Friends of the Underdeck

BRINGING MIAMI TOGETHER

click to

Join Us

What is the Underdeck?

The Underdeck is a transformative, mile-long linear public space slated for completion in 2027, that will foster a sense of community, bridge neighborhoods and cultural assets in downtown Miami, and reconnect Overtown to as an integral part of the heart of Miami.

This ambitious project designed to revitalize the area beneath Miami’s new I-395 Signature Bridge will create a vibrant urban landscape by introducing green spaces, pedestrian pathways, cultural installations, and community amenities such as gardens, playgrounds, and an amphitheater. By reducing the number of supporting columns and raising the highway span, the Underdeck will open up more light-filled, accessible areas, enhancing the aesthetic appeal and usability of the space. The project will serve as a connective hub for multiple neighborhoods, including Overtown, Omni, Downtown, and the Innovation District, fostering greater connectivity and cohesion within the urban fabric of Miami.

Beyond its physical transformation, the Underdeck is a community-centric initiative aimed at bridging neighborhoods and cultural assets in downtown Miami, reconnecting the historic neighborhood of Overtown to the city’s core. Extensive community engagement has been a cornerstone of the project’s development, with significant input from local residents and stakeholders through meetings, charrettes, and surveys to ensure the space meets the community’s needs and aspirations. Supported by grants from foundations and philanthropic donors, the Underdeck is poised to become a landmark destination, promoting social equity, economic development, and cultural vibrancy. This dynamic and inclusive environment will enhance the quality of life for Miami’s residents and celebrate the city’s diverse heritage and vibrant urban life.

Overtown – The HEART of Miami

Overtown, one of Miami’s oldest Black communities, was a thriving hub of Black culture and commerce before the 1960s, home to hundreds of businesses and a vibrant middle class. However, the construction of I-95 and I-395 forcibly displaced thousands of Black residents, decimating the community and replacing homes and businesses with highways, government buildings, and parking lots. This so-called “urban renewal” not only widened Miami’s racial divide but also reduced Overtown’s population from 50,000 to 10,000, causing long-lasting socio-economic damage. This project seeks to address these historical wrongs head-on by transforming the space beneath the highway into a vibrant public area, reclaiming lost community space, and fostering healing through acknowledgment of past injustices. Active engagement of Overtown residents and small business owners has been essential in the development of our collective recommendations.  This will be a critical priority through construction and operation.   The project aims to restore Overtown’s vitality and honor its legacy, creating a public space that symbolizes unity and revitalization.

Who are The Friends of the Underdeck?

The Friends of the Underdeck is a dedicated group of community members formed to champion the transformative Underdeck project in downtown Miami. This initiative represents the latest chapter in a series of civic advocacy efforts that began in 2016 alongside the development of the Signature Bridge. The group’s mission encompasses raising awareness, educating the public, engaging civic leaders and residents, and securing funding to support the project’s successful partnership with the City of Miami and other stakeholders.

In 2018, a diverse coalition of civic leaders, business leaders, philanthropic leaders, adjacent landowners, small business owners, nonprofits, and residents came together to advocate for the future of the Underdeck. Over the years, they have worked closely with city administration to advocate for state-level funding, contribute to the concept design submitted to FDOT, and develop community-driven solutions.

The Underdeck Committee, a precursor to the Friends of the Underdeck, secured significant grant funding from the Knight Foundation, the Health Foundation of South Florida, the Jorge M. Pérez Family Foundation, and the Bloomberg Foundation. This funding, along with raised matching funds, powered the planning process. The Town Square Neighborhood Development Corporation (TSNDC) played a crucial role by incubating the Underdeck Committee’s work within their nonprofit structure, allowing the group to manage funding and plan effectively.

With the City of Miami Commission’s approval of a Memorandum of Understanding in September 2021, the Underdeck Committee began a collaborative planning process involving extensive community engagement. This process included numerous meetings, surveys, and the development of comprehensive recommendations for the project’s future design, governance, management, and branding.

