Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Miami Beach Project Stirs Traffic Concerns

Some Miami Beach residents are questioning whether a proposed retail project at Fifth Street and Alton Road in South Beach will create ''a traffic nightmare'' in the area.

Berkowitz Development, which is planning an 185,000-square-foot retail project scheduled for completion in the fall of 2009, provided an update on the project last week at a meeting of the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club.

''They're reassuring us that traffic is going to be easier and that planning is giving them the result they wanted, which is hypothetical,'' said David Kelsey, moderator of the meeting, which meets informally every Tuesday. ``Everyone is just concerned that this is just going to be a traffic nightmare.''

Jeff Berkowitz, CEO of Berkowitz Development, told the 30 residents gathered at 8:30 a.m. at David's Café II, 1654 Meridian Ave., that the site will include a 1,100-space parking garage, which should alleviate some of the traffic. He said the development group is hoping that people entering the city will use the garage as a starting-off point for other places they want to visit, such as Ocean Drive, Lincoln Road and Washington Avenue.

''We believe, and the city believes, that there's an opportunity to cut off some of the clubgoers who are heading from the mainland to the Beach, and we are hoping to get them to park at the perimeter lot,''

Berkowitz said. ``We are working with the city to get some shuttle to work with us.''Berkowitz said the company so far has executed leases with Publix Supermarket, Best Buy and Staples, meaning neighboring residents won't have to travel far for their groceries or other needs. Berkowitz expects other retail stores to join in once they see what kind of potential the project has, he said.

Vanessa Arellano Doctor

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