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AWARDS, ACCOLADES, PUBLICATIONS AND NEWS.
Principal and founder of Plusurbia, Juan Mullerat, took the stage on Wednesday, December 05, at Nova Southeastern University to address an esteemed audience of elected officials and senior staff during the ULI Elected Official & Public Sector Density Workshop. The workshop, organized by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Southeast Florida/Caribbean Chapter, served as a platform to share insights and expertise on the critical topic of density in urban planning. The event aimed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and opportunities associated with density from the perspective of elected officials and public sector leaders. Mullerat's presentation focused on the intricacies of managing density within the context of urban development. He addressed the engaged crowd with a wealth of knowledge, drawing from his extensive experience in urban planning and development.  
  In a captivating session titled "Reimagining Greenville's Gateway: A Community-initiated Plan," urban design firm Plusurbia took center stage at the South Carolina APA Fall Conference. The event, held at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa, featured Plusurbia's Juan Mullerat and Dylan Gehring, alongside key collaborators: Greenville’s City Manager, Shannon Lavrin, and local business owner and stakeholder Robert Donovan. The focal point of the session was the groundbreaking 2022 project, the "East Gateway District," a transformative initiative aimed at revitalizing Greenville's Gateway Area. The Community Vision Plan, presented by the Plusurbia team, emerged as a strategic blueprint that embraces the neighborhood's unique assets while implementing innovative strategies to seamlessly reconnect the built environment with the adjacent downtown. Revitalization began with the City’s downtown, and in the decades since, has grown outward from there in every direction; that is, except for the Gateway Area. Instead, Greenville’s most popular entrance, seeing 54,000 vehicles move through it daily, has continued to be defined by a series of disconnected development patterns, and includes a National Register-listed Historic Neighborhood, the City’s Arena, and the County’s Law Enforcement Center. Out of this, grew a community movement to plan for the area’s future, featuring a multimodal corridor, an entertainment district, and context-sensitive infill development, solidifying the connections between this new node and downtown. Plusurbia is grateful for the large turnout and exceptional questions, helping illustrate how the privately led collaboration with the City made this project different, and the key timeliness of completing the plan before the adoption of Greenville’s new development code.
Tactical urbanism is part of the toolkit communities have to transform their streets, fostering innovation, awareness of pedestrians and micro-mobility on the road, and community belonging. Tactical urbanism revitalizes neglected spaces by empowering citizens to reshape their surroundings with small-scale, quick interventions. It cultivates a powerful civic pride, driving positive social change and sustainable development. At Plusurbia, we believe that tactical interventions can lead to long-term change. Establishing a long-term vision is critical before Tactical Urbanism interventions are considered. We work with our clients to create roadmaps that address communities' needs and create lasting change. Exercises such as mobility master planning, corridor studies, and comprehensive planning, are critical steps in generating the long term vision for mobility in any given city or township. Comprehensive and mobility planning are a careful balance between enhancing the existing public realm while anticipating future development needs. We combine best practices in complete streets design with local knowledge of network planning. As such, site visits and community outreach are core to the process of generating viable solutions that work for everyone. A successful study takes care to look beyond crash data analysis, towards travel patterns and safety audits to identify community needs that match community desires and support economic development. These planning strategies generate high-level recommendations, such as corridor selection and prioritization, necessary for the funding, design, and construction phases of projects. In addition, long-term visions are key to define objectives that lead to short-term implementations, such as pilot projects. This is where tactical urbanism is key, by creating projects that are implementable in a short period of time, which is key to demonstrate progress. This is why we are using tactical urbanism to advance the Borinquen Trail, an island-wide trail network for Puerto Rico. Tactical urbanism facilitates practitioners and governments, along with communities, to partner on advancing the implementation of soft treatments, such as pedestrian crosswalks, bicycle route symbols on pavements, and signage that will be the base for a future street improvements through reconstruction. Most of all, it is empowering to communities that wish to support safety advocacy efforts, and this empowerment leads to public policy success as communities adopt a culture of safe driving, rolling, and walking. As an added bonus, communities may adopt these tools as a means to continue the conversation beyond pilot projects, and these desires can be supported by governments through street improvement permitting and adopt-a-street initiatives.
Lake Wales Main Street was among winners of 2023 Florida Main Street Awards, which were announced during the Preservation on Main Street Conference in Ocala last week. Florida Main Street is a program administered by the Division of Historical Resources under the Florida Department of State, which currently oversees 57 communities throughout the state. By implementing the National Main Street Center's Four-Point Approach, Florida Main Street encourages economic development within the context of historic preservation through the revitalization of Florida's downtowns, cultural and heritage districts, which it describes as "the community's heart and soul." Lake Wales won a "Distinctive Preservation Award" in recognition of downtown mixed-use design standards in Category A. Those standards were recently adopted by the City of Lake Wales, and are intended to protect the historic designs of the downtown district while encouraging residential and new commercial uses that will reflect that history. The new standards were among recommendations contained in the Lake Wales Connected plan that have been adopted by the city commission. A variety of awards were given to programs across the state in recognition of individuals and projects ranging from single landmark building preservation to special events. Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd was at the ceremony to present awards to this year's winners who achieved outstanding results in historic preservation and commercial activity through the Florida Main Street program. "This year's winners have shown a remarkable commitment to preserving the distinct heritage, traditions, and culture that make their historic downtowns attractive places for commerce," said Secretary Byrd. "The Department of State is proud to showcase these success stories in the preservation and revitalization of Florida's historic downtowns."
On Celebrate Trails Day (this Saturday, April 22), Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), the largest U.S.-based trails advocacy organization, showcases the impact of trails and trail systems on people, places and the planet by encouraging everyone to get outside on trails. Joining this year's celebration is the Borinquen Trail in Puerto Rico as part of its partnership with RTC. In addition, Borinquen Trail will collaborate with RTC on technical assistance initiatives and advocate for funding sources and best practices in trail implementation. Since 1992, RTC has helped advocate for more than $20 billion in funds to support more than 40,000 trail and active transportation projects throughout the nation. The Borinquen Trail is a 600-mile multi-use trail for walking and bicycling, endorsed by RTC. The trail repurposes former railroad right-of-way encircling the island, including breathtaking beachfront and historic tunnel segments. The route will connect 22 municipalities and, once fully implemented, could generate up to $673 million in annual user spending through direct, indirect, and induced economic effects. Adding to this sum will be the growth and creation of businesses associated with the outdoor recreation industry, including restaurants, sports equipment and bicycle rental establishments, history and tourism groups, hotels, and more. The trail could support between 4,708 and 7,294 jobs and is expected to spur an annual $21-41 million in new island and federal tax income. The implementation of the Borinquen Trail has already begun, a critical step in the island’s journey to a more sustainable environmental, and resilient future. Last month, planning for the Borinquen’s pilot project in Playa de Ponce (in the south of the island) was completed, and new local partners are joining to drive construction and designation of the trail. When finished, it will establish a multimodal connection between two historic centers: Playa de Ponce and the municipality’s town core. The Borinquen Trail has the potential to significantly increase tourism island-wide, create thousands of jobs, and improve public health across Puerto Rico. With the rail-trail already in motion, there is much to look forward to as its route unfolds over the coming years. To learn more and support this effort, visit https://www.rutaborinquen.org. Celebrate Trails Day is the annual celebration of the spring trail season, recognized on the fourth Saturday in April. The national celebration is organized by RTC, the largest U.S.-based trails organization—with a grassroots community more than 1 million strong. RTC is dedicated to building a nation connected by trails, reimagining public spaces to create safe ways for everyone to walk, bike and be active outdoors. Follow #CelebrateTrails on social media for updates, and connect with RTC at railstotrails.org and @railstotrails on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
INTERVIEW: Juan Mullerat Date: 20230315   Can you share more about Plusurbia and the kinds of projects your team focuses on?  At Plusurbia, we focus on making cities better places to live and work by improving walkability, affordability, and context. Our projects range from creating walkable neighborhoods with a mix of housing types to creating inclusive public spaces that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds. We also specialize in leveraging data to create targeted solutions for communities facing gentrification and displacement, such as developing tools to help assess the potential effects of development decisions on existing residents. Our firm has always balanced private, public, and pro-bono projects. We work for municipalities or the state, we work with private developers and property owners, and then, this is the exciting side of our studio: we get involved with non-profits or communities with limited or no budgets to help them improve their neighborhoods. We are currently involved in Ruta Borinquen, a not-for-profit effort to revitalize communities along a 426-mile stretch of the former railway in Puerto Rico.  We are designing and implementing pocket parks in various neighborhoods, and we are working with some communities experiencing very aggressive displacement. Our team is committed to engaging local stakeholders throughout the planning and implementation process so that all voices are heard and community vision prevails. Ultimately, we aim to ensure that all communities become safe and accessible places with robust amenities and the tools to improve lives.   Gentrification and climate change are both at the forefront of planning. However, the combination of the two, climate gentrification, is still a fairly new term and a concept we're just now trying to wrap our minds around. For our listeners, can you explain what climate gentrification means and give examples of how you've seen it play out in Miami or other cities? 
