Today, at a meeting of the Commercial and Industrial Association of South Florida, Steven Gretenstein presented DACRA’S plans for the future of the Design District, including the future of the Oak Plaza site. Until today, we knew little more than what Craig Robins and the DACRA P.R. machine had waxed poetic about, in vague but enticing terms. Now, we know a lot more. I’ve requested a copy of his presentation, which presents the somewhat radical but ultimately exciting future of the district, and I hope to post it here soon, to illustrate my description.
The core of DACRA’s plan is the current Plumer Alley, which is the pedestrian alley adjacent to Oak Plaza. Plumer Alley will be extended from 42nd Street to 38th, creating a pedestrian street that stretches the full north/south length of the district. At both ends property has been secured for a department store, each potentially 3 stories in height.
Plumer Alley, first section of the new Design District "mall"
This pedestrian street will be the core of the “new” Design District. It will be the “mall” that the various fashion retailers like Louis Vuitton, Hermes, and Cartier, will cluster around.
The character of the neighborhood, although densifying, will remain low-rise and a mixture of new and old construction.
Hermes, and perhaps other LVMH brands, will have its headquarters at Oak Plaza, in a building which is still being designed. At the moment, designs have the Hermes headquarters, which is what it is being called, at three stories. Presumably the trees will remain, as DACRA has taken such care to preserve them so far.
Louis Vuitton, Cartier, and Celine, will open temporary locations by this summer on NE 40th Street, while their permanent locations are being constructed.
The lot behind the Post Office and Fendi Casa store will have a large city parking garage, containing five hundred spots. Additional garages, as well as underground parking similar to what currently exists under the Buena Vista and Melin Buildings will raise the number of new spaces to 2,000.
Buckminster Fuller’s Fly’s Eye Dome, which Craig Robins restored and displayed at last year’s Design Miami Fair, will enclose the pedestrian entrance and exit to the new underground parking deck.
Buckminster Fuller's Fly's Eye Dome will be the pedestrian entrance to the underground parking deck
New facades are being given to many of the main DACRA buildings along NE 2nd, Including the 4100 Building, and the Buena Vista Building, by various haute-design architects.
The extensive landscaping plan will include a series of rooftop gardens on many of the retail buildings. The first garden is currently under construction, on top of the infill building that replaced the Enea Bamboo Garden. That building should be complete and occupied later this year.
This new building at the former Enea Bamboo Garden site, will be topped by a roof garden, as will many others according to DACRA's plans for the Design District.
DACRA is interested in the Design District’s connections with Midtown, Wynwood, and Buena Vista. Steve, specifically, is working on getting the city to install a street light at 36th street, to facilitate pedestrian access between the Design District and Midtown. When asked about DACRA’s opinion on the new Walmart, he said that European brands don’t see it as the threat that many Americans do, and left it at that.