As the Friends of the Underdeck, the group continues to build on this foundation, focusing on community engagement, securing funding, and ensuring the successful realization of the Underdeck project. Their efforts are integral to creating a vibrant, inclusive public space that connects and enriches the downtown Miami community.

Committee Engagement by the Numbers

Organizations Represented

Executive Committee Members

Working Groups

Working Groups Meetings

Stakeholders Participating and Sharing Their Insights

Stakeholder Subscribers

Members of Working Groups

SIX CORE PRINCIPLES FOR FRIENDS OF THE UNDERDECK

The Friends of the Underdeck are dedicated to continuing the transformative work of the Underdeck Committee, ensuring that the new public space in downtown Miami reflects the diverse needs and aspirations of the community. Rooted in the comprehensive recommendations developed by the Underdeck Committee, these principles will guide the Friends of the Underdeck as their north star. Their mission is to expand engagement, incorporating as many voices and perspectives as possible to ensure that the Underdeck becomes the public space our community deserves. It is the people’s project, and the Friends of the Underdeck are committed to supporting that mission. Additionally, we remain committed to working hard at establishing productive working relationships with the City of Miami, FDOT, Miami-Dade County, Omni and Overtown CRAs, and the Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA) to realize this project.

1. Collaborative Development

Engage Stakeholders: Involve a diverse group of stakeholders, including civic leaders, business owners, nonprofits, and residents, in the development process.

Good Faith Engagement: Maintain transparent and constructive collaboration with the public sector for planning, implementation, and management.

Historical Restoration and Community Healing: Transform the space beneath the highway into a vibrant public area, offering an opportunity to reclaim and revitalize the community space lost during the construction of the I-95 highway.

2. Community-Centric Approach

Prioritize Overtown Involvement: Ensure the Overtown community is central to all project stages, recognizing its historical significance and the need for restorative justice.

Facilitate Engagement: Conduct regular community meetings, feedback sessions, and establish dedicated liaisons to keep the community informed and involved.

Accessibility: Ensure engagement opportunities are accessible to all, including the unsheltered, acknowledging the socioeconomic diversity within Overtown.

Recognition of Historical Injustices: Acknowledge the historical injustices inflicted on the Overtown community, fostering healing and reconciliation.

3. Inclusivity in Leadership and Engagement

Diverse Decision-Making: Include diverse community perspectives in leadership and decision-making processes, reflecting the demographic and cultural richness of Overtown.

Inclusive Programming: Involve local artists in design and programming to reflect the cultural richness of the community and ensure that the space is vibrant and welcoming.

Comprehensive Marketing: Ensure marketing materials and renderings represent the community inclusively and accurately, highlighting Overtown’s historical and cultural contributions.

Commemoration of Cultural Heritage: Serve as a tribute to the rich cultural and historical legacy of Overtown, recognizing its significance as a vibrant, diverse, and economically strong community before the urban renewal projects of the 1960s.

4. Transparency and Accountability

Open Processes: Maintain transparency in committee membership and decision-making processes, ensuring that the community can see and understand how decisions are made.

Regular Updates: Share progress and updates openly with the community through various channels, including digital newsletters and public meetings.

Community Involvement: Involve the community in the planning and development process, ensuring that the voices and needs of the Overtown residents are heard and prioritized.

5. Economic Development and Local Empowerment

Strengthen Local Businesses: Focus on enhancing local business opportunities and fostering economic development, particularly for Overtown’s residents and entrepreneurs. Recognize the historical significance of Overtown as a thriving economic hub with hundreds of Black-owned businesses before the urban renewal projects.

Coordinate with Local Initiatives: Collaborate with local initiatives for economic empowerment and benefit, ensuring alignment with existing community goals and needs.

Employment Goals: Set specific, measurable goals for local employment and contracting to ensure tangible benefits, prioritizing opportunities for Overtown residents. Recognize the need to restore the economic vitality that was lost due to past displacements.

Economic Revitalization: Stimulate economic growth by attracting businesses, tourists, and investments to the area, creating jobs and boosting local commerce. Draw inspiration from Overtown’s history as a vibrant, diverse, and economically strong community.