Last January, our team collected information for an ongoing economic impact analysis of the trail, which will provide hard numbers to prove its value. Dylan Gehring and David Soto visited existing trail segments that will one day be connected and integrated into the future 595 mile Borinquen Trail. They ran trail counts every day during peak-use times and collected trail user spending data by conducting brief surveys. They also examined portions of the old railroad embankments and bridge systems that are not currently trails. Among the trails surveyed, Paseo Lineal Río Bayamón proved to be the most popular and highest-quality segment. Dylan and David conducted seven days of consecutive data collection across five trails (2 trail segments were repeated to determine the factor of difference between weekdays and weekends) which garnered about 550 responses. The selection of the trails studied was tied to the necessity of having an example of each typology: urban, suburban, rural, beachfront, and natural preserve.   This data will be used for an economic impact analysis and to continue to assess and design future segments of the Borinquen Trail.
The Next Miami: Article December 22, 2022 Renderings have been released for Upland Park, a $1b transit-oriented development planned near the Dolphin Mall. The development will be “the first truly viable alternative to automobile commuting,”. Upland Park is being purpose-built for integration with the upcoming east-west transit corridor, according to the developer. The community will have expedited access to major employment areas such as Miami International Airport, the Health District, Downtown and Brickell, the developer says. The project site itself is at the planned Dolphin rapid transit station.   [caption id="attachment_27290" align="aligncenter" width="1290"] A rendering released by Miami-Dade County showing the BRT service planned on the east-west corridor of the SMART plan[/caption] Once inside the community, residents and workers will enjoy a master-planned walkable neighborhood with built-in traffic solutions, along with resiliency features. The goal is to also have a variety of residence sizes and price points within the neighborhood, catering to “all ages and audiences,” from students to seniors.
Sunbeam, controlled by the billionaire Ansin family and owner of TV station WSVN, won approval this month to build a massive walkable development in North Bay Village. As part of the approval, a construction permit must be applied for within two years. The project will include 7.3 million square feet, including 8-10 towers rising up to 650 feet, with: 1,936 residential units (117 will be workforce housing units) 200,000 square foot Class A HQ office building 300-room luxury hotel with sky restaurant and observation deck (Hyatt signed a letter expressing interest in operating the hotel) 670,000 square feet of commercial, with grocery store, restaurants, entertainment, and retail a small production studio a state-of-the-art marina 5,000 parking spaces University of Miami architecture students studied the property to help come up with a plan. The goal is to create a “15-minute city,” with essential needs within walking distance. A baywalk along the waterfront called Island Walk is planned. The developer also wants to build a pedestrian bridge across 79th street (the property spans both sides) and add a water taxi/ferry service. The developer told the SFBJ that the first phase will include two towers with 500 to 600 units, with ground floor grocery, restaurants and retail. Plusurbia is designing the project.
BY OMAR RODRÍGUEZ ORTIZ   For the last six years, Florida’s transportation agency has been looking into upgrading Little Havana’s main street, Calle Ocho, to boost safety, encourage alternative transportation and open better access to the Brickell area. Among the enhancements considered, but not adopted, for Southwest Eighth and Seventh streets — two main arteries consisting of six one-way lanes connecting Little Havana and Brickell — are bus lanes, bike lanes and wider sidewalks. Instead, the conclusion of the $3 million study that began in 2016 is a plan to leave the majority of the corridor alone, while adding car-centric modifications near Interstate 95 pending further evaluation, Florida Department of Transportation officials revealed Tuesday at a public information meeting at Miami Dade College’s campus in Little Havana. Calle Ocho falls under the agency’s jurisdiction because it’s a state road. FDOT’s cars-first approach proposals include: ▪ Widening the Interstate 95 southbound off-ramp at Southwest Seventh Street. ▪ Providing an eastbound to northbound left turn at Southwest Eight Street and Second Avenue intersection. ▪ Closing of Southwest Fourth Avenue at Seventh Street. ▪ Conversion to two-way traffic at Southwest Fourth and Third avenues between Southwest Sixth and Seventh streets. But several Miami residents who attended the meeting told FDOT leaders they want bike lanes. Carolina Flores, a tour guide who lives in Little Havana, said that a protected bike lane would benefit residents and tourists who ride bicycles and electric scooters. “We should be promoting other modes of transportation,” Flores said. Eric Barton, who lives in Miami, said the plan proposed only looks to further the movement of cars while ignoring other forms of transportation, like bicycles with their own lanes. “This is a plan that perpetuates a mistake,” Barton said. “We have a neighborhood that was built on the backs of immigrants and we put a six-lane highway through the middle of it.” In a four-year span from September 2018 to Aug. 31, Miami police have responded to at least four fatal crashes in the studied area of Southwest Seventh Street, and none on Calle Ocho, according to preliminary police data. In the most recent crash, a woman crossing Southwest Seventh Street at Fifth Avenue on March 14 was struck and killed by a car. Miami City Commissioner Joe Carollo, who represents Calle Ocho and surrounding areas, told the Miami Herald on Wednesday that the city is looking into potential locations where multi-level parking structures could be built. He said the City Commission should receive a report before the end of the year. These parking lots, Carollo said, could allow the city to expand sidewalks by eliminating street parking along Calle Ocho between 12th and 18th avenues. But he said bike-only lanes wouldn’t be used enough to alleviate traffic in the area. “We aren’t China,” Carollo said in Spanish. “This bicycle thing is a nice fairy tale.” At the heart of the issue, according to planner Juan Mullerat, who lives near Calle Ocho, is FDOT’s authority to have a final say on any modifications in the corridor. He said the solution is for Miami to take control of Calle Ocho like in 2014 when the city took over a large portion of Brickell Avenue from FDOT. Officials were frustrated with the inability to lower the speed limit and cull overgrown brush and trees. Read more at: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/little-havana/article265102319.html#storylink=cpy
West Palm Beach will be moving in a new direction as developers begin executing on a plan to remake an industrial neighborhood north of Downtown into a food and retail hub. The district, rebranded “Nora,” spans 40 acres in the environs of North Railroad Avenue, and will include 2 million square feet of residential and office development, as well as a hotel. The redevelopment is being led by NDT Development and Place Projects, which spearheaded the reshaping of Miami’s Wynwood district. Urban planning firm PlusUrbia had a hand in creating the major design elements as Downtown expands. Wheelock Street Capital is financing the venture with a budget of up $150 million for the first phase alone, Bloomberg reported.
