Michelle Puentes: Miami Lakes 2022

Biography

Photographed by Andrya CC by 4.0

Michelle Puentes is a sophomore student pursing a double degree in Art and Psychology with a Certification in Italian Language at Florida International University. She loves to explore and travel, learn new languages, draw and paint, play guitar and serve in her church. She aspires to become an art therapist for children with emotional or physical struggles, and wants to travel around the world to immerse in different lifestyles and appreciate the art and cuisine.

GEOGRAPHY

Miami Lakes is located in the northern part of Miami Dade County, neighboring Palm Spring North and Hialeah. It has a total square area of 6.4 square miles and is located at 25°54′42″N 80°19′30″W. Located 16 miles North of Downtown Miami and 10 miles from Miami International Airport, it crosses the streets NW 170th St and Palmetto Expressway to the North and NW 138TH to the South and extends latitudinally from NW 57TH Avenue (Red Road) (East) to Interstate 75 (West). The climate around this area is mostly wet tropical and humid, even in the land parts of Miami Lakes.

The urban landscape is compromised of 53% of Miami Lake’s land area, compromised of residential housing, office parks, and industrial areas. Modeled after New Urbanism, it contains shopping centers and services located within walking distances in narrow, walking streets. The streets are designed in the form of a small town, with many cul-de-sac streets in residential neighborhoods and curved streets. It contains apartment buildings, neighborhood shopping centers and a town center known as Main Street.

Photographed by Michelle Puentes CC by 4.0

On the other side, the natural landscape is full of tree canopies, lakes and greenery.Lakes and canals only constitute 13% of the land area, and 6% is undeveloped land. It contains a total of 4,363 acres and is around 3 feet in altitude.

HISTORY

Photographed by Unknown

In 1962, Miami Lakes began developing under Graham Companies, and was previously owned by Florida Senator Ernest Graham. The land was previously the Graham’s dairy farm, and was decided to be created into an adaptable city plan that would take decades of growth and construction based on changing market conditions. Developed by Lester Collins, a Harvard graduated landscape architecture and former dead of the Harvard School of Architecture, the original master plan contained many curved features, such as curving lakes and tree shaded roadways, which was uncommon compared to the usual square and rectangle features. He set forth the foundations of the town to from an integrated community that would contain residential, industrial and commercial areas.

Finally being incorporated into Miami Dade County in December 2000, it became the 31st Municipality in Miami Dade. It is currently one of the youngest cities in the county and is home to 30,000 residents and 1,100 businesses. Operated under a council-manager form of government, it is managed by several elected officials appointed by the town manager.

Today, it is known to be one of the most charming suburban areas in South Florida, with low crime rate, plenty of green space, tree shaded streets and large estate lots.

DEMOGRAPHICS

Miami Lakes currently has over 30,000 residents, claiming around 11,194 households. According the 2019 United States Census, its estimated population is 30,864, with a median age of 41.3 years. 66.1% are between the age of 15-65, 16.3% being 65 and older, and 17.6 % under 15. The demographics of sex is roughly split equally, females accounting for 53% of the population and males 47%. The race and ethnicity is prominently white and hispanic, accounting for 78.9% altogether. 88.3% identify as Hispanic or Latino, 9% as white, 1.5% as black, 1.3% as Asian and 12.1% as two races or more. Around 50.9% of the population are foreign born, most likely from Latin American countries such as Cuba and Colombia. The median household income is $77,535, with a poverty level at 6.4%. The median property value is almost half a million, at $410,300. The education levels are average , having 89.7% of people over the age of 25 having completed high school and 37.2% having completed a bachelors degree.

Interview:

How long have you lived in Miami Lakes and what do you think of this town?

I’ve lived here my whole life and I think it’s a great place to live because it has a small town feel.

What do you like about Miami Lakes?

I like going to Main Street because there are a lot of restaurants and it’s a nice place to walk around. My parents used to take me there when I was a kid so that spot means a lot to me growing up. Main Street also has a movie theater that is full of memories as a child and middle school years, so I enjoy it a lot.

What is your favorite aspect about this neighborhood?

I like how the town emphasizes greenery and tree canopies through shading, making it a more pleasurable experience to walk when it’s sunny. Miami Lakes has a lot of neighborhood parks to sit around the grass and enjoy the scenic view. There is also a very cool Fourth of July firework show.

What would you change about this neighborhood if you were the mayor?

