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June 2, 2015
By Stu Robarts
Spearheaded by developer Michael Simkins and designed by SHoP Architects and West 8, the Miami Innovation District will host a mix of startups and small to large businesses and will seek to generate sustainable economic growth while complementing the local community. As well as being envisaged as an “urban campus” and a “thriving, global, connected live-work-play ecosystem,” it will seek to provide both the required infrastructure for the growth of Miami’s creative technology industries and become a destination for local people to enjoy.
The location for the new district is a 10.4-ac (4.2-ha), four-block site in the Park West neighborhood of the city. The site was chosen in part for its good existing local transport links and for the complementary mix of major planned developments nearby.
Once complete, the development will offer 3,850,000 sq ft (358,000 sq m) of office space designed with technology companies in mind. There will be around 2,400,000 sq ft (223,000 sq m) of residential space for housing the employees of such companies and a number of affordable “micro units” too, economy apartments with under 300 sq ft (28 sq m) of space.
In addition to being a business-focused development, the Innovation District will act as a means of urban renewal, with streetscape and local area improvements, including shade trees, public plazas, and interior walkways. New public spaces will provide destinations for exercising, eating, community events and workplace activities like meetings and spending time with friends. Spaces for community and campus gatherings, performances and exhibitions will also be created.
The jewel-in-the-crown of the new district will be the Miami Innovation Tower. With its sculptural design, the 663-ft (202-m) tower will feature 21,000 sq ft (2,000 sq m) of retail, ticketing and studios, a 23,000-sq ft (2,100 sq m) public roof garden and amphitheater, a number of restaurants and an observation sky terrace and viewing deck. It will also have a programmable “active skin” on which messages and adverts can be displayed.
According to the Innovate Development Group, which is behind the Miami Innovation District, the development will create 1,700 temporary construction jobs to build the tower, 700 permanent jobs to operate the tower and 13,000 high-paying permanent jobs throughout the district.
The Miami Innovation District is expected to receive full city approval later this year. Construction is projected to begin in one year, with overall completion expected in five years.