Miami Looks To "Red Fields" To Solve Its Park Space Deficit

Andres Viglucci explores how a strategy being considered in Miami-Dade County seeks to transform distressed commercial properties into green spaces, sparking economic redevelopment throughout the county.
April 26, 2012, 6am PDT | Alesia Hsiao
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During their recent Great Park Summit, Miami-Dade County's parks department unveiled a new strategy that could provide a significant jumpstart to achieving their 50-year master plan and its central goal of providing open space within walking distance of every resident. Still in its conceptual stages, the promising proposal would turn distressed car lots and failed strip malls into neighborhood parks, explains Viglucci.

"The approach, dubbed Red Fields to Green Fields, is based on a strategy developed by Michael Messner, a Wall Street hedge-fund manager who says it can help reverse the flow of red ink in commercial real estate while removing blight and jump-starting the economic redevelopment of neighborhoods hit hardest by the recession."

With $40,000 raised in grants alone, Miami-Dade hopes to start a pilot project within the year, reports Viglucci. Cities like Atlanta, Denver and Houston have already followed suit, and are testing the strategy in their cities.

According to Jack Kardys, the county parks director, "A model that agency planners developed shows that a 10-acre tract converted into a park and ancillary development mixing housing with commercial uses could generate $500,000 in property taxes a year - enough to cover $200,000 in annual park maintenance and operations, with the balance going into local government coffers." Kardys adds that parks attract development and heighten property values in their surrounding areas.

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Published on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 in The Miami Herald
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