Letters

Lincoln Road: It's "Ironic"
I just finished Jim Mullin's wonderful take on the new Lincoln Road ("Lincoln Road Miracle: From Scruffy Derelict to Enchanting Shoppers' Paradise," April 29). The only problem is that some people won't understand the irony!

As a merchant there for the past seven years, I have lived through it all and am dismayed at what is happening. I hope those of us who toiled and created the atmosphere that brought all the "biggies" to the Road will be missed. Mullin said it all.

Barbara Gillman
Miami Beach

Lincoln Road: Bongos for Bozos
Who needs a Bongos Cuban Cafe on Lincoln Road when we already have great places for Cuban food like David's Cafe II. By the way I would hate to see an Olive Garden restaurant on the Road. If I want processed food, there is always the frozen section at Publix.

Lincoln Road is special like Las Olas, not a tourist spot like Bayside Marketplace. Bongos will be a great addition to downtown, the new American Airlines arena, and Bayside.

A.J. Gonzalez
Miami Beach

Lincoln Road: So Go Ahead, Move to Aventura
Is Jim Mullin serious? I'm really pleased to read a positive opinion of the progress made on Lincoln Road, and I hope I don't sound like a "sneering elitist," but unlike Mr. Mullin, I just can't get that excited by the "enticing presence of Banana Republic, the Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma, and the Gap." I can shop through their catalogues. And Mr. Mullin is so right, you can find them at any mall in the country.

What is enticing to me is the cool kitchenware at real.life.basic, and the eclectic assortment of garden equipment at Atlantic Yard Company. As for hamburgers, why say "Johnny Rockets" when you can order the "U.S. 1 Burger" at Balans? And when it comes to pasta, Mr. Mullin must be kidding about wanting an Olive Garden. There's not enough space, even in New Times, to list all the eateries on Lincoln Road where you will find cheap and toothsome pasta. Did I mention Joffrey's Coffee Company? When I go there, I know I'm on Lincoln Road; when I'm at Starbucks, I could be anywhere.

As for the Gap and Banana Republic, should Mr. Mullin really need a pair of those wrinkled khakis with the shallow pockets, I'll sell him the five pair I was dumb enough to buy, or he can trek over to the Collins Avenue Gap outlet. Just take the ElectroWave shuttle down Washington Avenue and walk one block east.

No, Jim, if we had wanted Aventura, we would have moved to Aventura. It was Lincoln Road we wanted, with Romero Britto (so please don't give us a Disney store), and yes, even Mosley's, which has been there through it all (so don't give us Linens 'N Things).

I honestly hope developer Michael Comras is right and that the Road will benefit by having a proper balance of national, regional, and local tenants. I don't presume to speak for the merchants, but I will continue to support the locals if he doesn't mind.

As for the Regal Cinemas, I'll reserve judgment till I see how it feels to sit in one of their theaters. I just hope the developers figure out some better way to handle the parking problem than they did at the Shops at Sunset Place, if what I've read has any validity.

Norman S. Levy
Miami Beach

Lincoln Road: And What's So Bad about Vanilla?
Innovative? Exciting? I really think Jim Mullin has lost his edge. His gushing about the mallification of Lincoln Road, complete with multiplex, leads me to believe the guy who writes for such a cutting-edge paper has gone dull.

The charm of the Road has always been the unexpected things you would encounter each and every time you went shopping there. The range of retail presented a welcome relief from the vanilla of the overabundance of shopping malls in Miami-Dade.

A year ago, when I was making one of my frequent shopping trips to the Road looking for the unique and unusual, I spotted a Brookstone lurking on a corner near the east end of the mall. My stomach turned a bit and I realized that the days of true innovations in shopping were coming to an end.

There seems to be hope, however. Recently while cruising north on Biscayne Boulevard (yes, Biscayne Boulevard!), in the area of Morningside and Belle Meade, I noticed new shops and cafes that echo the feel of what Lincoln Road used to be. I checked a little further and found that this area offers the sort of thing the Road used to offer: low rent, diamond-in-the-rough older buildings, and a nice customer base nestled by the bay. I started to think that maybe this is where the real innovators of Lincoln Road are going.

Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but if I'm forced to go to a suburban-type mall complete with multiplex and a Gap (oh boy, how unique!), I might as well have air conditioning.

Martin Alexander
Miami

Lincoln Road: Orlando, Here We Come!
Mr. Mullin's column about Lincoln Road brings back memories of what Miami Beach once was: a very beautiful and rewarding place to live until the greedy developers and sometimes-corrupt city officials screwed up everything. Lincoln Road will be just another played-out attraction with no personality other than mainstream America comu-franchi-nism: boring.