upstatebizSC: Article February 24, 2022 Plusurbia, the Miami-based urban design group leading the Greenville Gateway master plan project, this week unveiled a reimagined gateway into downtown. Built on community input gathered over several days, the concepts include pedestrian-friendly pathways and greenspace, restaurants, entertainment, sports, and mixed-use developments. The plan was constructed around six key principles: connect, protect, calibrate, reinvest, enhance, and collaborate. The presentation followed four days of public charrettes and open studio hours, during which residents, elected officials, business leaders, and designers gathered to submit ideas. Plusurbia compiled the input into a set of initial concepts for the area that includes East North Street, the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, the Greenville County Law Enforcement Center, Lavinia Street, East Park Avenue, and the Pettigru Historic District. The project spearheaded by DOM360’s Robert and Jennifer Donovan collected 400 survey responses in addition to the input from the charrettes’ attendees. The designers from Plusurbia will continue to collect input from stakeholders via an online survey on the project website at GatewayGreenville.com. Over the next two months, the group will work closely with the city and county to ensure Plusurbia’s recommendations dovetail with the agencies’ current work. Plusurbia will provide recommendations to the City of Greenville by May with the goal of creating a report of stakeholders’ visions and desires for the area that can help guide decision-making for the Greenville Gateway’s future.
Urban planning group Plusurbia Design revealed what the future of the Greenville Gateway could become on Tues., Oct. 18. After a series of community meetings and a survey earlier this year (which received 479 responses), the urban design group designed a future look for specific areas of the corridor, including: Bon Secours Wellness Arena East North Street (at the end of I-385 + continuing past The Well) Pettigru Historic District Some of the most notable changes proposed include transforming East North Street with trees, bike lanes + additional apartments and shifting Bon Secours Wellness Arena’s entrance into a pedestrian-friendly entertainment hub with restaurants and outdoor space. The project, initiated by the owners of local automotive marketing agency DOM360, focuses on a specific corridor of Greenville between these streets: North Church Street East Washington Street Atlas Street Sunflower Street Richland Way Familiar places in this area include Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville’s Law Enforcement Center, and the Pettigru Historic District. Plusurbia Design will help develop and implement this vision with private + public funding, and with input from community leaders, organizations, and you.
WPTV: Article  October 27, 2021 WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Nora is the name of a comprehensive master plan for a neighborhood in West Palm Beach located south of Palm Beach Lakes Blvd and North of Quadrille Blvd. “Nora is accretive to the smart growth of Downtown West Palm Beach,” says Ned Grace. “As a team deeply rooted in the Palm Beach area, we are witnessing a readiness and desire for a new kind of neighborhood in West Palm Beach’s urban core. The tailwind from the migration of industry leaders from around the country is adding fuel to this new demand, and Nora is the missing piece of West Palm Beach’s Downtown.” “We believe this previously overlooked area of Downtown will become a treasured gem in West Palm Beach. Our responsibility is to work thoughtfully and systematically to ensure the mix of commercial and residential offerings achieves Nora’s potential,” says Joe Furst.
The Plusurbia team participated in this year's Florida APA Conference in Miami as exhibitors, presenters, and award recipients! Two recently completed projects were honored with awards: 2021 Award of Merit           Neighborhood Planning Category Wynwood Norte Community Vision Plan   Recipients: City of Miami Wynwood Community Enhancement Association PlusUrbia Design   2021 Award of Merit             Grassroots Initiative Category Shenandoah Historic Properties Inventory     Recipients: Dade Heritage Trust PlusUrbia Design   Please see additional photos from the conference below:  
Plusurbia's Andrew Georgiadis shares our experience with reforming cities through zoning reform in the prestigious urban design publication and podcast platform Somos Cidade. Read more about how we use planning instruments to achieve human-scale cities (in Portuguese) below: Já comum na realidade dos Estados Unidos, o Planned Unit Development (PUD) é visto como uma possibilidade para promover e acelerar mudanças pontuais na malha urbana de municípios do Brasil, criando espaços mais qualificados e diversificados. O instrumento é utilizado naquele país por incorporadores e desenvolvedores imobiliários para propor a modificação do zoneamento existente de lotes ou de grandes terrenos em determinados lugares. A partir desse modelo, é possível solicitar aos governos locais alterações na legislação de uma área para o uso misto do solo, implementação de empreendimentos – como bairros planejados –, melhorias na infraestrutura de uma região e ainda para aperfeiçoar ou introduzir ambientes públicos. “O PUD é empregado para aprovar um tipo de projeto que não cabe bem no zoneamento das prefeituras”, afirmou o arquiteto Andrew Georgiadis, em entrevista ao Somos Cidade. Andrew é diretor de Projetos do escritório PlusUrbia Design, com sede em Miami (EUA), e também professor da faculdade de Arquitetura da Universidade de Miami e presidente da Georgiadis Urban Design. To keep reading, click here.
Juan Mullerat will participate in the 12th Greencities & S-Moving 2021 Forum in Málaga, Spain, on September 29th. Juan's presentation will contribute to the Urban Intelligence Room presentation, under "Success stories in research, innovation and local entrepreneurship" section of the conference.     Per the conference website, Greencities & S-Moving 2021 is the place that brings together the leading prescribers in the field of urban management and mobility of the future.   For more information, visit greencitiesmalaga.com.   Follow updates on Twitter: twitter.com/https://twitter.com/forogreencities   For the complete program, visit: https://greencities.fycma.com/programa/?lang=en     
Plusurbia's Andrew Georgiadi's will participate in the webinar:How does urban zoning work in the US and what are the differences with BrazilDATE: Wednesday, July 7, 2021TIME: 7:30 pmHOSTFelipe CavalcanteCEO / Presidente de HonraMatx Academy / ADIT BrasilRegister here!Urban zoning is responsible for dividing a city into territorial zones and defining, individually, the regulations for the use and occupation of its land.In the most recent urban discussions, the construction of the zoning has a direct impact on public management and on the construction of communities. In addition to being aligned with the individual objectives of citizens, this control deals with an order that involves the pretensions of the public administration and directly affects the growth of urban centers.Under the command of Felipe Cavalcante (Matx Academy, ADIT Brasil and the Beyond the Curve podcast), the chat will review the concept applied to Brazilian logic, comparing it with the breadth of the problems and solutions of contemporary North American urbanization. 
BY JOEY FLECHAS MARCH 26, 2021 02:47 PM, UPDATED MARCH 26, 2021 03:57 PM A 1936 shotgun house on Charles Avenue in west Coconut Grove was one of the 50 wood-frame homes in the historically black neighborhood that had been proposed by the city of Miami for designation as a protected landmark. ANDRES VIGLUCCI MIAMI HERALD Miami commissioners on Thursday approved creation of a new taxing agency in West Coconut Grove, a historically Black neighborhood where proponents aim to spend future tax revenue on affordable housing and economic revitalization. The commission unanimously approved creation of the West Grove Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), a new semi-autonomous arm of the city government meant to fund anti-poverty initiatives using a portion of taxes from the area. Proponents argue that when managed correctly, CRAs can provide seed money that spurs private investment. To continue reading, please click here.
