In the heyday of Miami's building boom, the empty spaces were where the magic happened.
Pre-construction condo sales parties turned vacant lots into fields of dreams. Developers would one-up each other by stocking their sales events not only with glossy brochures but also celebrity appearances, sexy salsa dancers, trampoline artists.
All of that largess is gone now, and some of those glossy brochures never became actual brick-and-mortar buildings. The empty spaces are just that – fenced-in and unwelcoming.
Could they be something more?
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Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff thinks so and is proposing that the city turn some of those would-be condo properties into temporary parks. Amid the dour economic climate, it will likely be years before developers build anything there, even in prime, waterfront locations.
Call it rent-a-park.
Sarnoff, following the lead of a Seattle program that turns vacant land into community gardens, has approached several local developers.
One, Tibor Hollo, is poised to grant Miami use of his 1201 Brickell Bay Drive property – future home of the two-tower, 787-unit Villa Magna project – for the next three years at a lease rate of $1 a year.
The Brickell-area property boasts panoramic views of downtown in a densely-populated neighborhood lacking park space.
"Every cloud has a silver lining," Sarnoff said of Miami's now-lackluster real estate market. "And the silver lining for the citizens of Miami is that they get to have a waterfront park."
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