North Shore Open Space Park, the nearly 28-acre natural oasis that stretches from 78th Street to 87th Terrace in Miami Beach, is about to get a complete makeover.
The park, known for its dense vegetation, is a popular destination for weekend visitors from the mainland who like the generally uncrowded beach area that runs along the park, and North Beach residents who enjoy running in the park and who make extensive use of its dog park.
The Miami Beach Design Review Board on Tuesday reviewed plans that will transform the park, by adding paved walkways and more open vegetation that allow for greater visibility, as well as a paved beach walk that will make it possible to rollerblade or bike from 87th Terrace to South Pointe Park in South Beach.
The plan was presented to the board by Calvin, Giordano & Associates and WEST 8 Urban Design & Landscaping Architecture, which also designed the Miami Beach Soundscape Park. West 8 is also working on the project design for Eighty Seven Park, a planned luxury condominium developed by Terra Group on the site of the old Howard Johnson Dezerland Hotel, just to the north of the park. Terra President David Martin bought the site for $65 million in 2013 and agreed to fund $10 million in improvements for North Beach, $6 million of which has been designated for the redesign of North Shore Open Space Park.
New plans for the park call for adding two entranceways to the current four, and for enhancing the entranceways with sculptured metal gates. The plans also call for extensive buffering of vegetation, which now mostly grows wild. Gianno Feoli, project manager for North Shore Park at Calvin, Giordarno & Associates, told the board that while extensive trimming and pruning of vegetation will take place when the new park is finished, there will actually be 4,040 trees there, 217 more than what the park currently has.
Feoli told The Real Deal the “big idea” behind the park’s re-design “is to celebrate the spectacular botanic quality that the park has and that is something that has permeated every aspect of the design.”
While most North Beach residents are supportive of the park’s re-design, Paula King, who spoke on behalf of several North Beach neighborhood associations, said many residents oppose current fencing around the park and don’t like the new fencing designs. She said many neighbors also want enhanced lighting for the park. Feoli said in his discussions with neighborhood residents many expressed concerns about the removal of shade trees and safety. He also said Miami Beach police have said they want a “physical boundary” around the park so they can enforce trespassing statutes. Several board members also said that changing the lighting would conflict with environmental regulations that facilitate the passage of sea turtles through the park. Board members approved the design submissions, but asked for a re-hearing on the fencing and lighting issues as well as on where the park’s playground should be placed.