fast and lush plants grow in south Florida. I wonder if developers in the northeast would have the patience for the time it would take to cover a parking deck with plantings. Its hard enough just getting them to spring for a few potted plants!

I saw a landscape architect from Berlin speak at a seminar on green roofs in January, and he mentioned that surface parking is no longer allowed in the city. I'm assuming he meant the denser parts of the city. From his slides, it looked like they've made real strides towards eliminating the streetscape blight of parking lots.

The older deck with the palms looks like the trees were put in recently, judging from the bracing at the bases. They install rather large trees there commonly.
 

passdoubt

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Gedunker said:
It is an inspiration to see a city take on the blight of surface parking and make it work as well as Miami Beach. I think it doesn't matter that the economy is based on tourism (it is a bigger part of the economy in many places than people acknowledge). What is important is honoring the urban fabric and the all-important "street wall" -- and you can not accomplish that with a surface lot.
I think it is very important to note that Miami Beach is a fashionista's tourist trap because, on a slightly lesser scale, we have the same situation we do in Carmel-By-the-Sea, where Monterey is the 'real' town. Miami Beach can only afford to create this urban utopia because it's fake and has the money to build this kind of stuff. Most of Miami-Dade is sprawly as hell and the middle class residential subdivisions where 90% of the people call their home is arguably, the "real" Miami. Miami Beach is beautiful but it's not an example of a real solution.
 

ablarc

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passdoubt said:
I think it is very important to note that Miami Beach is a fashionista's tourist trap because, on a slightly lesser scale, we have the same situation we do in Carmel-By-the-Sea, where Monterey is the 'real' town. Miami Beach can only afford to create this urban utopia because it's fake and has the money to build this kind of stuff. Most of Miami-Dade is sprawly as hell and the middle class residential subdivisions where 90% of the people call their home is arguably, the "real" Miami. Miami Beach is beautiful but it's not an example of a real solution.
passdoubt, what exactly are you saying?
 

H

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passdoubt said:
Most of Miami-Dade is sprawly as hell and the middle class residential subdivisions where 90% of the people call their home is arguably, the "real" Miami.
Middle class sprawl, yes thus making the city and the beach very different places without competition to be the the "real" Miami. I personally prefer the bayside south of the city because there are walking paths, parks, sailing, and resturants on the water. But I still think MB has very unique attributes worth praise and recognition as this thread does.

:)
 

boilerplater

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What is "real"?

I think it is very important to note that Miami Beach is a fashionista's tourist trap because, on a slightly lesser scale, we have the same situation we do in Carmel-By-the-Sea, where Monterey is the 'real' town. Miami Beach can only afford to create this urban utopia because it's fake and has the money to build this kind of stuff. Most of Miami-Dade is sprawly as hell and the middle class residential subdivisions where 90% of the people call their home is arguably, the "real" Miami. Miami Beach is beautiful but it's not an example of a real solution.
Dude, I always look at ablarc's posts because I think he has a good eye and he photographs pretty much the same things I'd take pics of if I went to these places. I have no interst in seeing the sprawly residential subdivisions that you consider the "real" places. I'm interested in learning from, and emulating, beautiful places. Who the hell wants to aspire to mediocrity. If the money isn't available to build these kind of places, then maybe our society's priorities are not in order. Maybe we spend too much on highways and missiles and tanks, and not enough on creating highly livable places where people want to stay and don't just see as a location of real estate commodity to move from when the time is right.

Ah, that felt good. Nothing like a monday morning rant to get the blood flowing.
 
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