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CORAL GABLES CHARRETTE: PUBLIC PROCESS

The Public Process

The City of Coral Gables Charrette 2002 took place January 10-14 at the Coral Gables Youth Center. More than 1,500 people joined 50-plus designers in the five days of meetings, design ses- sions and presentations. This essay describes the process of preparation and the charrette, which produced the report that follows.

A charrette is an intense participatory planning and urban design process in which community members and leaders work with architects, landscape architects and planners to envision the physical future of their city. The process is designed to draw out vivid public opinion and feed- back. Seeking a broad range of public input is crucial, not only to shape but also to validate the recommendations resulting from the process.

The charrette, initiated by the City of Coral Gables and organized with the assistance of the University of Miami, was guided by a mission statement:

"To define a community vision that enhances the vitality of downtown and enhances the livability of adjoining neighborhoods."

The area of focus was limited to two areas related by adjacency and shared pressures for growth: the Central Business District and the North Ponce de Leon Neighborhood. The Central Business District is bounded by Navarre Avenue, Douglas Road, LeJeune Road and Almeria Avenue. The North Ponce neighborhood is bounded by SW 8th Street, Douglas Road, LeJeune Road, the City's western boundary and Navarre Avenue.

City officials and University administrators and faculty prepared for the January event for six months. More than three dozen prior studies and plans for the City were reviewed and summa- rized.

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