Prominent architects and urban planners who worked with former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz's administration have joined the opposition to building David Beckham's Major League Soccer stadium on the downtown waterfront.
In a statement Wednesday, the five people -- including the person who created Museum Park's master plan -- said city commissioners should reject filling the Florida East Coast Railway slip to build a stadium. Diaz, who was mayor when the city approved unpopular public financing for the Miami Marlins' Little Havana ballpark, came out against the idea last week.
"It is not in harmony with the vision of Miami as a world class city with parks and open areas available for all, for generations to come," the statement says. "We must protect the legacy envisioned by the people of Miami."
The statement was signed by Alexander Cooper, the master plan creator; Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, the former University of Miami School of Architecture dean who helped write the city's Miami 21 zoning code; Victor Dover, who worked on the Museum Park charrettes and Southeast Overtown/Park West CRA plans; David Dixon, who helped draft the city's parks and open space master plan; and Ana Gelabert-Sánchez, the city's former planning director under Diaz.
The architects and planners note that a lengthy public process went into designing Museum Park specifically to keep out a baseball stadium, at the time discussed for the Marlins. "Allowing a private venture to take over the last remaining waterfront site in Downtown Miami for use as a stadium reduces quality open space, obstructs public views of the waterfront and disrupts waterfront recreational uses," the statement says.
Beckham's soccer proposal, suggested by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, would require filling the FEC and encroaching on a portion of Museum Park. The newly filled water basin would create additional waterfront park land and connect Museum Park to the property behind AmericanAirlines Arena known as Parcel B, which has long been promised as a park but has never been opened to the public.
4:06 p.m. update: Beckham's real-estate adviser, John Alschuler, responded Wednesday afternoon with a statement calling the opposition from Diaz and the others "disappointing" and noting Diaz's support of Marlins Park, which was approved without a public referendum. A stadium on the slip would be subject to city voters, Miami leaders have said.
"A new soccer park in downtown will appeal to Miami's diverse community, bring the world's greatest game to one of its greatest cities, and create jobs and opportunities for local businesses," Alschuler said.
"It’s disappointing that former Mayor Diaz and his supporters are choosing a disconnected waterfront over a continuous bay walk; a polluted, man-made mega yacht marina over more green space for the public; and a lifeless waterfront over an iconic soccer venue that draws residents and visitors to a downtown that they have worked so long to improve."
From the architects and planners:
Museum Park - Miami’s Waterfront Vision
During the past 14 years, we were honored to work with the citizens of Miami in planning their future. At the start of a new century, Miamians took a step back for the sake of their future, to control their destiny and to realize a collective vision for a city that is built and designed around people, offering them great shared spaces of civic pride. We were and continue to be proud of having been a part of such a historic planning effort.
Through hundreds of public meetings and multiple City Commission public hearings and approvals, the citizens of Miami helped craft a vision to implement the Museum Park charrettes, Museum Park Master Plan, Parks and Public Spaces Master Plan, and Miami 21. Regrettably, notwithstanding this people-driven planning process, a proposal to build a soccer stadium on the site of Museum Park is currently being considered.
We would like to express our strong opposition to this proposal for the same reasons that a comparable proposal to build a baseball stadium in Museum Park was rejected in 2000. Multiple public citizen’s workshops, including some of the most heavily attended public meetings in Miami history, were held to gather input from the public. The citizens’ consensus was clear: to preserve the area as green space with two museums, to maintain public access to the waterfront, to provide unobstructed views from Biscayne Boulevard toward the Bay for people of all social and economic backgrounds, and to preserve the FEC Slip as a waterfront recreational area with a bay walk and a place where boats could tie up and enjoy a waterfront park.
The City Commission passed a unanimous resolution reflecting the public intent to renew the area known as Bicentennial Park and create a “premier public park” for the citizens of Miami. The resolution sought to preserve the last remaining access to our waterfront in the downtown area for public use. Based on extensive public input, the Museum Park Master Plan was created and unanimously adopted by the Commission in 2008. Development based on this plan continues with the construction of the Frost Museum of Science, the Perez Art Museum and Museum Park.
Allowing a private venture to take over the last remaining waterfront site in Downtown Miami for use as a stadium reduces quality open space, obstructs public views of the waterfront and disrupts waterfront recreational uses. It also radically changes the vision of a 21st Century premier public park that the citizens of Miami deserve.
This proposal should be rejected. It is not in harmony with the vision of Miami as a world class city with parks and open areas available for all, for generations to come. We must protect the legacy envisioned by the people of Miami.
Alexander Cooper, Museum Park Master Plan
Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Miami 21
Victor Dover, Museum Park Charrettes & Southeast Overtown / Park West CRA Plan
David Dixon, Parks and Open Space Master Plan
Ana Gelabert-Sánchez, former Planning Director, City of Miami
From Miami Beckham United:
Miami Beckham United has proposed a realistic plan to expand Museum Park by more than 20 percent, bring a world-class soccer club to Miami that will be enjoyed by everyone, and enhance the public’s access to the waterfront – all made possible through $250 million in private funding, without a single penny of City or County money. A new soccer park in downtown will appeal to Miami’s diverse community, bring the world’s greatest game to one of its greatest cities, and create jobs and opportunities for local businesses.
It’s ironic that former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, whose Marlins Ballpark cost taxpayers more than $350 million without a single vote being cast, is now opposing a plan that expands Museum Park through private funding and a public vote. It’s disappointing that former Mayor Diaz and his supporters are choosing a disconnected waterfront over a continuous bay walk; a polluted, man-made mega yacht marina over more green space for the public; and a lifeless waterfront over an iconic soccer venue that draws residents and visitors to a downtown that they have worked so long to improve.