BY ANDRES VIGLUCCI MARCH 25, 2021 07:31 PM, UPDATED MARCH 26, 2021 09:32 AM .mcclatchy-embed{position:relative;padding:40px 0 56.25%;height:0;overflow:hidden;max-width:100%}.mcclatchy-embed iframe{position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%}  Residents and property owners in Wynwood's working-class residential enclave have re-branded, organized and developed a plan to cope with gentrification. BY WYNWOOD NORTE A grassroots plan aiming to save the struggling working-class neighborhood of Wynwood Norte from looming gentrification by spurring limited redevelopment won final and unanimous approval on Thursday from enthusiastic Miami commissioners, who have called it a model for other city neighborhoods besieged by real estate speculation. The 5-0 vote came five months after commissioners initially approved the Wynwood Norte Neighborhood Revitalization District, a special zoning plan seeking to corral development pressure to benefit the historic community, once a predominantly Puerto Rican residential enclave that’s been steadily losing residents and businesses for decades. To continue reading, please click here.    
WLRN 91.3 FM | By Daniel RiveroPublished February 24, 2021 at 1:40 PM ESTAs developers started to acquire chunks of land in the neighborhood, it seemed that a familiar pattern was about to play out. A Miami commission vote on Thursday is set to determine the future of the neighborhood.A decade of fast-forwarded development in Wynwood has converted what used to be the partially-residential neighborhood into a bustling mix of bars, restaurants and the occasional art studio.That’s the Wynwood south of NW 29th Street.Continue reading here.
Miami commissioners are scheduled to vote this week on upzoning an area called Wynwood Norte.It is the second and final commission vote, after it unanimously passed a first reading in October. The second reading vote is scheduled for February 25.The Wynwood Norte Neighborhood Revitalization District is being created at the request of residents of the area who want to better control gentrification, according to an October article in the Herald.The plan for Wynwood Norte includes:Increasing zoning density with up to 9,000 more residential units than currently allowed (the current population of the area is around 4,000)Requiring a 10 percent set aside for affordable housing in exchange for the increased densityDevelopers would also fund shade trees, sidewalks, lighting, in addition to affordable housingForbidding demolition unless a new construction permit has been issuedRules to discourage lot assemblages, and encourage smaller scale developmentThe area encompasses 140 acres, or around 29 city blocks.Plusurbia Design created the plan. Please click here to read the full article.
Plusurbia's mobility expert, David Soto, participated in a forum convened by the Dominican College of Engineers, Architects and Surveyors (CODIA) with the topic of Universal Mobility and Accessibility, with the support of the Latin American Road Safety Association and sponsored by the CDN of Civil Engineers and the Sustainable Mobility Chapter. David discussed the progress made on this issue in Puerto Rico and Florida where we advance cycling infrastructure and public transport projects.Listen to the conversation at any time here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkM9W5HKZas&feature=youtu.be
Plusurbia's mobility expert, David Soto, participated as a panelist at Sagrado Verde's Conservatory on Environment and Mobility with Virtual Youth. The discussion focused on bicycle mobility and its role as a driver of sustainability in San Juan and Puerto Rico.See a video of the panel here: https://www.facebook.com/sagradoverdepr/videos/
Andrew Georgiadis participated in the 2nd Brazilian Congress of Architecture of Happiness.To dream is to build the future in the present. What makes them so audacious is that they can be realized, Le Corbusier said. That is why we are presenting to you, the 2nd Brazilian Congress of Architecture of Happiness, which will take place from the 23rd to the 30th of November. There will be 8 days of lectures and reflections with more than 50 presentations with experts from 13 countries. Everything translated for your tranquility.And the cool thing is that the recordings will be free for you for 6 months.Sign up now at www.arquiteturadafelicidade.org.See the video of the conference at the link below. To watch Andrew's presentation, skip to 2:27:15.2nd Brazilian Congress of Architecture of Happiness - Sala 02 Inglês - Dia 7
It fills us with pride to have been outlined as experts in cyclist mobility in Ciclosfera Magazine. Biggest thanks to Muévete en Bici Puerto Rico and the cyclist community for continuing to elevate our archipelago's presence as a cycling-tourism destination at the global forum..Read the article here: https://www.ciclosfera.com/…/ciclosfera-31-invierno-2019-2…/
Plusurbia's Juan Mullerat participated in the South Florida Community Development Coalition (SFCDC) 2020 Small Scale Development Program on Thursday, November 19th from 11-11:30 am. The session covers affordability in Miami. Please see the agenda to learn about the other speakers and sessions featured.The SFCDC is a nonprofit membership organization established in 2007 that is dedicated to building communities and developing assets in Miami-Dad County. The Small Scale Development Program is intended to provide training, mentoring, and networking to small scale developers and community development professionals in Miami-Dade County on best practices. The program is also equity focused, striving to empower minority developers to take a leadership role in developing their communities.
The City of Miami passed the historic zoning overlay to mitigate displacement and encourage small incremental affordable development in the Wynwood Norte neighborhood in Miami. This is an important first step to keep our city resilient.To learn more about the project, please visit:Wynwood Norte[caption id="attachment_4205" align="alignleft" width="829"] A community collaboration envisions Wynwood Norte that accommodates development that is compatible with the old Miami neighborhood. PLUSURBIA DESIGN[/caption]Related articles:THE MIAMI HERALDTo fight gentrification, a working-class Miami enclave wins plan to spur developmentSOUTH FLORIDA BUSINESS JOURNALRezoning moves forward for area north of Miami's WynwoodPLANETIZENRevitalization Without Displacement: A New Model From Miami 
Plusurbia's Megan McLaughlin contributed to the latest issue of Downtown News where she addressed the importance of historic preservation and more specifically, her work in preserving the grand Central Baptist Church on NE First Avenue.Issue 2 Volume 4. November 2020Historic Preservation I Raul GuerreroMiami has great historic buildings. One is the Central Baptist Church which parallels the very history of Miami. Built in 1926 in neoclassical grandeur by the Memphis firm of Dougherty and Gardner, it has undergone a complete rehabilitation, explained preservationist Megan McLaughlin of PlusUrbia, who serves as adviser and liaison for permitting with the city. Given that she is an expert in historic preservation, we start by addressing characteristics of downtown historic architecture?Megan McLaughlin: Buildings from the 1920s are distinctive because they are very large. There was such a boom going on in the 1920s. Miami buildings were taller, more robust, than those in Palm Beach, Orlando and other municipalities in Florida. Because of the nature of architecture in that period, and up to the 1960s, buildings were more humane, designed for people to inhabit them, to experience them..."Older buildings were more about the human experience."Downtown News: You mean today’s buildings aren’t as humane?MM: Yes. Today they build with a different audience in mind. They have other requirements, which might not be so much human interaction. They have to house a lot of cars and that changes the nature and feeling of the building. Sometimes they build for impressiveness, to be viewed from across the Bay or from I95. It’s almost like advertisement, not so much to experience the building as a person from the street or inside. Older buildings were more about the human experience.To continue reading and to access the digital version of the November issue of Downtown News, please click below:Downtown News November digital edition
BY CATHY LEFFSEPTEMBER 27, 2020 08:04 PM , UPDATED 11 HOURS 58 MINUTES AGO[caption id="attachment_4205" align="alignnone" width="940"] A community collaboration envisions Wynwood Norte that accommodates development that is compatible with the old Miami neighborhood. PLUSURBIA DESIGN[/caption]In September 2019, the Wynwood Community Enhancement Association (WCEA) created a Community Vision Plan for Wynwood Norte after more than a year of meetings as a community-driven, participatory initiative. Bringing together diverse familiar and new stakeholders, we were united to improve the quality of life for the neighborhood. Recognizing increasing development pressures from surrounding areas, we knew doing nothing was not an option. We sought to address existing area conditions, while envisioning our collective desire to preserve and revitalize one of Miami’s oldest and most beloved urban neighborhoods.Click here to read the rest of the article: Miami can help Wynwood Norte adapt to future growth while preserving its past | Opinion Cathy Leff is Bakehouse Art Complex acting director and member of the Board of Directors of the Wynwood Community Enhancement Association (WCEA). She wrote this on behalf of Yoni Bornstein, WCEA president, and board members Asi Cymbal, Arnold Melgar, Robin Vasquez, Wil Vasquez and Julie Williamson.
