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 News Article:  Miami 21: Could controversial development revive the City?

CBS 4 (Miami, FL)

They call it Miami 21. It's a plan to give the downtown area an urban renewal and it is up for a vote by Miami commissioners Thursday. In an automobile-fixated town, Miami 21 seeks to change zoning codes to promote green space and pedestrian friendly development. That effort is already evident on a stretch of Biscayne Boulevard just north of downtown office towers. Outdoor lunch crowds—many of them people who live nearby—sit at the open air tables watching the world and other people go by. Francesca Vassallo said, "It is becoming, I guess, friendly for people to walk around."

That is precisely what downtown planners want. 

Javier Betancourt is with the Downtown Development Authority. He said, "We want people to walk on sidewalks. We want people to sit at local parks and enjoy the view with fellow human beings. We want to activate the streets, particularly in the greater downtown area."

Some neighborhood activists will argue the effort does not go far enough, while others—developers among them—worry it goes too far. Whether the often contentious tug of war between pro and anti-development forces at city hall can find a middle ground is uncertain.

Adam Meltzer doesn't share the doubts. He's the owner of "The Daily" restaurant on Biscayne Boulevard. Three years ago his friends told him he was crazy to open twenty blocks north of downtown. They don't' say that anymore.

Meltzer says, "I'm an ex-New Yorker and part of the vibe is to establish a little bit (in downtown Miami) of that New York neighborhood vibe."

This week he will find out if city leaders share that vision.