Both New York's SoHo and Miami Beach's South Beach were once forgotten urban districts: SoHo full of warehouses and factories, SoBe home to poverty, the elderly, and all sorts of vice. Then came the cool people and creative class, shortly followed by the developers and eventually the fancy shopping, boutique hotels, and worldwide recognition.
In both cases, one of the earliest developers who championed the neighborhoods was Tony Goldman, and for the better part of the past decade, he has set his sights on Wynwood. Goldman came in as the neighborhood began making its transformation from an ethnically Puerto Rican industrial neighborhood into the center of Miami's artistic and cultural rebirth. The change hasn't been quite as quick or dramatic as those in SoBe or SoHo, but Goldman still thinks the place has potential.
The New York Times checked in on Goldman's progress:
Mr. Goldman said he sensed Wynwood's potential the first time he saw it. The area had a critical mass of similar-looking small-scale buildings, a street grid, sidewalks and structures built right to the property line -- the essential ingredients for a signature Goldman neighborhood.
"Wynwood spoke to me right away," said Mr. Goldman, who is based in New York but has offices in Miami, Philadelphia and Boston. "It had an urban grit that was ready to be discovered and articulated." Another advantage was that the district could be redeveloped without displacing the surrounding Puerto Rican neighborhood, he said
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Goldman's company owns much of the best property in Wynwood, and he's the owner of the popular restaurant Joey's.
But the expansion of Wynwood faces two problems: the current architecture doesn't quite have the charm of South Beach's Art Deco or SoHo's cast iron, and like all development plans in Miami, the recession and burst of the housing bubble have slowed progress. However, Goldman says he's willing to stick it out and is in Wynwood for the long-term.
In the meantime, he's making the best of what he's got. Wynwood's nondescript buildings makes perfect canvasses for street art, and Goldman has recruited some of the best street artists and allowed them to leave their mark in Miami.
Murals might be far from SoBe's and SoHo's fancy dining and endless chain-store shopping, but the world has enough Gap and Urban Outfitter stores, and we're not complaining. Take your time, Mr. Goldman.