Coral Gables mobility hub hits retail hurdle

Written by Abraham Galvan on March 29, 2022

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Coral Gables mobility hub hits retail hurdle

The Coral Gables Transportation Advisory Board presented its suggestions for the ground floor of the mobility hub on Andalucía Avenue to the city commission on Tuesday.

The current layout, which allows only minimal and inadequate parking for bicycles on the open ground floor and scooter parking with charging stations on the second floor, is not well thought out for micro-mobility, said Roberta Neway, Board Member.

“We recommend safe and secure work for bicycles on the ground floor with e-bike charging stations, scooter parking and charging stations,” Ms Neway said. “We suggest the entire ground floor be dedicated to micro-mobility options and accommodation versus other retail space.”

The advisory board believes these resolutions will accommodate the projected increase in the use of bicycles and scooters, she said. This could include bike storage lockers, bike shops, scooter shops, repair stations, bike shares and scooter sharing entities.

“And we also recommend, our final recommendation, that the design and implementation of a truly protected cycle path on the south side of Andalucia (Avenue) be considered by the city,” Ms Neway added.

The proposed downstairs facility is fully adaptable, City Manager Peter J. Iglesias told council. “So as micro-mobility increases, we can increase that footprint. In the future, there may be a take-out restaurant or pay-to-go facility that would go well with this facility. What we envision is a completely adaptable first stage that has this ability to adapt. »

There needs to be a balance because of the costs of the project and having a retail component at the bottom is a big factor in terms of generating revenue that will help subsidize the cost of the project, Vice Mayor Michael Mena said.

“My point is just that there are a lot of moving parts to this and it’s a fair recommendation from the transport advisory that the priority should be transport and we just have to as an organization I think balance the whole picture as best we can and have those options in the establishment,” he said. “I think we’re going to have a balance where we have a bit of retail at the bottom realistically, just because of the economics associated with it, which have already become more important from a cost perspective.”

Coral Gables Mobility Hub construction company The Weitz Company has already gotten the go-ahead to demolish a parking lot where the hub will rise, costing the city an additional $1.5 million. City officials approved future bond funds to be allocated to unpredictable costs of services that were not included in the management agreement.

“I won’t have the project on Andalucia which doesn’t have some sort of bike lane on the north or south side,” Mayor Vince Lago added. “We need to find common ground on this issue, as far as the first floor is concerned. I can’t upvote something that takes a lot of the funding structure away from the performer, especially with the cost of construction right now”

The estimated $42 million Coral Gables Mobility Center at 245 Andalous Avenue is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2024. The center is to have an internal drive-thru lane for ride-sharing services , bicycle retail and storage. It will also offer dockless vehicle parking, self-service bike docks, a wi-fi lounge, e-commerce logistics for drone package deliveries, and pop-up cafes.

The first level is reserved for electric vehicles, with charging stations in all areas. The intermediate levels will be autonomous car parks that can accommodate autonomous vehicles in the future. The open-air rooftop will include landscaped areas, meeting spaces, a cafe-restaurant, relaxation areas and areas to practice sports.

“Maybe if the project was a $25 million project,” the mayor said, “we could consider that, but right now we need that first floor square footage to bring in the value. necessary to offset the costs.”

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