What's next for Ocean Drive?

Ocean Drive: The Future of a Historic Street. Street of Broken Dreams No More

By: James Cubby

Ocean Drive, the most famous street in South Beach, runs just 15 blocks from South Pointe Drive to 15th Street. First developed in the 1920s, Ocean Drive evolved through the years from a tropical resort street, a row of barracks for World War II soldiers, and a desolate forgotten neighborhood to a revived tourist-filled Art Deco Historical District. No longer the quiet tropical paradise attracting A-listers, the street has become a destination for late-night revelers, twerkers, brawls, roving scooters, and street parties eliciting complaints from locals, business owners, and tourists. Locals avoid Ocean Drive like the plague and the press has labeled it “Chaos on Ocean Drive.” Miami Beach Mayor Gelber, born and raised in Miami Beach, has noted that the beachfront now resembles the craziness of Bourbon Street, the vibrant party street of New Orleans. “Ocean Drive is a beautiful and iconic street,” says Gelber. I lived on Ocean Drive in the early '90s and have seen it change from a quiet little street to what we have now. We want to make it safe for everyone.” In order to change the climate of Ocean Drive, the Mayor hopes to rebrand the street and the entire district. He has proposed a plan he is submitting to the City Commission. “Everything has to be approved by the commission. I do not have the final say.”

"Everything has to be approved by the commission. I do not have the final say".

Dan Gelber

With major rebranding, Gelber hopes to revamp 
the South Beach Entertainment District 
(Ocean Drive from 5th to 15th Street) into an 
“Art Deco Cultural District.” Some of his 
suggestions include a midnight last call for 
alcohol. 
The midnight curfew would affect all 
restaurants, bars, and clubs on Ocean Drive 
and Collins Avenue between 5th and 16th Streets. 
Businesses wishing to serve alcohol past 
midnight can apply for conditional use permits. 

He also wants to re-establish Ocean Drive as 
a walkable and pedestrian oriented street only 
allowing non-motor vehicles. In order to 
accommodate hotel guest delivery and drop 
off, the side streets adjacent to Ocean Drive 
will feature loading and delivery spaces. He's 
also pushing for no scooters and no hawking. 

To further the pedestrian transformation, he 
proposes that the existing street portions of 
Ocean Drive be elevated level with sidewalks 
so it's a continuous thoroughfare. To make 
the area more welcoming, dedicated areas 
for outdoor seating will be created. 

According to USNews.com, Ocean Drive remains Miami Beach's #2 tourist attraction after the beach. 
The Miami Art Deco District remains on the National Register of Historic Places with approximately 900 preserved most Art Deco buildings. If this proposal is passed the Mayor hopes Ocean Drive will become a more family-friendly destination. As he has said, “I do not have the final word. It is my job to make sure the commission is focused.” The commission along with City Manager Jimmy Morales has 
planned an open workshop with Ocean Drive as the focus. If you're not familiar with Ocean Drive, take a stroll. 

"People complain about 
everything, but we're 
working to make Miami 
Beach a better place 
for the residents."

Dan Gelber

Closing time of non-conforming liquor stores 
in the area would be at 5:00 p.m. instead of 
the current 8:00 p.m. time. Open container 
regulations will be enforced. 
Future stand-alone bars (except for interior 
hotel lobby bars) will be prohibited. Roof 
tops will be limited to commercial restaurant 
use only. 
The MXE (entertainment district) regulations 
were developed in the early 1980's as 
incentive to replace the dated apartment 
regulations of the mostly two/three story 
hotels on Ocean Drive. At that time the 
sidewalks were widened for café use and 
Lummus Park was improved, hoping to bring 
more business to Ocean Drive. The sidewalk 
cafés flourished changing the atmosphere of 
the street. 

Mayor Gelber's proposal is just the beginning of a major renovation/improvement plan for all of Miami Beach. As mayor, he's very proud of the improvements citywide and “wants to increase the cultural footprint.” He's hoping to create incentives for galleries and give hotels the ability to program on the beach. He wants to work with small businesses and Miami Beach museums such as the Art Deco 
Museum, Wolfsonian FIU Museum, the Jewish Museum of Florida, WEAM, and the Bass Museum. “People complain about everything,” says Gelber. “but we're working to make Miami Beach a better place for the residents.” Citywide improvements include: Bike lanes in many areas including the new reimagined Washington Avenue with designated bike lanes. The Bayside beach walk will soon make 
it possible to walk behind all the condos on the beach along the bay. “We have 30 acres of new parks in the city and more coming, including the 7th Street park (construction is underway).” The 22 million dollar Go Bond has afforded the city many perks. “We have 7 million dollars in public art. We're looking to put art everywhere. We are working on parks, replacing sidewalks, and street improvements.” 

 

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