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Tony Goldman is in love. The 67-year-old real estate redeveloper and founder of Goldman Properties talks about Wynwood with the same enthusiasm and passion he exudes when mentioning his family. After all, it's family that connects Goldman to the up-and-coming district.
Together with his daughter Jessica and son Joey, Goldman has been one of the driving forces behind Wynwood's transformation from gritty industrial neighborhood to Miami's artistic epicenter.
"I need to be in love to sustain the relationship," Goldman says. "And [Wynwood] is the great pedestrian neighborhood of the future." He's probably right.
In 1985, he saw the same potential in South Beach as he did in SoHo, where he had already established himself as a successful real estate developer and restaurateur. "At that time, I had a partner and we decided that Miami was the next great international city in the United States," he says.
"I went down and hit Ocean Drive. That was it for me — that was the moment. By the time I hit Sixth Street, I was out of the car, my heart was pumping. I was in love right there."
Soon, Goldman was buying properties around South Beach and tirelessly working to preserve the integrity of the neighborhood's art deco architecture. He renovated the Park Central Hotel and reopened it in 1987. A year later, he opened Lucky's, a four-star restaurant inside Park Central.
Goldman's daughter, Jessica Goldman Srebnick, joined the family business after spending five years as Saks Fifth Avenue's associate fashion director.
"As a professional, I've had to prove myself," she says. "I've had to bust my ass. I've had to work hard and prove that I am capable and that I belong in this position. This is his lifelong work."
As chief operating officer of the company's hotel division, Jessica oversees the company's South Beach hotel portfolio, including Park Central, the Hotel, and the AAA four-diamond, award-winning restaurant, Wish. But her most important role is mom.
"I am the mother of three young sons," she says, "and it's important for me to be a role model for other young women."
By the early '00s, Tony Goldman's South Beach interests were secure under the watchful supervision of his daughter. The time was right to embark on a new project.
"My son [Joey] was put on a mission to find us a new district in Miami," Goldman says. "He came up with this area and said, 'I think we have an area that's different than anything we've done before.'"
Captivated by Wynwood's grittiness, the Goldmans fell in love with the neighborhood. "Being urbanites and New Yorkers — street people — we're not in any way intimidated by the toughness of a community.
"What my son and I saw there was the kind of grittiest grid system we've seen in Miami — a collection of similar-style buildings with no distinct architectural value."
In other words, "the perfect setup for what did not exist in Miami — a central arts district."
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