The Makeover of Miracle Mile and Giralda Plaza is now a Year Old, but it Still Needs Your Help… at Least as Cheerleaders
By Mark Trowbridge
It has been exactly one year since we dedicated the new and improved Miracle Mile, a fantastical fête years in the making for our community’s main street. The gathering of merchants and property owners and elected officials that afternoon heralded a new day for our downtown and newer opportunities for growth, as well. It was an amazing evening full of energy and camaraderie, a celebration like no other in recent memory.
Yet, as the past year has shown us, if you build it, it does not necessarily mean people (and customers) will come. We have seen the after-effects of the streetscape project take their toll on merchants and retailers, many of whom share the frustration that their businesses are still off from prior years. This is our current challenge and one that we continue to be invested in solving.
I recall when I first arrived at the Coral Gables Chamber nearly 13 years ago that the Miracle Mile Streetscape Project was a priority of our downtown merchants and our organization. Yet, in 2006, little progress had been made on actual plans and no political will had been garnered. Enter our Chamber leadership, with a renewed enthusiasm to get this project done, joining forces with the BID and other stakeholders to make it happen. With changes in administration – and new voices on our City Commission – we started to gain real momentum. Conversations on parking (parallel versus angle, loss of spaces, etc.), construction disruption and rising rents gave way to design ideas, a curb-less street and pedestrian-friendly pavers.
We were then on our way. And yes, the process was painful at times and stressful at others, but like any facelift, we just needed time to heal. That is the phase we are in now and part of the process of rebuilding a beautiful main street is to remind everyone – old customers, prospective ones and new shoppers – that we have something incredibly special to offer in our gorgeous downtown and retail mix. There is nothing that compares to our Miracle Mile anywhere in Greater Miami or South Florida. Even after one year, it still smells like new car!
And so, on the first anniversary of our newly reimagined downtown, we invite you all to celebrate with paper – the green kind! Come shop, spend, dine and explore. And don’t forget Giralda Plaza, which has now been completed for 18 months and has directly benefitted from the outdoor seating, pedestrian-friendly plaza and public art installations par excellence.
With many thanks to our retail strategist Francesca Valdes, our partners in the BID and City, along with the fearless retailers and merchants we love and adore, we invite you to once again experience our gorgeous Miracle on the Mile. Happy Anniversary to all!
Mark Trowbridge is the President and CEO of the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce