How often have you heard that central Vancouver is in danger of becoming a resort – assuming that a city of high amenity is in conflict with a ‘real’ city of jobs and a diversity of people. The assumption must be that a city with lots of parks and a seawall, abundant restaurants and community services, with a generally high quality of design, is a place of frills, or one servicing only those who don’t have to work full time.

Why is that true?  Especially when the statistics on job growth and income levels prove otherwise.  (And as usual it’s necessary to remind everyone that the majority of West Enders are lower-middle income renters and that there has been a notable increase in employment downtown.)

Why shouldn’t a city core be a place where it feels somewhat like a resort: a place where people spend significant amounts of time and money to go to because it’s so damn nice?  Why shouldn’t a city be a place where on your time off you don’t have to go somewhere else because what you want is already here?

Other places are catching on – as an Urban Land Institute article illustrates about development in Miami.  And yes, these are all high-end ‘luxury’ products.  But note, in particular, the importance of transit and walkability: the amenities and public spaces financed or assisted by the developers are available to the larger community.

ULI Miami

Three new master-planned communities—two in Miami and a third in Sunrise, a west Broward County suburb that skirts the Everglades—are among the most highly anticipated real estate projects in south Florida right now as business and civic leaders gauge consumer appetite for dense, walkable, and mixed-use urban lifestyles. In a state known for sprawling, single-family subdivisions, a move toward vertical, compact communities represents a new chapter.

Representatives of these three marquee projects, Miami World Center, Brickell City Centre, and Metropica, spoke at the recent ULI Florida Summit in Miami about their projects’ past challenges and present opportunities as south Florida’s economic boom continues. …

Each development is also relying on heavy interest from international buyers who may be purchasing second or third homes and are in need or larger units to serve as a home base in Miami. Providing transportation alternatives is critical for these clients since they hail from “global cities where transit is a big part of the way they live,” said panelist Nitin Motwani, managing principal of Miami Worldcenter Associates, Miami World Center’s master developer. …

The goal has been to capitalize on the fortuitous transformation of downtown Miami into an arts and culture hub, Motwani said. Over the past decade, the Perez Art Museum Miami, Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami–Dade County, and Museum Parkall within walking distance of World Center—have undergone massive renovations and are continuing to be improved to enhance the pedestrian experience and access.

To the north of the site, the up-and-coming neighborhoods of Wynwood, the Design District, Midtown, and Edgewater are redefining the center of gravity for downtown, placing World Center in the middle. In addition, Brightline, a new passenger rail system that is being developed by All Aboard Florida, will provide high-speed rail service between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Orlando. The system’s brand-new Miami station, MiamiCentral, is a block away from the World Center site. …

Transit accessibility and fine-grained pedestrian streetscapes will make all the difference for World Center’s high street–style retail concept, which combines so-called attainable luxury brands with eateries and entertainment. Sidewalks were designed as wide boulevards to “allow not just for restaurants to spill out, but for people to push strollers and ride bicycles without fear” of cars, Motwani said. …

Brickell’s other sustainable features include pedestrian connectivity and transit orientation. Swire made significant transit investments to improve the site, including $14 million in upgrades to the Metromover station, which provides direct access to Brickell City Centre’s shops. …