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The Underline is popping up for a day on Oct. 15

You’ve probably heard about The Underline, the 10-mile linear park that will transform a plain old bike path under the Metrorail into a lush, active park. There will be outdoor gyms, art, bike share stations, and other things that will get Miamians moving through the urban core in a whole new way.

(We wrote about how The Underline came to be here.)

But it’s hard to picture that urban mecca right now, despite the organized bike rides that are giving us a sense of what it could be like to pedal through the city on the regular.

After this weekend, it will be easier. The Friends of the Underline Young Professionals Organization are bringing us The Underlounge, a day-long festival that will basically create a pop-up of what the Brickell section of the park will be in a couple years. There will be chalk art, fitness classes, music, a dog park, and the world’s longest mini-golf hole, because why not?

“It’s meant to show how activated The Underline at Brickell Backyard will be once it’s built. This is going to be a pop up of what the programming could be,” said Meg Daly, president of Friends of the Underline.

The Underline is chugging along, with plans to break ground on the first section in Brickell in fall 2017. The Friends of the Underline, the organization driving the project, was incorporated in January 2014, meaning conception to construction is happening in less than three years. Daly calls it the fastest moving project of its kind in the country.

“One of the great things about this project is it’s moving quickly. It’s all about momentum and making sure that you’re real. We have a habit in our community of having great plans but not having the funds to deliver,” Daly said.

The money has poured in from public and private sources, which helps a lot. Manhattan’s Highline — probably the most famous linear park — “had a 20 to 1 return on investment,” Daly notes. These kinds of projects now look pretty good to public and private funders.

So far The Underline has received:

  • $3 million from Miami-Dade County
  • $2 million from the state
  • $1 million from Florida Department of Transportation’s alternative transportation grant
  • $1 million from the City of Miami
  • $250,000 from the Knight Foundation (for an outdoor gym)
  • Nearly $2 million from private sector sources

The City of Miami has also pledged an additional $50 million specifically for the parts of The Underline (about 5 miles) that lie within City limits (future development revenue dependent).

Overall, they need $120 million to complete the project.

They’ll first build out the Brickell section — about a mile of trail from the Miami River to Simpson Park on SW 15th Road. They’ve already raised $10 million for this section, called the Brickell Backyard.

“We picked Brickell first because there’s so much density without green space to relieve that,” Daly said.

The hope is that getting this first section built out will get the ball rolling not just on other sections of The Underline, but to get the city thinking differently about its space in general.

“I think Miami has gotten a little spoiled. We have these incredible gifts, the ocean on one side and Everglades on the other… but I don’t think we’ve created a city by design. Projects like The Underline make those big bold statements of ‘We’ve arrived as a city with vision’.”