Plusurbia's Andrew Georgiadis participated in the SmartusPlay panel on Agrihoods on Friday, September 25th.Agrihoods: Why is this concept transforming real estate ventures?Listen here!Have you heard about Agrihoods? An agrihood is a kind of residential condominium specially designed to integrate the cultivation of plants and food into the home.To discuss the benefits that the model brings to real estate developments, we will receive 4 special guests:Participants:- Marcos Egydio, General Director, Grupo Itahyê- Andrew Georgiadis, Project Director, PlusUrbia Design- Márcia Mikai, Founder, Pentagrama- Rafael Andrade, Commercial Vice-President, Captalys
Plusurbia's Juan Mullerat is excited to be a part of Friends of The Underline's fifth Miami Voices virtual discussion, Miami Voices Living, together next week. See below for more info!Miami Voices Living, togetherWed Jul 29, 1:00 p.m.Tune in at 1 PM on Wednesday, July 29th for our fifth Miami Voices episode: Living, together, a 20-minute rapid-fire, virtual discussion about how can changes in the way we design housing make us more resilient.--Moderated by Andrew Quarrie, founder, Urblandia, guests Juan Mullerat, founding principal, Plusurbia Design, and Hernan Guerrero, founder, Geo-Urban Consulting.--About Miami Voices: From a global pandemic to racial equity, the past 4 months have tested the resiliency of communities throughout the world while forcing us to look at critical issues. These issues are wide-ranging from public health, to affordability, equity, and mobility. How will we respond to these issues? Will we change our behaviors long term? And is there the possibility of a silver lining?--Each week we will discuss a different topic with community leaders and subject experts talking about Miami and change. Miami Voices is a free, pre-recorded program produced by Friends of The Underline and aired on Facebook Live.--Also, Miami Voices is brought to you by the Friends of The Underline team. Our goal is to help build a stronger community with people-focused, authentic, and organic conversations that empower, engage, and connect. Sign up here to watch:Register
Calle Ocho risks losing many businesses if the government does not allow for expanded outdoor seating by using parking lanes and closing streets.Brianna LopezJuly 8, 2020Little Havana business owners are finding themselves at an extreme loss of business as the COVID-19 pandemic continues for longer than anyone expected it to. For months, Calle Ocho has been clear of the tourists and visitors that would usually flood the streets because of the mandated shutdowns of many businesses, in addition to the closure of dining rooms in restaurants. Businesses have suffered tremendous losses because of the lack of foot traffic on the Calle Ocho strip.Calle Ocho is a South Florida pillar that thrives on tourism, travel, and restaurants. Many of the restaurants are family-owned, run by generations of families who began their journey to Miami when they immigrated from Cuba in the 1960s. These people know what it is like to start from nothing and have worked all of their lives to build their businesses, pouring blood, sweat, and tears into the restaurants and shops that tourists love to visit.To read the complete article, please click here.
BY ANDRES VIGLUCCIJUNE 14, 2020 06:00 AM [caption id="attachment_4104" align="alignnone" width="960"] An outside view of Brickell City Centre in Miami, Florida on Tuesday, January 7, 2020. MATIAS J. OCNER MOCNER@MIAMIHERALD.COM[/caption]It brought Miami the intensely urban, work-play lifestyle and animated sidewalks and cafes of Brickell. It brought street-embracing retail centers to what had been a shopping desert. Welcoming, pedestrian-friendly towers with concealed parking — or no parking at all — to downtown Miami, including one instant architectural masterwork. New public green spaces and waterfront promenades to the banks of the Miami River and the bay’s edge in Edgewater. And jazzy, rejuvenated MiMo motels on Biscayne Boulevard.Can a simple zoning code — the rules that govern what can be built, and where, and how big it can be — transform a city?If that code is Miami 21, a once-radical-seeming set of development regulations adopted by the city 11 years ago amid widespread skepticism, the evidence seems to support an emphatic Yes.Now, just over a decade on, the city is undertaking a fresh look at Miami 21. This week, after a five-month delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the city formally launched a special task force of experts and residents charged with substantially revising the code and tackling new goals that weren’t on the front burner when it was enacted in 2009.Chief among those: Finding ways to promote development of critically needed affordable housing, figuring out new rules for developing projects to meet sea-level rise, reviewing the adequacy of existing zoning for specific city neighborhoods, and addressing issues of equity and gentrification that Miami 21 may have inadvertently helped fuel.Almost certainly, the task force’s 12 members — a mix of architects and planners, developers, land-use lawyers and residents — will wrestle with how, or whether, to limit the massive and sometimes controversial Miami 21 Special Area Plan projects that have become flashpoints of community opposition.Although the city’s planning board last year called for doing away with the so-called SAPs entirely, city officials want to refine them. Experts say that could be done by increasing community participation while curbing density or building heights to ensure the projects are compatible with surrounding neighborhoods.[caption id="attachment_4106" align="alignnone" width="960"] A Starbucks on the ground floor of a residential building in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood opens directly to the sidewalk in pedestrian-friendly fashion under a template set by the city’s 10-year-old Miami 21 zoning code. CHARLES TRAINOR JR CTRAINOR@MIAMIHERALD.COM[/caption]SAPs have won both praise and scorn.The SAP section of Miami 21 was intended to sensitively guide large-scale development on at least nine acres through negotiations between developers and city planners. It led to the creation of the Brickell City Centre, the shopping, hotel, office and residential complex on several blocks of long-vacant land on the south side of the Miami River. It also allowed the transformation of the once-forlorn Miami Design District into an uber-luxury, pedestrian-friendly urban shopping and cultural district. But distressed, low-income Little Haiti could end up sandwiched in between two mammoth, not-yet-built SAP developments that have already been blamed for rampant land speculation, rising residential rents and small-business evictions in the neighborhood.Although the Miami 21 code has been amended several times, the city has not conducted the sort of thorough assessment that its designers at the Miami planning firm Duany Plater-Zyberk envisioned would occur every few years to adapt to a changing world.“The city has evolved tremendously since the inception of Miami 21,” Miami City Manager Art Noriega told the task force during the inaugural meeting, which was conducted virtually. “This is something we probably should have started some time back.”Under a resolution adopted by the Miami commission, the task force will meet at least monthly and issue a report with recommended revisions or additions by December to city commissioners.The questions the task force should explore, say its members and Miami 21 principal author Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, take on added dimensions in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.One consideration: should the prospect of subsequent waves of infection or new epidemics justify requirements for greater setbacks and open space at the street level around buildings? That requirement would allow for maximum air circulation and space for social distancing, including separated cafe tables and wider sidewalks, they said.Another factor: Will decreased use of formal offices, or a greater need for working from home, produce a greater need for live-work housing that combines residential space with businesses or office space?Even questions over the continued desirability of increased urban density to foster city life should be on the table after coronavirus spread rapidly in close urban quarters like New York City, they say.