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The Reincarnation of South Pointe Park

June 08, 2009 By Doug in Miami: Local NewsMiami: Things to Do  | 13 Comments


“The rebirth of this park is a symbol of the ongoing renaissance of our city.  Every aspect of South Pointe Park represents a combined effort of the City and our residents. It’s a gift, really, to residents and visitors alike.” —Miami Beach City Manager Jorge M. Gonzalez

Most aging relics on South Beach opt for a little nip and tuck once in a while, and South Pointe Park is no exception.  From July 9, 2007 until March 22, 2009, the neglected 17.5 acre recreation area was cordoned off, as an ambitious $22.4 million project—bankrolled by local redevelopment agency, Miami Beach Resort Tax and Miami-Dade County General Obligation Bond funds—transformed it into a designer’s dream, courtesy of MCM, a Miami-based construction firm.

Joggers, walkers, and rollerbladers, accustomed to being able to circumnavigate the southern side of the island while taking in the breathtaking vistas of the shipping channel, were forced to find other routes during the lengthy renovations. 




Prior to the summer of 2007, South Pointe Park was a much simpler place, a reminder of a time when South Beach was less image-conscious.  It consisted of a grove of coconut palms, a walkway, some unassuming restrooms and a few seaside rocks you could sit on to enjoy your Joe’s Stone Crab take-out as the cruise ships moseyed by in the distance.  The afore-mentioned joggers, rollerbladers, and walkers mingled with lovers and homeless people along its lawn, while the scent of red meat on the grill wafted over from Smith & Wollensky’s Steakhouse, curiously juxtaposed in the center of the action.


(above) THE PROMENADE PRE-2009

As South Beach became ever-increasingly chic, these non-descript grounds became more and more out-of-step with the latte-sipping world beyond.  And so, a posh rebirth was conceived.

The original plan had been to renovate the park in segments; however, Mario Gonzalez-Pola, the City’s senior capital project coordinator, determined the work could be completed more quickly with the entire park closed.  While the city had wanted to keep one of the walkways open, according to Gonzales-Pola, the liability was too great.  Consequently, the project remained largely hidden from the public until this past March.



So, now that the mystery has been at last unveiled, a question remains: was the money worth it? Or would it have better been used…erm…revamping the city drainage system?  You be the judge!




The cement walkway of before has been replaced with a 20-foot wide promenade constructed of a tabby-shell aggregate with natural keystone banding.  A series of 18 light towers line the thoroughfare, which, paralleling Government Cut, has been dubbed “The Cutwalk“.  At night, these towers come alive in an array of different colored lights, especially designed to avoid confusing nesting sea turtles, who use the stars to guide them home to the beaches where they first hatched.



Pathways curve artfully along newly-formed hillsides, providing some texture to the once flat surroundings; they meander across a lawn comprised of Paspalum grass (the same salt-tolerant turf that’s used in area golf courses), over a bridge, and out through a natural dune area close to the beach.


Speaking of foliage, the park has quite an assortment: it features 25 different types of trees, along with various palm species and 34 different varieties of shrubs, ornamental plants and ground cover—a perfect setting for a relaxing picnic.



A slight deviation along the serpentine pathway takes you up a hill, past some hillside bleachers and out to the roof of the park pavilion, which serves as a landlocked lido-style observation deck, offering unparalleled views of the ships coming and going through Government Cut.  This building, designed by Miami Beach architect and resident William Lane, houses park offices, restrooms, and a multi-purpose room for special events.




Sure to keep the kiddies amused, these snake-like jets provide the perfect wet relief for a South Beach summer day.  While the decorative fountains in the park use recycled water, for health reasons, these child-specific play areas must maintain a constant flow of fresh water.  In light of the current drought restrictions, this feature was a topic of considerable debate during recent elections.

Near the fountain jets is a children’s play area, as well as a few futuristic picnic tables.




Park hours are from sunrise until 10 pm, while the Cutwalk remains open until 2 am.  Parking is available in a lot adjoining the park; however, at last report, they were charging $15 to park.  If you don’t mind a little walk, it’s easier to snag a spot on one of the streets a few blocks away.  Weekdays between 9 am and 6 pm, parking is free on residentially-zoned streets; at other times, metered parking is easily found and costs $1.25 per hour. Get directions to the Park.



After my visit, I was considerably impressed by the park’s ritzy new incarnation, though my visiting friend thought it felt a little sterile and corporate.  It certainly does deliver with a sense of aesthetics it lacked before, but it did feel a little like an office park at the same time…a rather expensive one at that! As we move into a homogenized world, perhaps that’s just the inevitable shape of things to come…


Related Categories: City Services Miami: Local News, Miami: Things to Do,

Douglas Eames is a freelance writer, homespun philosopher and budget bon vivant who divides his time between Southern California and South Beach.

