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Bye-Bye Coconut Grove Convention Center, Welcome Regatta Park
Regatta Park is a 12-acre waterfront park that transformed the former site into a vibrant space that connects the general public to the waterfront.

Landscape Architecture by Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc.



Large live oaks span the graveled ADA accessible pervious path that connects the Expo Lawn and the Tropical Gardens. Curved-trunked Sabal palms (aback) break up the formality of the allee. Strollers can relax on custom concrete benches (Wausau Tile) and enjoy walks after dark, guided by the stylish column-based 50-watt LEDs ('230 Modular City Elements') from HessAmerica. There are 103 column lights in the park, including the playground. The lighting is designed to withstand 175 mph winds, a Miami code requirement.
Photos: CJ Walker Photography

Located in Miami's Coconut Grove neighborhood, Regatta Park is a 12-acre waterfront park that transformed the former site of the Coconut Grove Convention Center and large surrounding parking area into a vibrant space that connects the general public to the waterfront. The multidisciplinary park design team was led and managed by the landscape architects from conceptual design through construction administration.

Regatta Park is the first phase of implementation of the Coconut Grove Waterfront and Spoil Islands master plan, a catalyst for urban revitalization of the Coconut Grove neighborhood by redefining the urban context; strengthening the pedestrian experience; creating comfortable experiences along the water's edge by replacing vehicles with human activity; and accommodating a multitude of activities by instituting a community vision for the area.


1. City hall
2. Future mpa garage
3. Dockmaster facility
4. Expo lawn
5. Existing public art
6. Tropical gardens
7. Multi use path connection
To commodore bike trail
8. Monument sign
9. Drop-off
10. Promenade
11. Regatta lawn
12. Auxiliary parking
13. Marina parking
14. Existing baywalk
15. Existing hangar
16. Future building/retail
17. Seminole boat ramp
18. Commodore bike trail
19. Clipper circle
20. Park service area and Storage building
21. Stone bollards
22. Tree allee
23. Future boat hoist & regatta Launching dock
24. Lawn access gate
25. Children's play area

The layout of Regatta Park looks like a baseball field. Home plate is the 'Clipper Circle', just adjacent to Miami City Hall. The 1st base line is Pan American Drive. The run to 2nd base parallels the 'Commodore Bike Trail' and passes by the oak allee path, and the Tropical Garden. The sprint to 3rd base parallels a section of the promenade and borders a future launching dock for the marina. The race to the plate is between the Dinner Key Marina proper and the parking lot.

The project is the culmination of 40 public meetings and input from hundreds of residents, businesses, civic groups and experts in Coconut Grove and throughout Miami. The plan strives to transform the underused waterfront into a more cohesive and vibrant public space, and reorganize the former Coconut Grove Convention Center and Dinner Key Marina areas into a publicly accessible waterfront for recreation, education and live-aboards.

As the oldest neighborhood in Miami, Coconut Grove (pop. 19,646) was incorporated in 1919. It has a strong sense of place, in part because of its proximity to Biscayne Bay, its numerous mature trees and its oolite stone formations. Coconut Grove's history was an inspiration for the design from concept through the selection of its hardscape and landscape materials.



'Mast' trees Polyalthia longifolia and oolite limestone seating cubes populate the graveled promenade at the edge of the exposition lawn and children's play area. This choice was inspired by the natural oolite stone outcroppings in Miami's Coconut Grove area. Oolite is a Jurassic period limestone that formed in shallow seas from carbonate particles and grains of sand and shell fragments. It's often misidentified for coral. Portland limestone is oolitic.

One of the main goals was to maintain the local character of Coconut Grove, while increasing waterfront access and water views. The park is designed to be inclusive of the community so that visitors experience it as they see fit. For this reason, there are no programmed or active recreational uses within the park, only passive spaces that can accommodate individual and small group users, or large groups and special events. An example is the children's play area, which was designed as a large depression and a series of mounds with custom climbing structures and safety surfacing in lieu of the use of a traditional playground structure. The natural oolite limestone sink holes and the silver bluff ridge inspired the depression and mounds used for exercise and free play.

Since pedestrian access to the waterfront and other public spaces is an important feature of the park's design, parking was removed to create a centrally-located promenade that connects the park to City Hall, adjacent to waterfront restaurants and the marina. In addition to the promenade, the team designed several 10-foot wide curvilinear walkways along the perimeter of the park. The park's pedestrian walkways also connect to the Commodore Trail, a 5-mile paved pedestrian and bicycle route in Coconut Grove that connects to Old Cutler Trail, an 11-mile trail that runs through some of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the greater Miami area.


In lieu of traditional playground equipment, the play area has a custom linear, undulating climber (Landscape Structures) with rubberized surfacing and a circular patch of 'Playground Extreme' artificial turf. Designed as a large depression and a series of mounds, the project was inspired by the area's oolite limestone sinkholes and "Silver Bluff" ridge, a 2-mile long low limestone terrace near the shore between the Miami River and Coconut Grove. Some 130,000 years ago the sea level was about 23 feet higher than today.

Designing a public space that offers a garden feel while taking into consideration public safety and the use of local, low maintenance, high-quality and sustainable materials also was a priority. Custom designed hardscape elements such as coquina shell aggregate concrete walks, cut oolite limestone monument signs, bollards and seating cubes, as well as ADA-accessible fine gravel paths and seating areas, are some of the hardscape elements designed specifically for Regatta Park.


The park features precast concrete lounges that add sculptural elements to the park. Palm bracing is ubiquitous in Florida. The trunks are wrapped with adjustable nylon straps to hold preformed wooden blocks in place that accommodate 2x4s. The 2x4s can be wedged, nailed or screwed into place. It's not the most attractive arrangement, and can be tripping hazards.

Over 363 trees and palms were preserved and incorporated into the park's design. The mature southern live oaks trees inspired the creation of an allee, an ADA-accessible path that transects the site and provides a shaded connection between the east and west portions of the park. The tropical gardens area were inspired by the preservation of numerous large coconut palms that were under-planted with a variety of tropical shrubs and groundcovers as the backdrop to the park's picnic area.


The 'Green Malayan' coconut palms preserved in the park are under planted with a variety of tropical shrubs and groundcovers in the picnic area. Other palms in the park are of the Royal, Sabal and 'Satakentia' varieties. The parks picnic tables, custom benches and trash receptacles are from Wausau Tile ('Tectura Designs').

The existing trees and palms were incorporated into the park design and relocated on site. The areas of the park without existing vegetation were designated for the expo lawn--a large multiuse green space--or for the native hammock gardens, vegetated areas with 100% native flowering and evergreen trees, shrubs and groundcovers. These native landscape areas only require supplemental irrigation during drought conditions.


The playground also incorporates oolite cubes. Atop the safety surfacing, they also function as climbers.

The park has become a daily destination for locals. During special events it becomes a gathering space for large crowds of visitors and residents. The park offers quiet spaces--the tropical gardens and native hammock gardens--as well as large open spaces such as the expo lawn. The expo lawn balances daily use for unprogrammed recreational activities. It also showcases special events, including the Sailing World Cup Miami, a world class sailing event for top-level racing, and the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, South Florida's most successful arts festival that attracts around 120,000 people.


These triangular steel latticed pillars (20"x20"x 19.6' tall) near the terminus of the promenade accommodate LED lighting (Streetlife) in their bases.


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As seen in LASN magazine, March 2017.

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October 13, 2019, 6:47 pm PDT

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