April 26, 2018 Coral Gables News

The Makeover Took Forever. Now A Classic South Florida Street Has Finally Re-opened

Source: Miami Herald

By: Andres Viglucci

Photo by: Coral Gables Business Improvement District

Hard to believe, but after two years of messy construction, street and sidewalk closures, contractor disputes, lost business and unfathomable delay, the ambitious Miracle Mile makeover is finished. Coral Gables’ main drag, one of South Florida’s signature shopping streets, is finally and fully open for business again.

Now comes the real test: Whether the $24 million that Gables taxpayers and downtown property owners invested in the design-heavy streetscape reconstruction will draw the promised crowds to revive the Mile, which had lost its shine amid cracked, worn sidewalks, lackluster shopping and stiff competition from other resurgent South Florida urban centers.

As the city and the downtown Gables business improvement district get ready to dedicate the new-look Mile with a sidewalk celebration on Saturday evening, it’s much too early to predict success. But backers say so far, so good.

Miracle Mile’s dramatically wider sidewalks and its fresh, modern look have already sparked renewed life along the street, they say — especially after dark and on weekends, when residents and visitors come to dine and then stroll around to check out the enhanced ambience. Some dining spots that have taken advantage of the extra space to add sidewalk cafe tables are seeing a clear uptick in business. So are merchants who say the redesign, completed in block-by-block phases, has brought increased foot traffic and made their storefronts more visible.
“It’s creative. It gets you looking and walking,” said Jill Hornik, whose family owns the Mile’s oldest retailer, Jae’s Jewelers, and who also serves on the BID’s board. “I think it will be lively day and night, on weekdays and on weekends.”

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