WHAT IT IS: In Downtown Miami, a fenced off park sits on the banks of the Miami River. In the middle of Fort Dallas Park, and in the shadows of Metromover tracks, sits Flagler Worker’s House.
It is the last known building in Miami directly associated with Henry Flagler, founder of the Florida East Coast Railway and one of the key figures in the city’s development.
Christine Rupp, Executive Director of Dade Heritage Trust Foundation, saw potential in reactivating the park, encouraging Miamians to utilize the adjacent Greenway bike path, and preserving the building.
Her idea was to turn the park into a visitor’s center with a small café and serve as a place where bike rental or walking tours would begin. She submitted her idea to The Miami Foundation’s Public Space Challenge in 2017 and was selected to receive $25,000 to help launch the idea.
“The best thing about this Public Space Challenge is that it starts getting people to think about the necessary improvements that are needed here as Miami evolves,” Rupp said. “We know everybody can’t continue to drive and yet we continue to build more roads. We all love Miami, but we know that there’s room for improvement.”
Dade Heritage Trust, along with architects and landscape architects working pro bono, is currently putting together a site plan and proposal to be presented to the city.
The City of Miami’s 1983 historic designation report describes the building as “a one-of-a-kind structure in downtown Miami; it is the only building of its type, age and size still standing in the downtown area.” The 1897 House was one of at least 30 built for the workers constructing Flager’s Royal Palm Hotel and is the only one left standing. The building was moved to Fort Dallas Park in 1980 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.
WHY IT IS IMPORTANT: “Green space in downtown is severely lacking, especially riverfront space, so we decided that if we could present this idea that it would definitely jumpstart a conversation about the importance of bringing that super valuable site back to life,” Rupp said.
She also noted that because of its location, the park has great potential to become a hub of activity. “It’s right on the river, so you could have river taxis. It’s on the Miami River Greenway, so you’ve got this great bike path, and then it’s adjacent to the Riverwalk Metromover Station. There’s a whole slew of alternative transportation options right there at that one site.”
HOW TO GET INVOLVED: Thursday, May 16, is the last day to submit an idea for the 2019 Public Space Challenge. This year, they are looking for ideas to create, activate, or improve how we move around Miami-Dade. The Challenge is open to anyone with an idea.
Christine’s advice to those thinking about submitting an idea is, “Dream big, because the city needs big ideas.”