While mega-condo developments are enlivening districts in and around Miami's urban core, a long moribund downtown business district struggles to keep up. Many hope that small improvements will make a big difference in the area's quest for vitality.
"A year ago, a top Macy's executive ripped the condition of downtown Miami in front of a shocked Chamber of Commerce audience, describing the city's urban core as a place of 'broken curbs, collapsed sidewalks and garbage-strewn empty lots.'
The stinging speech served as something of a wake-up call to community leaders. In the year since, many sidewalks have been repaired. Six uniformed downtown ''ambassadors'' have been hired to deter crime and guide visitors. And new residents have steadily trickled in, attracted by shiny high-rises and short commutes.
The city's central business district, where thousands make the daily trek to work in the office towers and government centers, still has a ways to go. 'What people need to understand is that that place was derelict and in decay for decades,' Miami Mayor Manny Diaz said. 'You can't flip on a switch and change it overnight.'"