I will always love Miami, but it's starting to look like Orlando and its theme-park attractions and busloads of tourists. Maybe some Miamians should come up here to the Big Apple for a while and see that a city is not only made of beautiful beaches and perfect weather, but also of every soul who lives in it and redefines it each day. That New York has. Miami doesn't.

Miguel Fernandez
New York City

Lincoln Road: Dissent from Popular Praise
Jim Mullin's article about the renaissance of Lincoln Road was most welcome, but I challenge a particular phrase. Mullin said South Miami's Shops at Sunset Place was "universally acclaimed."

It is, rather, universally condemned by the thousands of motorists who must pass by the Red Road approach to the Shops at Sunset, which ties up South Dixie Highway. Traffic is backed up for blocks in both directions on Dixie at all hours of the day and night.

It is reported that South Miami merchants are planning to hire a public relations agency to combat the negative feelings about the gigantic insult to the environment. They don't need a PR firm. They do need some innovative engineering to alleviate the intolerable delays. And we haven't yet seen the Shops open during a Christmas season.

Jim, please praise Lincoln Road often. But forget about South Miami.
Gerald Schwartz
Miami Beach

Lincoln Road: Now Here Is a Visionary
Thank you, Jim Mullin, for "Lincoln Road Miracle." Finally we have a journalist with the courage to write what one reader feels. For a long time now I've missed having a Gap store on Lincoln Road.

There, it's out. I know some readers will disagree. But thank you, New Times, for giving me the courage to write this letter about fabulous Lincoln Road. Remember when all those artists no one could understand were on the Road? They needed to use more colors! Like clothes at the Gap. I mean, we need entertainment. That's what we want.

Three cheers for the people who got it done, especially those folks who work behind the scenes: the lawyers and lobbyists who get such a bad rap in the mainstream press. If this is a secret conspiracy to get the Gap in, it sure is a pleasant one! With all the bad news in the world today, this is the kind of victory people need. Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma, Banana Republic -- these guys really rock! You can tell from their catalogues that we need this type of merchant.

Now, one suggestion. There is not enough storage space in these small restaurants where we'll be eating after we shop. How about small storage kiosks? You don't really need all that foliage there. And with all those pretty models in town, you could probably hire some and give them little chits to hand out in return for storing your purchases. Maybe they could wear Gap clothes and it wouldn't cost taxpayers anything because it would be kind of a promotional thing.

You also might think this a little presumptuous, but how about video surveillance cameras so we can dance at Cuban cafes on Lincoln Road without worrying about someone stealing our things. When Mr. Mullin recommended that, I just about flipped because that is what I've been thinking all along! But the fact is I am concerned about Rollerblading thieves.

One more thing (I hope you can print this all). Thank you for highlighting the new Lincoln Road's movie theater with only 300 parking spaces instead of the 3000 required by some rule invented by people who like to frustrate other people. Where would we have found a space for a 3000-car parking garage on Lincoln Road? And parking garages are dangerous places. At the Shops at Sunset Place in South Miami they have one on the other side of U.S. 1 and no one uses it!

We would need more surveillance and more police on bicycles with regard to the Rollerbladers.

Anyhow 80 percent of Americans are obese, and so walking from, say, Fifth Street to Lincoln Road will improve the general fitness of people and is a good idea. That's for people who don't dance at Cuban cafes, of course. You can really work up a sweat doing the merengue, but it is not for everyone, like Anglos. And you should recommend that there be at least two more Gap stores on Alton Road for the walk back to my car.

Finally thanks to Mr. Mullin for drawing the parallel between the new Lincoln Road and the Shops at Sunset Place. Finally people are being forced to walk around South Miami. I for one swear that in the old days you always had to drive and pass by those little shops that never carry things you can buy at the Gap. And probably the workers in the little stores don't have health care, so they are better off working at the Gap.

Anyhow, one more thing? The best thing about the Shops at Sunset is the imitation banyan tree out front on Sunset. It is a true signature piece. It is done so well, the plastic leaves are almost real. In fact they are so close they fool songbirds who flock there because it is so cool and shady. How nice to have all those songbirds greeting you on the way to shop!

It can be relaxing on Lincoln Road this way, too. Maybe the city leaders of Miami Beach could consider this in the future with respect to the trees on Lincoln Road, because if we hired artists to make trees, it would put them to work and lower the tax base and we could attract stores like Circuit City, where you can buy the video surveillance cameras at prices that are coming down, down, down, and improve the safety of shoppers.

And this might also work for the Everglades, where if you had plastic leaves you wouldn't need all that water and we could have Gap stores out there, too. More people like lawyers and lobbyists could get hired to make these ideas work, and that would be good for the economy because these people have been very unfairly knocked and they contribute to the economy.

Anyhow that's just a recommendation! Maybe Mr. Mullin could use this as a topic for an editorial in the future. Keep up the good work! And remember, everything trickles into the Gap!

Name Withheld by Request
Miami

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