The City’s vision for the Coconut Grove Waterfront is a human-scaled coastal recreational park with public open spaces, strong pedestrian connectivity, inviting waterfront promenades, diverse open spaces, and environmentally sensitive connections to the Spoil Islands. The planning team’s approach to achieve the City’s vision was to create a catalyst for urban revitalization of the Center Grove by redefining the urban context; to connect distinct places by strengthening the pedestrian experience; to create a comfortable human-scaled experience along the water’s edge in part by replacing vehicles with human activity; and to accommodate a multitude of activities by instituting a community vision for the area. The process built upon multiple recent planning efforts including the Peacock Park Charrette; the Parks and Public Spaces Master Plan; the Kenneth Myers Park improvements; the 1996 Coconut Grove Planning Study; the Miami 21 Plan; the Commodore Bike Trail & Bicycle Project; and numerous Capital Improvement Projects for the immediate area.
The Coconut Grove Waterfront and Spoil Islands Master Plan represents an incredible opportunity to improve the waterfront and take advantage of the area as a catalyst for economic development in the Center Grove and for enhancement of amenities for the surrounding residents (Figures 1–5). Based on community input, the Coconut Grove Waterfront and Spoil Islands Master Plan’s early objectives were to:
- Enhance physical connections;
- Strengthen Center Grove;
- Capitalize on views to the water;
- Green the waterfront;
- Extend the baywalk promenade.
The plan strives to transform the underutilized waterfront into more cohesive and vibrant public spaces and reorganizes the Expo Center and Dinner Key Marina areas into a concentrated working waterfront for recreation, education, and live-aboards.
In addition to developing design solutions for the Coconut Grove Waterfront and Spoil Islands that are both structurally viable and community supportable, the planning team also sought to develop an environmentally sustainable plan, one that elevates the quality of life for residents and visitors alike (Figure 6). The United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development describes sustainability as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This sense of sustainability is ingrained in the approach towards the Coconut Grove Waterfront. This environmental perspective creates a plan that acknowledges a strong relationship between the natural setting and proposed development, and responds to both a scientific analysis of the environment and market and economic realities. The sustainability goals for the Coconut Grove Waterfront and Spoil Islands are to:
- Create a walkable, livable community that promotes human interaction;
- Configure buildings on the site to minimize energy use by means of natural ventilation, daylighting, and shading from vegetation;
- Explore diverse transportation options and shared parking alternatives;
- Design walking trails and bike paths that link the built environment with the natural environment;
- Conserve water resources through reuse, on-site treatment, and reduction in peak demand;
- Use biofiltration where possible to ensure groundwater recharge and to reduce out-of-basin transfer through stormwater drains;
- Establish a natural systems framework that preserves open space, habitat, buffers, and corridors to minimize impacts to the ecosystem;
- Minimize the “Heat Island” effect by reducing surface parking lot coverage and by introducing light colored pavements;
- Employ pervious pavements wherever appropriate;
- Re-establish habitat zones by use of native and non-invasive plant species.