I would try to decrease traffic flow and prioritize public transportation around the town. I would also add more attractions such as movie theaters, stores, or plazas.

LANDMARKS

Photographed by Michelle Puentes CC by 4.0

Main Street Miami Lakes

The main social hub of Miami Lakes, Main Street is a delightful plaza full of local restaurants, retail shops, offices, civic facilities and movie theaters that gather the community. It was developed by the Graham Companies in 1983, and ever since has been a mark of the development of Miami Lakes. It has been recognized by many national publications for the control of mix-use development. Overall, it has a very live ambience and is a nice place to take a stroll in the afternoon.

Shula’s Golf Course

Miami Lake’s official golf club, it is known as one of Miami’s best Championship golf courses with a variety of holes for all skill levels. It was originally designed by Bill Watts in 1962 and then remodeled in 1998 by Kipp Schulties, a golf course architect. Owning 500 acres, this golf club offers 18 challenging holes and has tree shading over the course for the most pleasant experience.

Veteran’s Memorial

On September 17, 2014, Miami Lakes unveiled a Veteran’s memorial in front of Miami Lakes Government center. On that day, more than 200 people attended to honor the veterans who fought for our country. First Class Petty Officer USCG and chair of Veterans Committee Angel Luis Vazquez stated ” This monument recognizes all the brave men and women who signed a blank check payable to the United States of America up to the amount of their life. I want to commend the members of the Veterans Committee who are dedicated and worked tirelessly to bring this Veterans Memorial project to the Town of Miami Lakes.” The artwork contains a large scale V for “veterans” with an American flag , created by Stephanie Werner and has commemorative bricks around to honor the soldiers.

GREEN

Photographed by Michelle Puentes CC by 4.0

Royal Oaks Park

A green space of Miami Lakes built with 4 athletic fields for soccer and flag football, a playground area, picnic pavilions, a 3/4 exercise trail, a butterfly garden and concession stand. It also has a recreation center and offers a community center to play dominoes and reserve large rooms for events and parties.

Miami Lakes Optimist Park

Photographed by Michelle Puentes CC by 4.0

A public park that is at walking distance for Miami Lake’s residents, this park features 4 baseball fields, one softball field, three picnic pavilions, three batting cages, 4 outdoor tennis courts, 2 soccer fields, 2 flag football fields, a 1/4 mile lighted walking path and even a marina for fishing! It is set up for residents to enjoy the lush greenery and beautiful climate of Florida.

Veterans Park

The Veterans Park is another of Miami Lake’s 99 parks, with renovated pavilions, half court basketball court, lighted walking path, playground, and fitness equipment. It offers a wonderful view for guests with a water fountain and lake for the view. This park also has the Mary Collins Community center for event venues and recreational activities.

FOOD

Brigadeiro’s Boutique

Photographed by Michelle Puentes CC by 4.0

A Brazilian family owned sweets shop, this location offers beautifully decorated Brazilian bakery and sweets available for catering, online orders and in store pickup. Their specialty is Brigadiero cake, which is a Brazilian chocolate cake filled with fudge candy. They also offer many types of cakes, such as cheesecake, carrot cake and passion fruit chocolate. If not in the mood for any sweets, they also offer empanadas, Brazilian bolinha de queijo and croissants.

Raspaos

This is an authentic Colombian restaurant that has two locations, one in Miami Lakes and another in Kendall. Having massive success, this restaurant was founded by Orlando Mosquera, and made the restaurant famous through its original recipe of Colombian Raspaos and Cholados. Offering a variety of meals, it has different types of ice creams, smoothies, arepas, fruit salads, Colombian plates and burgers. Overall, I love to order the arepa mixeta, full of shredded meat and cheese!

Ciboney Cuban Restaurant

A local Cuban restaurant offering many types of meals, this place contains a nice atmosphere that allows you to experience the Cuban ambience. Offering Daiquiris and Cuban Mojitos, it has live music and karaoke for anyone to enjoy. They have many plates to serve, such as seafood, pasta, fajitas, cuban sandwiches and salads.

BUSINESSES

A La Mode Hair and Boutique

Photographed by Michelle Puentes CC by 4.0

One of the many local shops in Main Street, Ala Mode is a hair salon that offers pampering services to make the customer feel beautiful. Their services include haircuts, color treatments, makeup,perms and relaxers and hair styles at convenient prices. They are a bilingual establishments and operate from Tuesday to Saturday.

