Village planners want to rip up streets to address Key Biscayne’s biggest traffic bottleneck, placing an oval-shaped roundabout at village’s often gridlocked entrance. A redesigned Crandon intersection –which handles millions of cars a year– would stretch from Calusa Park to the existing traffic roundabout on Harbor Drive near St. Agnes Catholic Church.
The roundabout — and dozens of other transformative ideas — are spelled out in a draft version of the island’s 2040 vision plan, a document that is nearing completion.
Strategic Vision Plan Board members met Monday to review the draft proposal before its presentation to the Village Council, currently scheduled for June 14. Developed by DPZ CoDesign, an urban planning firm, the plan identifies improvements in four key areas, ranging from capital projects and resiliency to building code changes and facility management.
“I think this was one of our most productive meetings in reviewing the plan and addressing the concerns raised by Village residents throughout the process of constructing this document,” said Mario Garcia Serra, the board’s chair.
Notably, the plan does not attempt to address costs, serving instead as a strategic wish list for the Village government to pursue over the next 20 years of policymaking.
Perhaps the biggest proposal comes in the form of the entrance project, described as a “gateway.” A mixed-use retail concept would relocate two gas stations and the Harbor Plaza shopping center. Some form of stoplight would remain in place to allow for safe pedestrian crossings with a new oval-shaped roundabout.
Other proposals include redevelopment of the L’Esplanade mall property into a housing complex for multi-generational living, with ground-floor retail, senior assisted living quarters, and starter rental units for young professional and an interior courtyard or promenade space.
Also envisioned – a completely new retail corridor, with the Square and Galleria shopping centers torn down and replaced with a continuous second floor promenade, where park and retail space could be combined into an open air mall.
On Monday, much of the discussion focused on crime prevention aspects of urban design, even though the island is historically rated as one of the safest communities in the state. Changes such as an increase in street-facing windows, low walls, and park space could lead to a reduction in crime. One idea would bring “police boxes” – which are present in some large urban areas – into heavily used spaces like the Village Green.
In addition to the new roadwork, the planners recommend new parks near the K-8 Center and Crossbridge Church’s bayside lawn, in addition to new student transportation services and affordable housing.
One consideration for all of the above — the thorny issue of whether to intentionally add more parking.
“There is clearly much less supply than demand, but the options are limited for providing additional parking spaces without major redevelopment or further compromising the streetscapes and walkability,” the report states.
The June 14 presentation date represents a delay from an original plan to present last December. Officials said they hope to publish the draft plan shortly.