See more articles by Doug.

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13 Comments on

"The Reincarnation of South Pointe Park"

Aaron in Miramar says:

Watching an extremely large cruise ship leave from here before dawn but after a night of club hopping can be a life changing experience.

Posted on 06/09/2009 at 5:36 PM

Kristine says:

Does South Pointe Park have BBQ facilities? I didn’t notice any grill’s around in the pictures, but that would be nice. smile

Posted on 06/15/2009 at 9:23 AM

Doug says:

Hi Kristine, good question! I didn’t notice any BBQ facilities either, and according to this disillusioned reviewer, there aren’t any, though he also claims there were no picnic tables and I did see those.  According to him, the only place you can get your barbecue after the renovations is in the Smith & Wollensky Steakhouse.

Among his other complaints:

“#1. The Park is smaller because there is less wide open flat green space to run or play frisbee in. Yes its smaller $23 million and we get a smaller park.

“#2. There are NO shade trees like before, Get a feeling they really don’t want people there.”

Posted on 06/15/2009 at 9:46 AM

Kristine says:

Yelpers tend to be cynics for the most part (I was following up on that site for a few and got tired of it).

I need to take a walk over there and check it out. If you didn’t notice any and he didn’t either…. I guess there are none. Too bad. That would be a cool spot to BBQ!

Posted on 06/15/2009 at 9:50 AM

Doug says:

According to George Leposky of the Miami Travel Examiner:

“Other prohibitions [in the park] include alcoholic beverages, camping, cooking, bicycles, skateboards, organized team sports, and other high-impact activities that could disrupt other users’ enjoyment of the park.”

Looks like it really is a little more sterile now than it was before.

Posted on 06/15/2009 at 9:54 AM

Rachums says:

Great article Doug. I don’t like the renovations, I agree it’s too corporate and sterile. Things like this make me a little sad, like everyone who fell in love with South Beach for the way it was, is just at the mercy of developers who are going to spend their money and change it however they want. I’m all for restoring art deco buildings and improving the city, but sometimes we just need to know when to leave well enough alone.

Posted on 06/16/2009 at 8:58 AM

Doug says:

Thanks for your comment, Rachums.  I was thinking about how the city commissioner said that this was a gift for residents and visitors to South Beach, and it occurred to me, “How is this a gift when we’re the ones who paid for it?” 

I remember being a kid and having my mother give me her Sears credit card so I could buy her a birthday present.  She told me not to spend more than $20.  It’s probably a good idea that when you give someone money to buy you a gift that you tell them how much they should spend!

How much money could we have saved by simply re-landscaping the old park and rebuilding a building or two?

I think part of the objective here was to de-foliate everything so homeless people and drug addicts wouldn’t have places to hide, a situation that might have better been resolved some other way.

Posted on 06/16/2009 at 9:12 AM

Mario says:

The other day I dropped by South Pointe Park, and while I found it pretty nice, the $23 million price tag is way too much. That money could’ve been spent in a wiser manner.

Around the observation deck, a small amphitheatre could have been included for music and theatre presentation.

Posted on 06/17/2009 at 8:31 PM

Maria de los Angeles says:

Thanks for a great overview, Doug.  I have yet to visit—waiting for my leg to heal so I can properly spend time there walking around.  It does look more corporate though.  I remember the old lookout tower (aka “make out” tower).  It was definitely a more rustic place.

Posted on 06/17/2009 at 11:04 PM

Doug says:

Sure, Maria.  On the plus side, the park is probably more disability-friendly than before.

Posted on 06/17/2009 at 11:28 PM

Christian says:

They should have made a cool square at the end of Washington Avenue.

Why not a “Washington Square” with George Washington as a statue and fountains around it?

Posted on 06/18/2009 at 7:01 AM

Bart says:

The new South Pointe Park is undeniably a wonderful addition to South Beach.  The renovation project adds a luxurious and gorgeous flair to a once down-trodden and unsafe area.  To have accomplished this feat at only $22+ million is a testament to vision and organization by the developers.  I’m very pleased to have this beautiful place to come to when I’m in South Beach.  I’m just a family man from Texas who fell in love with South Beach while a student at U of Florida in the mid-80’s and my family loves coming here.

Posted on 07/02/2010 at 1:36 PM

noel says:

i fished there back in the 80’s tried this weekend and was told by the security guards no fishing,sign was posted,this park is for the rich only was told by security that the old lady always call the cops,think about this expensive parking,dogs are allowed to walk and do there business,homeless people sleeping on benches,and the old pier is condemned,well i guess they took the fun out of coming here,i used to come and make out,have barbecues and birthday parties,i remember my friend Rene fishing for sharks at night grew up here went to beach high and i will never go back to the beach,the place has turn in to a playground for the rich and all the locales have left the city.

Posted on 07/21/2010 at 9:55 PM

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