“Wider sidewalks and fewer or narrower traffic lanes, wellness and equity questions, and rethinking of public space — the amount of it, the dimensions of it — would certainly be appropriate in light of world health,” said Plater-Zyberk. She stressed she has not kept up with the code’s use closely and is not involved in the revision effort.When it comes to affordable housing, there’s only so much a zoning code can do to spur affordable housing short of requiring it — something elected officials have resisted and may now be barred by a new state statute, experts say. Plater-Zyberk said Miami 21 could nonetheless provide greater incentives than it does now to developers. It could offer more capacity to build in exchange for strict commitments to including affordable or workforce housing in projects — though she warned those must be carefully calibrated.But she said Miami 21’s basic precepts have more than proven themselves.To promote walkability, activity and good urban design, the code bars visible parking or loading areas, requiring those be concealed behind screens or “liners” consisting of apartments, offices and shops. It requires “habitable space” at street level and lots of clear glass at sidewalk level, plus working doors and entryways, to make walking easy and alluring.The best SAPs, meanwhile, allowed developers and planners flexibility to arrange new buildings in innovative, cohesive ways that a strict adherence to Miami 21 would not permit. But Plater-Zyberk said city planners may have interpreted some SAP rules too liberally.One goal of SAPs is to allow planners and developers to depart from Miami 21 rules to amass density and height in sections of the property to create variety and open spaces across the site. Instead, at times, developers were allowed to increase density across the board in exchange for providing open spaces and other public benefits, she said.That could be fixed with a tweak of the rules, she said.[caption id="attachment_4103" align="alignnone" width="960"] Visitors stroll along Paseo Ponti on the reopening day of the Miami Design District on Wednesday, May 20. MIAMI DESIGN DISTRICT[/caption]“We got some special places out of that,” said Plater-Zyberk, whose firm drew up the master plan for the revamped Design District. “And then, I think, the fact that so many of the big buildings have been built with doors and windows at the street level instead of parking garages was important.”LONG DEBATEMiami 21, proposed in 2005 by then-Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, was shaped through years of intense public meetings, contested hearings and some determined opposition. It finally was approved by the Miami commission in 2009, just as development ground to a virtual halt amid a deep world recession.The new code represented a sharp departure from its predecessor, which strictly separated uses like housing, office and commercial — a suburban concept that critics say led to dead streets, a dying downtown and commercial districts without the foot traffic necessary to sustain them. It also produced jarring contrasts like massive parking garages, ramps and blank walls on important streets, and towers looming over single family homes. The complex and often ambiguous rules also lent themselves to manipulation by developers and their attorneys, critics charged.When construction finally restarted post-Recession with a vengeance, it was on the new, urban template of Miami 21. It’s been in place during one of the most extensive and long-lasting waves of development in city history.A variant of what’s known as a form-based code, Miami 21 regulates the shape of buildings and how they meet the street to create lively urban places through clear diagrams. The code won awards and attention across the country. Some other cities adopted similar strategies, most notably Denver, today widely regarded as another example of a revitalized pedestrian-friendly urban center.A key advance wrought by Miami 21 was its fostering of mixed uses within a single building or project in dense urban areas. Unlike the strict separation under the old model that requires driving from one place to the other, mixing uses puts living, working, shopping and recreation all within a close, walkable environment.That Miami 21 model helped transform Brickell from a district of sterile sidewalks to a magnet for young professionals, cafes and restaurants and workplaces that would have been difficult, if not illegal, to achieve under the previous code. Once rundown areas such as Edgewater and Biscayne Boulevard were overhauled through redevelopment on the Miami 21 template into sought-after neighborhoods.“People started noticing right away the fact that streets were becoming nicer,” Plater-Zyberk recalled. “I think there are a lot of obvious good impacts, from the low-rise bank on the corner that before would have put a parking lot out in front, to a more pedestrian-friendly streetscape.”Planning consultant and urban designer Juan Mullerat, a member of the current Miami 21 task force, said much of the code’s success lay in advancing sophisticated goals in simple terms.“It’s created better walkable human architecture. It has been able to humanize the public realm,” Mullerat, who worked for a year at Plater-Zyberk’s firm while the code was being developed, said. “The biggest strength of Miami 21 is its ability to put in simple terms some very complicated planning concepts. At the end of the day, it’s an approachable code.”Miami 21 also embraced some innovative ideas. It promotes preservation of historic buildings and places by allowing their owners to sell unused building rights to developers in high-density districts like Edgewater or Brickell, while plowing the proceeds into renovations. That transfer of development rights program gave new life to the iconic Vagabond and other historic motels in the MiMo district along Biscayne Boulevard in the city’s Upper East Side.[caption id="attachment_4107" align="alignnone" width="960"] The renovated Vagabond Motel is now open for guests. CARL JUSTE MIAMI HERALD STAFF[/caption]It also allows developers of residential buildings near transit stations to reduce parking on site, or eschew it completely, to reduce auto dependency and bolster use of public transportation.It also instituted a program of “public benefits’’ in which developers pay into city funds for affordable housing, parks and transportation improvements in exchange for “bonus” capacity to build. Plater-Zyberk said the city should assess and track benefits collected so far to see how effective the program has been as part of the Miami 21 review — and tweak the rules if necessary.One prominent condo developer, Related Group executive vice president Carlos Rosso, said Miami 21 could do more to “incentivize” builders to expand green and open spaces in and around their projects. Related was among the earliest to seize on Miami 21’s public benefits requirements, persuading the city to swap a piece of a dead-end street in Edgewater for a small public waterfront park and baywalk the developer built as part of its Icon Bay condo project.[caption id="attachment_4102" align="alignnone" width="960"] The Related Group’s Icon Bay condo tower in Miami’s Edgewater neighborhood includes a public park on Biscayne Bay built under the city’s Miami 21 zoning code. ROBIN HILL COURTESY THE RELATED GROUP[/caption]“We also opened up some additional streets, and now suddenly this park is connected to three streets,” Rosso said. “You go there in the afternoon, and it’s a small neighborhood focal point. People can meet, take their dogs, take their kids to play on the grass.”While Miami 21 strengthened requirements for developers of new projects on the bay and river to include public promenades, Rosso said it should go further to encourage creative approaches like that at Icon Bay. Related and other stakeholders have been pushing the city to fully connect the baywalk from the Design District south to Maurice Ferre Park in downtown Miami, a concept they call the Biscayne Line.The missing pieces of the long-contemplated baywalk could be completed if the code includes measures to encourage building associations and property owners to provide a connection now — perhaps using floating or suspended promenades in cases where lots are built out to the bay’s edge — even if they don’t intend to redevelop immediately. Those incentives could take the shape of credits against future fees, Rosso suggested.LESS PARKING?Echoing others, Rosso also said the task force should explore further easing minimum parking requirements, which critics say increase construction and housing costs and contribute to traffic congestion. Eliminating those requirements, though, isn’t feasible without transit improvements that a zoning code can’t mandate, he said.