Culture

SkateBird Miami Is a New Skatepark Packed With Uncommon Amenities

Donny Watson glides through pump track ramps.
Photo by Jesse Fraga
Donny Watson glides through pump track ramps.
SkateBird Miami is a one-stop hub for streetwear enthusiasts, foodies, bar hoppers, and all-wheel sports — the first of its kind in Florida.

The new, 32,000-square-foot skatepark, located on the Upper Eastside a few blocks north of the 79th Street Causeway and just west of Biscayne Boulevard, features an outdoor street-style plaza for traditional tricks and a covered pump track made to withstand Florida's unpredictable rainfall. The pump track holds a 15,000-square-foot continuous loop of deep banks and turns, which pumps the rider's momentum up and down the circuit.

The space also tempts nonskaters with frequent retail pop-ups, fashion shows, concerts, and art exhibitions.

Founder and CEO Jonathan "Joner" Strauss considers Skatebird to be "the newest concept in sports and entertainment."


"We want to provide that great fashion lifestyle event space, but with skateboarding as its epicenter," Strauss says. "It's going to be a nice, clean, sleek skatepark with plenty of amenities to enjoy, shop around, check out the latest and greatest of the [skate and art] industries."

Strauss notes that the space is less than 30 minutes away from South Florida's largest skate communities: Miami Beach, downtown Miami, and Aventura.

"Skateboarding has always been a key influencer in almost every fashion and lifestyle movement in Miami," he says. "We're giving the answer as to what is lacking in public skateparks, which is there's never amenities for families to take advantage of, like shade structures, water fountains, or bathrooms."

SkateBird solves all that.
click to enlarge Jonathan Strauss kneels next to his landlord and longtime friend Don Bailey, 88, at SkateBird Miami. Bailey is commonly known for his partially naked flooring billboards across South Florida. - PHOTO BY JESSE FRAGA
Jonathan Strauss kneels next to his landlord and longtime friend Don Bailey, 88, at SkateBird Miami. Bailey is commonly known for his partially naked flooring billboards across South Florida.
Photo by Jesse Fraga
The park's creative team developed a Miami Vice-themed facility to hone a full-service kitchen and bar, featuring a specialty craft beer, SkateBird Brew.


"We call it a laid-back lager, to go with all of the action sports where you want to work hard, play hard, then party and relax," Strauss says.

Additionally, the two-story mezzanine — built of recycled materials from Port Miami — features several event spaces to spotlight visual artists, musicians, and clothing designers.

"We're going to have curated artists that will utilize some of the pods as their galleries, some of the most influenced art from the skateboard world," Strauss adds.

This isn't his first trek around the skate scene. Strauss also founded Skateboard Supercross (SBSX), a skatepark design and education company assisting with over 5,000 parks worldwide.

Donny Watson, SkateBird's creative director, drove out from skate capital Los Angeles when he heard about Strauss' newest addition. He said the park's unique features surpass even Miami's first and largest public skatepark, Lot 11.

"I'm a skater of 20 years, and there's nothing like it," Watson says. "When it's raining, the only other place you can go [in Miami] is maybe Lot 11, but there's holes everywhere in the roof. So if it starts raining [or] if it's nighttime, you can skate here because there's lights and coverings."
click to enlarge The SkateBird Miami team takes a business call in preparation for opening day. - PHOTO BY JESSE FRAGA
The SkateBird Miami team takes a business call in preparation for opening day.
Photo by Jesse Fraga
Watson notes that the park caters to all skill levels — a feature many parks overlook.

"It's crazy. We have a step-up, crazy corners, ledges, stairs, rails, and a humongous pump track," he says. "You don't have to be a professional skater to enjoy this place."

Monthly and yearly memberships are available and offer exclusive access to programming, happy hour, merchandise, and extended park hours.

The facility is currently open for limited hours, leading up to the grand opening celebration December 3-5, during Miami Art Week. The three-day kickoff, Buzz Basel, will include haircuts, a ribbon-cutting, live music, and open skating.

"Buzz Basel is going to be a really cool barbershop event, bringing celebrity barbers [giving] haircuts for charity," Strauss explains. "You can come here, see the skateboarding, then go to the rest of the shows all around town. This is just the start of SkateBird."

SkateBird Miami. 533 NE 83rd St., Miami; skatebirdmiami.com. Monday through Friday noon to 8 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday noon to 8 p.m.