Ambrish Baisiwala

MIAMI—Miami Beach is known as walkable community. It has to be. Driving can be a frustrating experience at times. How will the redeveloped Miami Beach Convention Center District add to the congestion? And what do developers pitching for the right to spearhead the 52-acre project have in mind to keep Miami Beach walkable?

In part four of this series that takes a side-by-side look at how South Beach ACE and Portman-CMC plan to approach the redevelopment, we asked a principal from each firm what elements set their hotel plans apart and how they settled on the hotel design. In this segment, we asked about all-important plans for minimizing traffic congestion and encouraging pedestrian flow

“We know that we can’t build a way out of congestion in an urban environment,” Ambrish Baisiwala, CEO of Portman Holdings, tells GlobeSt.com. “Rather, a multi-modal approach is needed to improve the City of Miami Beach’s transportation system. Moreover, a system centered on creating connectivity is essential since it will help keep people out of their cars once arriving to the area.”

With that in mind, Baisiwala says his team developed a transportation management plan to “effectively and safely” manage vehicular and pedestrian movements during large events. The plan includes components like police control at intersections, temporary street modifications and special event signal timing plans.

And since Portman’s research shows that up to 30% of traffic congestion in urban areas is caused by motorists searching for parking, the group is introducing smart parking technologies that aim to help get drivers to their destination without searching for parking. Baisiwala says Portman-CMC’s plan offers real-time data for parking availability via the Internet, smart phone apps, and street signage. He also points to distributed parking areas, instead of parking concentrated into one or two large foot prints, as a means to alleviate traffic throughout the roadway network.

“We also want to enhance public transit,” he says. “Our plan introduces landscaping and shading, making key attractions such as SoundScape Park, the Holocaust Memorial, the Botanical Gardens and Lincoln Road, instantly more connected and walkable. To make biking a better option for businesses, visitors, and residents, we plan to add amenities like covered biking racks and locker rooms.”

Daniel Tishman, head of Tishman Hotels & Realty, part of the South Beach ACE team, tells GlobeSt.com his transportation and mobility plan was developed hand-in-hand with the group’s overall master plan, using data that the group collected during the Miami International Boat Show. To encourage pedestrian flow, his plan shrinks the convention center’s north-south length approximately in half, allowing east-west connectivity through and around the site.

“We have added a median to 17th Street, which will make for a more pedestrian-friendly experience,” Tishman says. “We also have numerous traffic mitigation measures planned. Vehicle access to the site will be organized by program and parking, loading and drop off functions, which removes congestion from surrounding streets. We believe traffic signals around the site can be optimized in the near term for immediate impact.”