Pelli to handle Arsht Center District master planning

South Florida Business Journal

Date: Wednesday, September 21, 2011, 9:37am EDT

Citing New York City’s Lincoln Center as a model, a group of leaders has chosen Cesar Pelli, the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts architect, to handle the master planning for the development of the Arsht Center District, the same neighborhood where the $3 billion Resorts World Miami is to be built.

Choosing Pelli is one of the first major actions of the Town Square Neighborhood Development Corp., a nonprofit commercial developer Armando Codina chairs with vice chair Manny Diaz, Miami’s former mayor.

The decision to form the TSNDC occurred in 2010 and is being formalized now that funding has been secured, according to a statement the group released Wednesday.

The Pelli appointment was made possible by $300,000 in grant funding from ArtPlace, a federal initiative in concert with private foundations including the Knight Foundation aimed at revitalizing America’s cities by making the arts the center of economic development.

“We came together a year ago with the goal of ensuring that the landscape of the Arsht Center District neighborhood evolves into a vibrant neighborhood supportive of what has become Miami’s cultural entertainment heart,” said Codina, who was recently award the ULI Lifetime Achievement Award, in a statement.

Joining Codina and Diaz are Michael Eidson, chairman of the Performing Arts Center Trust Board of Directors and partner with law firm Colson Hicks Eidson, and Parker Thomson, founding chair of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

“Because the Arsht Center is the cultural and economic backbone of this dynamic neighborhood, it is naturally suited to take on a leadership role so that the district continues to thrive,” Eidson said in a statement. “The future of this area has yet to be determined, and we want to have a strong imprint on what shape it takes.”

Pelli expressed his excitement about taking on the project.

“The ability to master plan the surrounding environs and raise the profile of this great cultural center is critical,” he said in a statement. “I am delighted to be back and have the opportunity to plan the evolution of the district around the Arsht Center and help shape its future.”

Working in partnership with neighboring communities, the TSNDC plans to have an active role in overseeing the development and redevelopment of the district by advocating for best solutions as infrastructure is developed, addressing future Arsht Center expansion needs and supporting the Arsht Center as a catalyst to improve the livability of the surrounding urban neighborhoods through cultural programming and entrepreneurial business ventures, according to the group’s statement.

“The TSNDC’s plan will create an urban fabric that makes the neighborhood more desirable to live in, and one that will stand the test of time,” Diaz said in a statement.