Modernizing Midtown: From Rail Yard to Vibrant Urban District

Modernizing Midtown: From Rail Yard to Vibrant Urban District

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MIAMI, FL (2006) – Railroad tracks, abandoned warehouses, overgrown grass, and chain link fences. For most people, it would be hard to see past such conditions and envision a vibrant neighborhood comprised of loft-style condominiums, trendy restaurants, art galleries, and designer stores. Fortunately, Biscayne Development Partners, LLC and the City of Miami did, and the initial concept for Midtown Miami was born.

Originally known as Buena Vista Yards, the development project consists of 56 acres of vacant land formerly owned by the Florida East Coast Railway, which used the property as a storage yard for freight containers in the maritime transport of goods. In 2002, the land was purchased by Biscayne Development Partners, LLC, a joint venture between Midtown Equities and Samuel & Company.

That same year, City of Miami and Miami-Dade County began funding improvement projects that included street paving, gutters and sidewalks, water and sewer lines, drainage systems, landscaping, and irrigation. The City of Miami Community Development District and Diversified Development Realty commissioned Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. to design the neighborhood’s new and improved streetscapes. Brazilian landscape architect Bruno Carvalho of Kimley-Horn states, “I was inspired by some of Europe’s most modern cities, as well as the clean lines of Miami’s sleek skyline.” In an effort to maintain this aesthetic throughout the neighborhood, Kimley-Horn hired Main Street Engineering – an MLS Group company – as the electrical and lighting infrastructure consultant. Carvalho worked with Municipal Lighting Systems, another MLS Group Company, and William Pino, P.E. from Main Street Engineering to design unique poles and fixtures specific to Midtown Miami. German-based Hess America was selected to manufacture the designs, which consist of two different schemes.

The first scheme is a series of pedestrian-scale indirect illumination units that result in a highly pleasing, uniform, energy-efficient and environmentally friendly lighting system. The second scheme, intended for high quality street-lighting, is comprised of a combination of cut-off arm-mounted luminaires on taller poles with pedestrian scale post-top luminaires. In addition to providing safety for vehicles and pedestrians, the lighting system helps unify Midtown Miami’s new identity.

Today, Midtown Miami has become one of the city’s most pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, as well as the new home of the world famous “Art Basel” event each November. With an ever-increasing number of restaurants and shops, it is the destination for foodies, trend-setters, artists, designers, and young families alike.

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