Little Havana’s Historic Calle Ocho stands close to a decision which will permanently alter the direction of this neighborhood’s evolution.  This a prime moment for us to cement our commitment to great urban neighborhoods.

The Florida Department of Transportation is currently studying Little Havana’s main street, SW 8th Street, locally known as Calle Ocho, and accompanying SW 7th, going from I-95 as far west as SW 27th Avenue. Both SW 7th and 8th Streets are now three-lane high speed counter-directional thoroughfares, with SW 8 leading into Brickell and SW 7 leading out.

What lies at the core of this debate is the discussion of whether Calle Ocho is to continue its existence as speedway into and out of Brickell, a mere tool of car movement; or whether it should fulfill its potential as a vital commercial and social artery of a vibrant neighborhood.  Undeniably Little Havana is a great local neighborhood, but one that has not lived up to its possibilities for decades.  And this should not be viewed as just a local problem.  Little Havana is a vibrant heritage neighborhood, defined by its cultural flavor and dynamism, framed by a well-proportioned urban grid plan, gifted with valuable architectural assets, populated by a diverse and colorful people, and marked by a narrative arc so resonant of the American story.  Little Havana has the potential to be not just a great local neighborhood, it has the potential to be a jewel in the patchwork of the Miami cityscape, and one of the World’s Great Neighborhoods.

What we decide about Calle Ocho can bring that untapped value to fruition.


Calle Ocho began its life, and has been for much of its existence, a typical 2-way American Main Street.  That changed in the late 60s, when the current speedway-like pattern of today was drawn.  At the time the change serviced an understandable need, but the subsequent opening of elevated east-west Dolphin Expressway (I-836) eliminated the need.  Despite this development, the prime stretch between 27th Avenue and I-95 was never converted back.


So the question becomes, what is the alternative?  To reverse the 50 years of disenfranchisement and commercial blight that Calle Ocho’s current plan has brought, step one is reversing the corridor to freeway shift, and restoring Calle Ocho’s two way traffic.  That is the critical first step, but other needed solutions include expanding sidewalks, and permitting those expanded sidewalks to house spillover activity from the adjacent businesses such a side-walk cafes.  Also critical is the better integration of multi-modal transportation alternatives such as dedicated bike and transit lanes.  And lastly, while all these features in of themselves will improve the pedestrian experience and safety, it is essential to incorporate greater safety features such as distinct crosswalks.

The question of how to incorporate SW 7 st is also significant.  SW 7 is mostly composed of residential multi-family buildings now, but the underlying zoning encourages the development of mixed uses, which may bring street-front retail components anchoring residential spaces above.  SW 7 st would be an ideal candidate to house dedicated bike lanes.

Amongst the benefits of two-way corridors are:

Join an impassioned coalition of local urbanists, business-owners, property owners, and concerned citizens, as we voice to FDOT our concerns.

Our very talented friends at PlusUrbia have started a petition.  They’ve also drafted a sample alternative plan which is definitely worth checking out:

-Carlos Fausto Miranda

February 14, 2016

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