Miami Lake’s Farmers Market

This Farmer’s Market is done weekly on Saturdays and offers a variety of fresh produce, assorted flowers, cultural foods, hand-crafted accessories and natural smoothies for anyone to enjoy. It is from 9am to 2pm and done at Miami Lakes Picnic Park West. It offers some of the best fruit juices that you can ever taste and has an overall enjoyable environment.

SQIN Med Spa

This luxury med spa is a special spa that offers treatments and services to achieve overall aesthetic and wellness goals. It uses advanced technology in order to offer services such as body sculpting, hydra facial, micro needling, body detox therapy, fibroblast plasma, and chemical peels. They also have membership services where you can maintain a healthy skin care routine and body with monthly treatments.

TRANSPORTATION

Photographed by Michelle Puentes CC by 4.0

Miami Lakes has several modes of transportation, including Freebee, Miami Dade Transit and South Florida Commuter Services. Installed in July 2021, Freebee was introduced by the Town of Miami Lakes, and attained through funding from Florida’s Department of Transportation. It contains free on-demand connections from the Town Hall or Picnic Park West to the Palmetto Metrorail station from Monday to Friday, 6am to 9am or 4pm to 7pm. It’s convenient transportation for those who do not own a vehicle and must reach Southern Miami Dade County, having access to the Palmetto Metrorail station immediately.Or alternatively, for those who have a vehicle and would like to avoid Miami’s high traffic hours, its a great way by taking the Miami Metro.

Miami Dade Transit is also another form of transportation, being the 15th largest public transit system in the U.S. Through the Metrobus, Metromover or Moover Bus, Miami Lakes is included in six different routes, all operating on weekdays. South FL Commuter Services is another form, having programs for carpooling and vanpooling around Miami Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

But from observations, since Miami Lakes has a high population of senior residents, walking is one of the most popular forms of transportation. Since Miami Lakes has New Urbanism model planning, most shopping centers and businesses are within walking distances, and many do so in order to save on gas and maintain their health.

SUMMARY

Photographed by Michelle Puentes CC by 4.0

Miami Lakes is a city full of life and greenery with it’s unique land development, classic Main Street and amazing transportation layout. It’s innovating city plan and incredible development have led to Miami Lake’s master plan being praised by nationwide Urban planners, with open streets, many green spaces, peaceful cul-de-sacs, and managed mix of exclusive business parks. There are many convenient chain stores within walking distance, such as Publix, CVS, Navarro and Walmart. The sidewalks are pedestrian friendly and there is always a live crowd in Main Street. The only main issue with this city is the traffic and road layout. Because the streets are so narrow and have excessive amount of traffic lights, it builds heavy annoying traffic during peak hours. My best advice is to go off road to reach your destination- usually you will make it faster than waiting in traffic. If they added more lanes to the road and less traffic lights, it would be a much more pleasant experience to live and visit Miami Lakes.

References

Ciboney, 7 June 2021, ciboneyrestaurantmiami.com/. 

Herrera, Alexandra. “Veteran’s Memorial Unveiled at Front of Miami Lakes Government Center.” The Miami Laker, 17 Sept. 2014, miamilaker.com/veterans-memorial-unveiled-at-front-of-miami-lakes-government-center. 

“History of Miami Lakes .” You Are Being Redirected…, http://www.miamilakes-fl.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=31&Itemid=166. 

A La Mode Hair Studio, http://www.alamode-hair.com/aboutus.php. 

“Miami Lakes Golf Club.” Miami Lakes Golf Club – Miami Lakes, FL, http://www.miamilakesgolf.com/. 

“Miami Lakes Transportation.” You Are Being Redirected…, http://www.miamilakes-fl.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=436&Itemid=491. 

“Raspaos .” Raspaos, 25 Aug. 2021, http://www.raspaos.com/. 

“Shop – Brigadeiros Boutique ” Brigadeiros Boutique – Sweets, Cakes and More, brigadeirosboutique.com/shop/page/2/. 

U.S. Census Bureau Quickfacts: Miami Lakes Town, Florida. http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/miamilakestownflorida. 

Miami Lakes Website http://www.miamilakes-fl.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=18&Itemid=153. 

Author: mpuen017

Michelle Puentes is a sophomore student pursing a double degree in Art and Psychology with a Certification in Italian Language at Florida International University. She loves to explore and travel, learn new languages, draw and paint, play guitar and serve in her church. She aspires to become an art therapist for children with emotional or physical struggles, and wants to travel around the world to immerse in different lifestyles and appreciate the art and cuisine.

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