A new 33-acre park is coming to downtown Miami. You have a chance to help name it

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Alexander Lugo | August 3, 2022, 3:16 PM

Downtown Miami is getting 33 acres of new public space in an area that is seeing lots of development.

The park is part of an $840 million project that will turn Interstate 395 connecting the Dolphin Expressway to the MacArthur Causeway into a double-decker of traffic, expanding capacity and streamlining the traffic flow to Miami Beach.

A massive park similar to The Underline in Brickell, dubbed The Underdeck for now, is being built under the highways.

Although the new park won’t be open for a while, you have the chance now, until Friday Aug. 5, to name it. The Underdeck’s committee is taking input on the branding through an online survey.

A rendering of a map showing The Underdeck below I-395 from above
A rendering of a map showing The Underdeck below I-395 from above

The Underdeck’s location

The park aims to make the area more walkable and address the division between communities separated by a railway. The new shared space will link Overtown to downtown Miami and the Omni district.

“The Underdeck is a space for all of Miami, all cultures and all communities,” said Suzan McDowell, a spokesperson for The Underdeck Committee.

The mile-long park will include a pedestrian bridge that goes over the commuter rails that separate Overtown from downtown Miami. The project will span from Overtown’s Gibson Park to the Perez Art Museum along Biscayne Bay.

A rendering of a pedestrian bridge at The Underdeck below I-395
A rendering of a pedestrian bridge at The Underdeck below I-395

In recent years, downtown Miami has seen increased development with a batch of new high-rises like the Miami Worldcenter. Developers are planning more new towers like the E11EVEN Hotel & Residences Miami that will be just a walk away from The Underdeck.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the proposed park in Overtown, police have cleared homeless encampments, making way for the construction of the highway and The Underdeck.

The Underdeck vs. The Underline

The project mirrors The Underline, a $140 million park under Miami’s Metrorail that will span 10 miles from the Miami River to Downtown Dadeland once fully complete.

READ MORE: The Underline’s first section is open in Brickell. It has butterflies and 30K plants.

Although similar, The Underdeck is a completely different project than The Underline, with different backers.

The Underline is mostly an effort by Miami-Dade County. The Underdeck is a joint effort between the city of Miami and the Florida Department of Transportation.

Another project led by Miami-Dade County will transform an abandoned railway into the Ludlam Trail, another six-mile park stretching from Dadeland to Robert King High Park by Miami International Airport.

All three projects are separate undertakings with similar visions.

The Underdeck’s features

In addition to a pedestrian path going through the entire park, The Underdeck concept features an amphitheater, a dog park, a playground, a cafe and an athletic court, according to its website.

Meanwhile, see what designers envision the park looking like once it’s finished in summer 2026.

A rendering of a walking trail at The Underdeck below I-395
A rendering of a walking trail at The Underdeck below I-395
A rendering of a pedestrian bridge at The Underdeck below I-395
A rendering of a pedestrian bridge at The Underdeck below I-395
A rendering of a walking trail at The Underdeck below I-395
A rendering of a walking trail at The Underdeck below I-395
A rendering of a walking trail at The Underdeck below I-395
A rendering of a walking trail at The Underdeck below I-395


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Concept Design

Traffic, Mobility & Utilities

This group will be convening with all relevant agencies and stakeholders to identify key related challenges and to ensure short-term and long-term cross-sector plans are agreed upon and implemented.

Funding Strategies

This group was initially charged with fundraising the match dollars required by the Knight Foundation grant (noted in the approved MOU and City resolution).  All fund-raising goals have been fully met as of December 2021 and are currently funding all planning activities.  The group is now developing a framework for the fund development strategy related to capital, operational and maintenance needs.

Stakeholder Awareness, Education & Engagement

This group is responsible for casting the net broadly to create awareness of the project and engage residents in the Underdeck’s development.  A full engagement strategy has been launched and will continue through the summer of 2022.  A monthly newsletter and website will be launched beginning in March, monthly community meetings will be held through the Summer of 2022, and stakeholders will have regular monthly opportunities to inform and engage with the Underdeck Committee Working Groups.

Construction, Operation, Maintenance

This group is working closely with the City of Miami and FDOT to ensure that the Heritage Trail, Legacy Walls and other public art components will include stakeholder leadership, participation and input in the exhibits, artists, and content.  This group is also working with the City to identify the appropriate expertise to develop a realistic estimate for the operation and management budget for the long-term sustainability of the public space.  This estimated budget will inform the work  of the fund development working group in the coming months.

Government, Project Management & Strategic Oversight

Naming/Branding – Over the last two months community meetings, focus groups, surveys, and interviews have been conducted to gather input from our community. Two engagement and marketing firms, Kivvit and Circle of One have been brought on board to support this process.  A Creative Brief will be developed inclusive of potential names for the Underdeck or Open Space Area.  These potential names will be shared with the community and further input will refine the final recommendations that will be considered by the Underdeck Executive Committee.  The final selected name is subject to the approval of the City Commission.   

This group has researched best practices on governance of public spaces and has been reviewing various governance structures nationally and locally.  They are currently working on recommendations that would inform the governance of the public space.  These recommendations will inform future bylaws.

Voice Your Support for The Underdeck!

Greetings and Many Thanks,

It is not often that a municipal project with the scale and scope of the Underdeck, is developed with the intentional and valued participation from members of the community. The City of Miami is to be celebrated and commended for empowering the people of Miami through its sanctioning of the Underdeck Committee to provide community-driven recommendations about how the Underdeck should be designed, named, branded, programmed, operated, governed, and maintained.

In 2022, 124 members of the community served on five Underdeck working groups focused on Stakeholder Awareness and Engagement, Operations and Maintenance, Traffic and Mobility, Funding, and Governance. A total of 129 working group meetings were held during the year. More than 35 community in person and virtual meetings were held in Overtown and Downtown to engage residents, along with survey respondents providing feedback for the Underdeck Naming totaling more than 2000. In addition, two special interest groups were created for Economic Development and Youth Engagement, further expanding the Underdeck Committee’s outreach.

The anticipation of this 33-acre public multi-purpose green space is enhanced by knowing that the recommendations for development through this community engagement have been submitted for your review and will soon be voted upon. With a vote of “Yes” to these recommendations, the Underdeck will truly be a project of the people, by the people, for the people.

As a public space positioned to reconnect communities and serve as a destination for families and friends to engage with one another, it is greatly appreciated that the City of Miami has and will continue to value the voices, insights, and recommendations that will ultimately make the Underdeck we can authentically call our own.

Alan Fein

Chair Government, Project Management, Strategic Oversight Working Group

Alan Fein is a Shareholder in Stearns Weaver Miller’s Litigation Department and a member of the Firm’s Board of Directors. For over three decades, Alan has successfully handled complex business litigation in South Florida and in the leading business courts in the nation, including the Delaware Court of Chancery, the Delaware Supreme Court, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Eleventh Circuit and the District of Columbia. At the same time, he has developed one of the region’s most vibrant sports law practices, and brought vision and leadership to a number of community leadership roles.