In Part 1 I talked about the Public Fish Market building by the Miami River and how it got my wife and I thinking of a possible new Miami Public Market. In Part 2, I share that daydream with you. I should tell developers that if you use any of these ideas, I fully expect to be compensated!
A new Miami Public Market space centered around the old Public Fish Market, only seconds from Downtown Miami, in the middle of this historic neighborhood. The old fish market building restored, it now serves as a welcoming area to the new market, showcasing an information kiosk and visitor’s center, a short visual history of the Miami River and the public fish market, and selling branded Miami Public Market merchandise, all this alongside space for other Miami entities to promote themselves to locals and tourists alike: Bike Miami, Miami River Commission, local galleries and festivals, etc.
Across the street and down NW N River Dr. there are three areas for the new buildings of the Miami Public Market. Across the old fish market/Visitor Center, Market Area 1 sits in a small island surrounded by SW 1st Street. The new building constructed here, perhaps a two-story structure, would be the new fish market building, housing vendors selling fresh fish and seafood, highlighting local and seasonal options when available, frozen as a second option to carry the vendors through the lean times. Ideally caught by local fishermen and brought to the market via the Miami River, the merchandise is unloaded at the landing right next to the Visitor Center.
Take a short walk down N River Dr. and on the other side of the SW 1st St. overpass, on the narrow strip that is Market Area 2, envision a canopied open air bazaar for local artists. It would be two rows of tables with enough space in between them for foot traffic to flow in both directions, the canopies allowing the breeze to flow through yet keeping the harsh sun or the rain out. Table space would be available to artisans for a very cheap fee, offset by private funding, grants or as unobtrusive advertising as possible; a membership fee might be another way to go on this. The idea is to give local artists a prime space outlet to sell their wares for as nominal a fee as it can be managed. In this way we nurture the local art scene and draw foot traffic, especially the touristy type. (Did I mention I’d want non-stop shuttle service to/from the Port of Miami?)
Across the street, on the other side of SW 2nd St, is Market Area 3, the location for the multi-story (at least three) main building of the new Miami Public Market. Here are housed the produce vendors, especially the local farmers and CSAs, which would receive an incentive for their presence, selling fresh and seasonal fruits and veggies. Include here (perhaps in a different floor) space for meat vendors selling non-mass-farmed (and ideally grass-fed) meats. Rounding out the selection would be locally-made foods, such as honey or jams or whatever as long as they are local and do not need to be cooked on-premise, as well as flower vendors.
I’d open up some space for non-local vendors as well, but my main objective would be to get as much support going for local farms as possible (I roughly define “local” as being within a 250-mile radius, but considering our particular geography in Florida, I’d be happy to include the entire state, giving us the widest variety possible). I know this may sound a bit punctilious, but I cannot stress enough how important promoting and supporting local farmers is to the mission of the Miami Public Market.
You might’ve been wondering about parking space for all the visitors the market would get. The wonderful thing is that, the parking space is already there. Wisely using the space under I-95, there are a number of large parking lots, currently closed for the most part (frankly, in 14+ years in the city I have never seen them used, though I’m not a constant presence Downtown by any stretch of the imagination).
So there it is, our idea for a new Miami Public Market in the Downtown area. Would it ever get made? I don’t think so. I’m trying not to be as cynical about progress in Miami as in years past, so I’d like to think that perhaps part of the idea could be implemented at some point in the near future (and if we take the report from the Miami River Commission at face value, it seems they want to do something along those lines in this area). So, here’s hoping.
One of the advantages of Bike Miami, the ability to explore Downtown Miami in a slower, more leisurely way, was never more evident for me than during this last iteration of the monthly event, when a new route extension was opened from Downtown to Lummus Landing, right on the Miami River. I’ve lived in Miami for almost 15 years now and I just never knew that was back there, hiding coyly from the bustle of I-95. Getting the chance to explore this area on my bike was fantastic, and I got to see things I did not know we had down here, like the stables of the Miami Mounted Police, Ft. Dallas, the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple, and Lummus Park & Landing. Then there was also the Public Fish Market. Wait, the what?
A nondescript building in faded tones of pink, the Public Fish Market sits on NW N River Dr, almost under the SW 1st St bridge and ideally accessible from SW 2nd St. The building is obviously abandonded, not necessarily falling apart, but very much unused for years, all painted lettering almost unreadable at this point. When I first rode by I completely ignored it; it just didn’t exist in my peripheral vision, a phenomenon, I dare say, happens to most passerbys. It was only when we were riding back into Downtown that my wife took notice of it. She read something written on the wall out loud and that’s what made me look right and see the derelict structure for the first time.
The message on the wall read:
Capt Tom says:
This market was built for the benefit of the general public so they may buy fish at reasonable prices.