Social Connectivity: Create a public space that encourages social interaction and community engagement, helping to rebuild the social fabric of Overtown. Leverage the historical legacy of Overtown’s strong community bonds to foster a renewed sense of pride and belonging among residents.

6. Legacy and Vision for the Future

Creating a Lasting Legacy: Transform a symbol of division and displacement into a symbol of unity and revitalization, inspiring future urban development projects to prioritize community needs and historical justice.

Vision for Inclusive Growth: Embody a vision for inclusive growth, where the benefits of urban development are shared equitably among all residents, and historical injustices are acknowledged and addressed.

Urban Development and Livability: Enhance the urban environment by converting underutilized spaces into attractive, functional public areas, improving the overall aesthetics and livability of the neighborhood.

Green Spaces and Recreation: Incorporate green spaces, recreational facilities, and pedestrian-friendly areas to promote a healthier and more active lifestyle for the community.

By integrating these core principles, the Friends of the Underdeck commit to advocating for a public space that not only serves as a vibrant community hub but also addresses past injustices and promotes a more inclusive and equitable future for Overtown and all of downtown Miami.

The story begins…

Watch the Design Overview

View the report chronicling community-based recomendations for the future of the Underdeck!

The Underdeck Committee and the City of Miami have a significant milestone to celebrate. After more than a year of intentional and insightful community engagement, a 400-page comprehensive report chronicling community-based recommendations for the future development, management, and operation of The Underdeck was submitted to the Miami City Commission on December 5, 2022

View the Report

Join

Watch to learn more about The People’s Project

Working Groups

The Friends of the Underdeck have established four new Working Groups:

Awareness and Engagement Working Group

Governance and Intergovernmental Relations Working Group

Consensus Plan Advocacy – Design and Programming Working Group

Fund Development Working Group

Upcoming Events & Meetings

As we continue our efforts to meet members of the Miami community where they are, you can expect us to supplement our roster of formal community meetings with informational “Drop Ins” at neighborhood events and community activities. By connecting with our community at various locations and events throughout the city, we will be spreading the word and further details about the Underdeck and ways in which members of our community can get involved. You can also join us for our in-person and virtual Community Update meetings. Details of dates and locations can be found below.

Virtual Community Meetings

We are excited to announce a series of upcoming virtual community meetings. These meetings will provide a full historical overview of our work, explain our working groups, detail the sign-up process, and outline what the introductory working group meetings will cover during the summer. We will also discuss special activities linked to our national network partners, answer questions, review our progress and challenges, share our collective vision, and walk through our new website. Additionally, we will share plans for an official launch party. Please join us on the following dates, by registering:

See below for our next community meetings

June 24th at 11:30 A.M.

Click to RSVP

June 27th at 6:00 P.M.

Click to RSVP

June 28th at 9:00 A.M.

Click to RSVP

Previous Meetings

Select the meeting below you would like to know more about

June 7 2024

PASSCODE: P76*=cAE

February 2 2024

PASSCODE: 3%F^FTLs

February 5 2024

PASSCODE: 4f#3V?=B

February 13 2024

PASSCODE: u6a#vp!5

March 2023

PASSCODE: #*Zk5D19

April 2023

PASSCODE: ^?u*7#rD

May Executive Committee Meeting 2023

PASSCODE: zmm@a0y*

May 2023

PASSCODE: *5wdVFcS

September 2023

PASSCODE: YXw+W3^.

November 2023

PASSCODE: ac6b#x^F

December 2022

PASSCODE: +0*Pcp7i

October 2022

PASSCODE:

September 2022

PASSCODE: 

August 2022

PASSCODE: u=EZ9keX

July 2022

PASSCODE: 

June 2022

PASSCODE: 28u^7cIs

May 2022

PASSCODE: w0X$x8mm

April 2022

PASSCODE: $G.5Kk6G

April Executive Committee Meeting 2022

PASSCODE: v%y7yQzC

March 2022

Part 2 of 4

March 2022

Part 3 of 4

March 2022

Part 4 of 4

D.14

Sign up for our newsletter