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May 21, 2006 - Miami Herald (Neighbors section)


54th Street's makeover is coming


One of Liberty City's most prominent roads is in line for a major makeover intended to upgrade its sidewalks and landscaping and lure more businesses.

Details of the project slated for Northwest 54th Street are still sketchy and will be unveiled later this week. But County Commissioner Audrey M. Edmonson and officials of the Florida Department of Transportation gave a brief outline at a news conference Wednesday at the Joseph Caleb Center.

The plan, which is the result of a 2003 charrette held by the Urban Design Center, will bring FDOT's Livable Communities designation to the street, helping to create new businesses, revitalize current one and make use of empty lots.

But the groundbreaking is still some two years away.

Livable Communities ''is not a program but a design philosophy,'' said Alice Bravo, FDOT's district planning and environmental management engineer.

``We look at both the corridor and its needs, such as sidewalks and landscaping.''

Currently, 105 businesses are located on the section of Northwest 54th Street that extends from Northwest 17th to 37th avenues.

''We are committed to keeping small businesses on the corridor,'' said Elaine Black, executive director of Tools for Change, a business advocacy agency that is among those involved in the project.

Other agencies involved include the Urban Task Force, the county's Office of Community and Economic Development and the Metro-Miami Action Plan Trust.

''What's exciting is that this is the first [revitalization] to happen [with the Livable Communities designation],'' said Janet Seitlin, FDOT project manager.

Edmonson is planning to appoint a neighborhood committee to receive input from the public.

''We are bringing organization together for collaboration,'' Edmonson said.

The community is invited to an open house from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the Northwest 54th Street corridor project.

The meeting will be held at the Joseph Caleb Center, 5400 NW 22nd Ave.

Community members interested in serving on the neighborhood committee should call Edmonson's office, at 305-636-2331.