A lot of questions went through my mind as I turned around to read the inscription myself: We had a public fish market? I wonder how many know of this? Who was Capt. Tom? More to the point however, I wondered how come this building is not in use anymore!
Annoyingly, I have not been able to find any mention of this building anywhere online. The closest references I have found include:
- From City of Miami Plans & Initiatives: Miami River
“Lummus Landing” (Riverside Redevelopment Project)
“Lummus Landing” is another project that combines quality of life improvements in the form of a river walk, public plazas and boat slips, with the economic potential to create additional commercial activity of the River. Located on River Drive, across the street from Lummus Park (where the Pioneers Club used to sit), the City is currently overlooking the construction activities that are under way. Backed by an economic study of the Riverside district that was finished in 2000, the City eventually plans to seek a private entrepreneur to develop marine-related retail establishments, a restaurant, or possibly a fish market to serve the Riverside neighborhood. (Emphasis mine)
- From Miami River Commission Meeting Minutes: August 24, 2004(!)
A. Informational Presentation on the Status of the Garcia Brothers Seafood Inc.
Garcia stated the sites Lummus Park neighborhood was recently studied for historical designation, and his site and buildings are old enough for historic preservation. Garcia stated he is willing to negotiate new lease terms, including a raise in rent, providing improvements to the site such as a public seafood market, etc., yet wants the business to remain at the site. (Emphasis mine)
Neither of these reference are about the public fish market on NW N River Dr. though they do refer to the possible development of such an establishment in the area (Garcia Brothers Seafood now operates a fish market on premises). I’m going to keep digging to see if I can find more info on this building’s history (perhaps this will merit a visit to the library Downtown).
I am fascinated by this building, partly because of the implied history in it, but mainly because of the promise of what it could be again. Having seen the magnificent example of a public market in Pike Place Market in Seattle, my wife and I both had sudden daydreams of a similar space here in Miami. A quick look around us put us in the mindset of developers.
In Part 2 I’ll share our vision of this possible Miami Public Market.
These are just a couple of things I forgot to mention when I wrote my report of Bike Miami 3.
- Kudos to whoever thought of putting up a Bike Miami Info Kiosk/water station at Gibb Park, at the start of the Venetian Causeway bike lane. The volunteers there were asking cyclists if they were heading to/coming back from Bike Miami and handing out water bottles. Considering the centrality of this route for Miami Beach cyclists, this was a fantastic way to raise awareness of Bike Miami. I’d love to see more inter-city cooperation like this in the future.
- Local mainstream media, in general, once again failed to support a great event that helps build up a sense of community and spotlights the efforts to make Miami a more livable city for the new millennium. Shame on you NBC 6, WSVN Channel 7, Channel 10 and SunPost.
- That said, some local media did actually feature Bike Miami new coverage! Here’s what I found:
- CBS4.com had a 30-second video of their mention of Bike Miami on their morning news show the day of the event. Maybe next time they’ll mention it in advance on their prime time news show?
- The Miami Herald had an article entitled “It’ll be a free-wheelin’ Sunday in downtown Miami” that ran the Friday before Bike Miami (1/16/09), providing a small report on the event and a guide to the day’s activities. Very nice.
- Miami NewTimes had a rep at the event snapping pics left and right that they compiled into a Bike Miami Days Slideshow on their website (my wife and I even made it into the slideshow!).
Yesterday was this third installment of Bike Miami Days, the City of Miami’s monthly event promoting a bicycle-friendly environment and lifestyle in Downtown Miami. This month’s event featured a new route extension all the way from Downtown to the Miami Riverfront and Lummus Landing, plus the tried-and-true route south into Mary Brickell Village, though the Bayfront Park section from previous events was shut down for this one due to a festival the night before and the lack of time to prepare the park for public use.
In short, Bike Miami 3 was a resounding success, paralleling the level of enthusiasm and attendance of the first Bike Miami in November 2008. There was a rally at Lummus Landing at 10:30 am to kick-off the day and events at Lummus and Mary Brickell, things like Yoga classes and performances by local musicians, all free. There were also free bike rentals, a welcomed addition for those who don’t have bikes of their own yet want to take part in the event. Local businesses also took part, starting a trend I’d like to see continue, bringing commercial support to the event.
Downtown Miami’s businesses also took up the banner, opening their stores en masse, and even engaging with the riders. Kay Kirk Jeweler’s was again handing out water in front of their store, and there was a live band playing near the courthouse on Flager Ave, livening up the brisk afternoon.
Once more, families made up a significant segment of the participants; it was fantastic to see all the kids riding around Downtown with their parents. I will echo something said over at Miami Bike Scene, though: cyclists need to learn the rules of riding, especially parents when they are bringing their kids over. It would be a shame to have an accident at a Bike Miami event, especially when it could be prevented simply observing common sense when on two wheels.
Bike Miami 4 will return in February in conjunction with Flagler Fest.