Doral had no downtown for nearly 15 years. Now it has two.

By Andres Viglucci, Miami Herald

The first, which made its debut at the end of last year, is the initial phase of Downtown Doral, a meticulously planned town-within-a-city that puts residents in traditional, walkable proximity to main-street shops and dining, a supermarket, school, offices, a park and green spaces, not to mention the civically resplendent Doral City Hall.

On Friday, Downtown Doral will be joined by the new and nearby CityPlace Doral, a 55-acre urban center off Doral Boulevard that marries offices, million-dollar homes and 300 apartments built atop main-street shops to an intensive dining and entertainment hub, designed in a sharp contemporary style by Miami-based Arquitectonica. At its center is a large, oval public plaza with an oversized, computer-controlled “show” fountain that CityPlace’s developers say cost $4 million.

“This is Doral’s living room right here,” said Steve Patterson, president of Related Development, an arm of Miami developer Jorge Perez’s Related Group, as he walked visitors down CityPlace’s main street. Early this week, the roadway was buzzing with scores of construction and restaurant workers getting ready for the formal opening. Related built CityPlace in collaboration with Shoma Group’s Masoud Shojaee, who launched the project with a single office building several years ago.

Both Downtown Doral and CityPlace have their genesis in longstanding plans by the city’s founding administrators to establish a true urban center and identity. That’s something Doral has lacked since the area was part of unincorporated Miami-Dade and ruled by the county’s anything-goes zoning. The result was a series of residential enclaves sitting cheek-by-jowl with warehouse districts and next to landfills, a garbage-to-energy plant and massive county maintenance yards.

The city’s downtown mixed-use approach, dubbed Sprawl Repair by planners, entails undoing single-use, auto-dependent suburban zoning in strategically selected areas to permit the traditional intermingling of housing, work and shopping that has defined cities since the Middle Ages, Doral planning chief Julian Perez said.