“We need to improve public transportation to get rid of the parking,” said Rosso, who added Related is communicating with city planners to offer input on Miami 21.The parking requirements also play into one gaping area where numerous experts and developers say Miami 21 has been ineffective: Encouraging needed, affordable and modestly scaled infill housing in neighborhoods like Little Havana. Though it’s dotted with scores of vacant lots, Miami 21 regulations make it difficult if not impossible for property owners to build the kind of small apartment buildings that could make a real dent in the city’s housing crisis, the critics say.That’s because a typical, narrow city lot can’t easily accommodate required on-site parking and car access while hewing to low-density zoning in some residential areas. As a result, critics note, very little has been built in those neighborhoods under Miami 21.“Essentially they are undevelopable,” Mullerat said.The lack of that kind of modestly scaled neighborhood development, called the “missing middle” — that is, a homey scale between high-rise projects and single family homes that’s the backbone of many traditional cities — is a national problem, experts say. That’s in part because banks and the development industry are geared to more-profitable big development, they said.But tweaking the rules to make it easier to develop those lots would spread prosperity by allowing small entrepreneurs to build, Mullerat said. What any revisions to Miami 21 must avoid, he said, is giving developers more capacity to develop without ensuring real community improvements. That’s something he said has happened in neighborhoods like Coconut Grove, where the city has allowed construction of oversized homes that erase local character and, in the case of the historically black West Grove section, push longtime residents out.“We have tools at our disposal as planners. Any change in the zoning needs to be equitable and it needs to be community driven,” Mullerat said. “A rezoning affects the surrounding property values, the living conditions and the identity of a whole neighborhood.”Some of those tensions between big development and its community impact reared up in the first task force hearing, intended as an organizational meeting.The three land-use attorneys appointed to the panel did not participate in the meeting at the suggestion of the city attorney’s office amid questions over whether their inclusion on the task force might constitute a prohibited conflict of interest under state law. All three are registered to act as lobbyists for dozens of developers seeking waivers and city zoning and development approvals under Miami 21.The city is awaiting rulings from the Miami-Dade County and Florida ethics commissions, assistant city attorney Amber Ketterer said. A complaint from a city resident triggered a Miami-Dade review, according to a June 4 email to the city from ethics commission executive director Jose Arrojo.[caption id="attachment_4105" align="alignnone" width="960"] The 1000 Museum luxury condo tower on Biscayne Boulevard in downtown Miami was designed by late famed architect Zaha Hadid under the city’s Miami 21 zoning code. CHARLES TRAINOR JR CTRAINOR@MIAMIHERALD.COM[/caption]One of the three attorneys, Iris Escarra of Greenberg Traurig, praised the code in an interview before Wednesday’s meeting for helping produce what she considers some of the finest architecture in the city’s history. She singled out the undulating 1000 Museum luxury condo tower by late famed British architect Zaha Hadid on Biscayne Boulevard in downtown Miami, which she helped shepherd to approval.“If you look at the buildings that have developed over the last 10 years under Miami 21, some have stunning architecture,” she said.“Miami 21 as a zoning code has allowed for that sort of creative architecture to come in and allow for city skyline to be enhanced. What the code has done is made everyone focus on how the building relates to its environment,” Escarra said. “The code has activated many streets that before could have been a wall with an entry, and that’s it.“It is designed and intended to engage everything around you.”To view the article on the Miami Herald page, please click here.
Plusurbia's Manuel de Lemos and David Soto authored a piece regarding the high traffic volumes and speeds in Rincón, Puerto Rico, for El Coquí of Rincón Magazine. The article, "Rethinking Rincón's Pace," calls for rethinking mobility in Rincón. It advocates for proper investments in multimodal streets and emphasizes a community's need for access to safe streets, free from the risk of transit at dangerous speeds, and with universal access to people of all ages and abilities.Unfortunately, the need to mitigate the danger from speeding vehicles was highlighted when a tragic accident occurred in the area on June 10, 2020, in which one person died when a conductor lost control of their vehicle and crashed into an eating establishment where the victim was seated.Please follow the links below to access the news articles about the incident:El Vocero Puerto RicoTelemundo Puerto RicoBelow, the article published in El Coquí of Rincón magazine:
Plusurbia's Juan Mullerat participated in an online panel presented by Miami Center for Architecture & Design (MCAD).Catch it here if you missed it!See more information below:Urban Re-Design? Cities Post COVIDDate: 06/05/2020Time: 12:00 pmDescription:  The Miami Center for Architecture & Design is the place for everyone interested in design and the built environment, with community meeting space and educational programs to enhance public appreciation for architecture and design.MCAD houses flexible exhibit/gallery space that accommodates lectures, seminars and meetings, space for urban lab studios and flex meeting rooms.
El uso de bicicletas y vehículos sin motor repunta como opción rápida y segura para ir de un punto a otroPor Gerardo E. Alvarado Leónsábado, 30 de mayo de 2020 - 11:40 PM[caption id="attachment_4047" align="alignnone" width="940"] Los carriles exclusivos se crearían con elementos removibles, como drones anaranjados, vallas o conos, entre otros, que separen los autos de los peatones y ciclistas. (Shutterstock.com)[/caption]A nuestra audiencia: El Nuevo Día te ofrece acceso libre de costo a su cobertura noticiosa relacionada con el COVID-19. Si quieres apoyar nuestra misión de brindarte información verdadera, pertinente y útil ahora y después de la emergencia, te exhortamos a suscribirte en suscripciones.elnuevodia.com.En momentos en que más sectores de la economía reabren y el gobierno insiste en las medidas de distanciamiento social para frenar los contagios de COVID-19, el uso de bicicletas, monopatines y vehículos no motorizados repunta como alternativa de movilidad rápida y segura, particularmente en las ciudades.Con eso en mente, la organización Muévete en Bici Puerto Rico y la firma de diseño urbano Plusurbia Design unieron esfuerzos y elaboraron recomendaciones para la movilidad urbana, que procuran –en esencia– expandir las áreas y espacios para quienes se transportan sin auto durante las distintas fases de reapertura.La propuesta principal es la designación de carriles exclusivos o ciclovías.Aunque las recomendaciones son ideales para contextos urbanos, portavoces de ambas entidades indicaron que podrían implantarse en cualquier municipio, sujeto al desarrollo de un plan de movilidad. En esa línea, resaltaron que las sugerencias están alineadas al Plan Comprensivo de Peatones y Bicicletas de Puerto Rico, adoptado, en 2018, por el Departamento de Transportación y Obras Públicas (DTOP) y la Autoridad de Carreteras y Transportación (ACT).