Fall 2014 An Echo of the Miami Circle By Michael Bawaya
Over the course of approximately two years a vacant lot in the heart of downtown Miami will be transformed into METsquare, an atrium-style complex. METsquare, according to its developers, will give Miami something it lacks and clearly needs: a downtown “social and lifestyle destination” replete with stores, restaurants, entertainment venues and residential space suggestive of New York’s Times Square District.
The developer, MDM,purchased this valuable parcel approximately 10 years ago.Once it’s built,the METsquare complex will be a shining example of Miami 21, an initiative that, according to the City of Miami’s website, “represents the Miami of the 21st Century” by employing “a holistic approach to land use and urban planning. It provides a clear vision for the City that is supported by specific guidelines and regulations so that future generations can reap the benefits of well-balanced neighborhoods and rich quality of life.”
The METsquare lot is one of several parcels located in what has been a moribund section of downtown that are undergoing development with the goal of bringing that area to life. But these parcels also happen to be in a City of Miami Archaeological Conservation Area. The Miami Circle, a roughly 2,000-year-old Tequesta Indian ceremonial site that was discovered in 1998 and subsequently purchased by the county and state for nearly $27 million, is a short distance away. The circle was part of a large Tequesta village that was likely visited by the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon, who led the first European expedition to Florida in 1513. METsquare covers the remnants of another part of that village.