The City of Coral Gables, in partnership with the Coral Gables Business Improvement District recently commissioned Sextafeira, a creative agency that uses art to spur commercial activity, to replicate their Umbrella Project over Giralda Avenue. The selected location, Giralda Avenue, is a pedestrian corridor lined with restaurants and shops. The initiative was a great success, drawing people to the space from around Miami-Dade County and creating enormous social media attention and activity around the project and the location.
This installation follows the principles of creative placemaking, a strategy that has been adopted throughout the Country to help revitalize Main Street's and commercial corridors. Creative placemaking is generally understood as the use of arts and culture by diverse partners to strategically shape the physical and social character of a place in order to spur economic development, promote enduring social change and improve the physical environment. Local arts offerings—public art, murals, art parades, art fairs and crawls, museums, performances, and open studio nights—offer people an opportunity to enjoy and participate in community. These offerings not only help build social cohesion but also stimulate the local business community. Below are a few examples of creative placemaking:
Location: Wichita, Kansas
Objective: Connecting two diverse neighborhoods through the design and implementation of a large scale mural on a vacant grain elevator that has created a physical barrier between two commercial corridors.
Project: Truth Booth
Location: World-wide and most recently Palm Beach, Florida and Detroit, Michigan
Objective: The Truth Booth was created by the Cause Collective, an organization of artists, designers and ethnographers working together to create large-scale public art projects. It debuted in Ireland in 2011 and has made stops all over the world, including Afghanistan and South Africa. The goal of the project is to empower residents and visitors to speak freely and to give them a unique and creative opportunity to make their voices heard in public spaces.
Administration has researched various methods for executing a similar project and has identified three opportunity areas for consideration.
1. Normandy Isle (Rue Vendome) - This area has been identified in the North Beach Master Plan as a critical corridor within North Beach. Rue Vendome has been permanently closed off to vehicles and transformed into a public plaza. This street has very little shade and while Staff has started to activate this space with weekly programming, a shade structure would provide additional value.
2. Washington Avenue - Washington Avenue has recently formed a Business Improvement District (BID) to help increase vibrancy and activity along the corridor. While this is one of the City's most critical corridors in terms of tourism, it also has the highest number of storefront vacancies. The BID has expressed interest in finding creative interventions for improving the corridor and would help partner with the City on a potential project. Please note that their first assessments would not be made until the beginning of 2019.
3. 41st Street- The 41st Street Committee made a motion at their July 31, 2018 Committee meeting recommending that the Finance and Citywide Projects Committee consider 41st Street as an area of opportunity for a temporary shade structure. A master plan was recently commissioned for 41st Street by Alta Planning and Gehl Studios. This plan assessed the current conditions of the street and provided twelve critical strategies for increasing its vibrancy. One of the strategies was to provide more shade, which could be done through structures similar to the Umbrella Project as well as through increased tree canopy. This is a key commercial and tourist corridor in Miami Beach that also serves a dense residential neighborhood with local businesses and community organizations all located along the main corridor.
Shade Structure Options
1. Commission Sextafeira, or a similar creative agency. This agency in particular has created many different installations in Cities across the world. The Umbrella Project in Coral Gables cost between $80,000-$120,000. The cost for such installation would vary greatly based on location and size.
The Administration would recommended allocating $100,000.00 for a project by Sextafeira.
Timeline: 1 year (*The Giralda Avenue project took from March 2017 to July 2018 to plan, execute, and launch)
2. Partner with Arts in Public Places and the Office of Cultural Affairs to issue a local call for artists to commission a shade installation. This would be a unique way to foster creativity within our local artistic community. This has been done in other cities such as Houston which did a call for artists to create a shade project at Discover Green, as 12-acre park. As noted in the aforementioned examples of creative placemaking this concept has been performed throughout the country. Notably, the Bloomberg Art Challenge supports innovative, temporary art projects to promote vibrancy in cities.
The Administration would recommend allocating $50,000-$75,000.00 for this project.
Timeline: 6-8 months
3. Perform a quick build project using temporary shade sails of various colors. This method would be the quickest way to provide shade over identified areas. Shade sales range in price but would cost around $30,000.00. While this approach could provide a practical enhancement to an area, this tactic would not spur the same traction as the Umbrella Project did for Giralda Avenue, nor would it have a curated artistic component. A budget of $30,000.00 would allow for 2-4 shades to be installed which could be performed by City Staff.
Timeline: 8-12 weeks