“Para usar la bicicleta necesitamos vías seguras, y eso es lo que estamos promoviendo. En Puerto Rico, cuando se decretó el ‘lockdown’ (cierre forzoso), muchas empresas dejaron de funcionar y se detuvo el transporte público, pero en otros países no. Lo que hicieron fue reducir el número de pasajeros y fomentar el uso de la bicicleta; hubo países que se las regalaron o prestaron a sus ciudadanos”, resaltó la fundadora de Muévete en Bici Puerto Rico, Ylenia González.El portavoz del DTOP, Alex Castro, confirmó el recibo de las recomendaciones y que están “en proceso de evaluación”. Ciclovías temporalesEn opinión de David Soto, jefe de la División de Movilidad de Plusurbia Design, los carriles exclusivos o ciclovías temporales se convertirían en extensiones de las aceras, que no garantizan el espacio recomendado de seis pies de distancia para evitar los contagios con el coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, que causa COVID-19.A su vez, las ciclovías proveerían una infraestructura segura para quienes no tienen auto o aquellos a los que el desempleo –debido a la pandemia– no les permita seguir costeando los gastos de mantenimiento de su vehículo individual.González y Soto explicaron que los carriles se crearían con “elementos removibles”, como drones anaranjados, vallas o conos, entre otros, que separen los autos de los peatones y ciclistas. Aseguraron que se trata de una alternativa de bajo costo y fácil implantación. Además, al ser removibles, dan la oportunidad de colocarse, por ejemplo, en horarios y días específicos y sacarse posteriormente, según las necesidades del municipio.“Estamos hablando de proveer una alternativa para que la gente pueda seguir moviéndose. Hemos visto un incremento en la gente con bicicleta, y lo que necesitamos es que se cree un carril para asegurar que puedan llegar al trabajo, supermercado o practicar recreativamente en el horario permitido”, dijo González.Como beneficio adicional, Soto mencionó que las ciclovías “liberan las calles” de las emisiones de los autos que agravan el sistema respiratorio y, al mismo tiempo, promueven la actividad física, que redunda en una mejor salud mental y un sistema inmunológico fortalecido. “Vemos esto como una respuesta de salud pública a una crisis de salud pública”, acotó. Rutas “centrales”En cuanto a la elección de rutas, señalaron que deben ser “centrales”, a fin de alcanzar los lugares cuya reapertura ya se autorizó y los que reanudarán operaciones en las próximas fases. Recomendaron que sean parte de las rutas más usadas por el transporte colectivo y que provean acceso directo a los comercios locales, por ejemplo, restaurantes.También, las ciclovías deberían crearse en carreteras con más de un carril para no interrumpir el tráfico de autos, que ha disminuido debido al cierre de escuelas y universidades y el aumento de personas trabajando desde sus hogares.Muévete en Bici Puerto Rico y Plusurbia Design realizaron una encuesta entre usuarios de bicicletas –a través de redes sociales– para conocer no solo la deseabilidad de su propuesta, sino también para identificar potenciales ciclovías, específicamente en San Juan.De ese ejercicio, resultó que el primer carril exclusivo para bicicletas, monopatines y vehículos no motorizados debe crearse en la avenida Ponce de León, que conecta a las comunidades del casco urbano de Río Piedras con Hato Rey, Santurce y Miramar.“La avenida Ponce de León conecta con la ciclovía que ya existe en San Juan y, por eso, se recomendó un carril ahí como primera fase. Luego, (se haría) en las calles que conecten con esa vía por las que pasa el transporte público y en las que hay hospitales, supermercados, farmacias, escuelas y agencias”, dijo González.Como segunda fase, se recomiendan ciclovías para las avenidas que intersecan la Ponce de León: De Diego (Santurce y Río Piedras; PR-37 y PR-47), Gándara y Domenech. La tercera fase incluye las avenidas Barbosa y Ana G. Méndez.Soto mencionó que países como Alemania, Argentina, Bélgica, Canadá, Colombia, Ecuador, Francia, Inglaterra, Italia, México, Nueva Zelanda y Perú han creado ciclovías temporales tras la declaración de la pandemia de COVID-19.Estados Unidos y Canadá también son parte de la tendencia. En ambos países, detalló, 49 ciudades han creado estos carriles y 39 han ajustado sus operaciones de transporte colectivo, según datos de la entidad Smart Growth America. “Esta es una alternativa para reducir pasajeros del transporte público… es una estrategia de gestión de transportación”, declaró. Recomendaciones adicionalesGonzález y Soto expusieron que “lo ideal” es que sus recomendaciones sean acompañadas de cierres de algunas calles en los cascos urbanos, lo que les permitiría a los restaurantes abrir y utilizar los espacios para colocar mesas separadas. Los clientes podrían llegar caminando o en bicicleta hasta los establecimientos.En Estados Unidos y Canadá, según Smart Growth America, 21 ciudades están prescribiendo estrategias para apoyar a pequeños comerciantes con zonas de recogido y entrega, así como la ubicación de sillas y meses al aire libre en espacios que solían ser estacionamientos.González contó, entretanto, que durante el pasado año colaboró con el Municipio de Caguas en la implantación de una ordenanza que estableció una ciclovía temporal. Hasta justo antes de que entrara en vigor el cierre forzoso por el COVID-19, un tramo –de una milla– en la avenida José Mercado se cerraba, todos los últimos domingos de mes, por cuatro horas.“La avenida tiene cuatro carriles y se cerraban todos para que las familias o individuos vinieran a correr, caminar, tomar clases y hacer otro tipo de actividades. Venía mucha gente de otros pueblos, porque era una zona segura para practicar el ejercicio y recuperar la salud”, dijo.González y Soto manifestaron estar disponibles para trabajar con los municipios en proyectos demostrativos. Además, instaron al gobierno central a facilitar los permisos para esos y otros proyectos de “urbanismo atractivo”. Una nueva ciudadPara el planificador urbano y arquitecto Pedro Cardona Roig, la propuesta de Muévete en Bici Puerto Rico y Plusurbia Design refleja cómo deben ser las nuevas políticas de transportación pospandemia.“Hay un aspecto fundamental que ha estado malamente atendido por décadas: el espacio y las necesidades del peatón”, dijo el también exvicepresidente de la Junta de Planificación. Añadió que, en estos días, es tema de conversación en foros internacionales cómo lograr que la infraestructura que –por años– estuvo dedicada “de manera monofuncional al uso del auto” se dedique o combine con otros sistemas de movilidad, como bicicletas, monopatines o rutas para andar a pie.En esa “perspectiva de futuro”, recalcó, el sistema de transporte público y los espacios peatonales son “esenciales”, y ambas áreas han sido históricamente desatendidas en la isla.Reconoció, por otro lado, que las ciclovías “no son una opción” para personas con problemas de movilidad o de edad avanzada, entre otros grupos que dependen del transporte público para ir de un lugar a otro. En esa línea, sugirió que el futuro del transporte colectivo sea con vehículos más pequeños que permitan reducir los viajes, que haya lectores de temperatura, mayor de protección para los conductores y que se reduzcan los tiempos de abordaje y descarga de pasajeros.“A lo que debemos aspirar es a estar bien servidos en un radio caminable. Pero eso supera, por mucho, las posibilidades de Puerto Rico porque carecemos de elementos básicos, y este es buen momento para tener la conversación sobre cómo cambiar”, indicó Cardona Roig. Para leer artículo en línea por favor haga click aquí.
A healthy city calibrates and makes room for mobility changes on their streets over time to encourage low-tech safe and accessible options to move around. It needs to provide more balanced mobility options by reconsidering the amount of space for cars, pedestrians, bicycles, and transit - accommodating new technologies and trends.
Plusurbia's Andrew Georgiadis participated in a panel hosted by ADIT Brasil on Wednesday, May 28, called Live4 PandeBuilding as a series of PandeBuilding or 'Building Cities in or after the pandemic' conducted by Saulo Suassuna, President of Molegolar, a Brazilian Development Firm headquartered in Recife.The panelists were Mauricio Duarte Pereira of Jan Gehl, Copenhagen, Margarida Caldeira, Chair of the Americas Board and Broadway Malyan, from Lisbon (also discussed experiences from the Shanghai office), and Andrew Georgiadis, of PlusUrbia, Sarasota/Miami Florida.The topics included the immediate effects of lockdown and disruptions upon business, schools, purchases, and day to day life and how architecture and urban design was thwarting or helping efforts to adapt to the new constraints.  Then, the panelists discussed needed reforms to the built environment, including repurposing public spaces, rediscovery of vernacular building techniques, and how mixed-use and flexible building types will be increasingly relevant.Listen to the panel discussion below!
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