Downtown Renaissance

The historic area of downtown Miami wasn’t high on the list of places to go in previous decades unless you were looking for electronics, luggage or jewelry.

Brickell Avenue long ago eclipsed Flagler Street as a location to do business, but the fortunes are starting to tilt back to the north side of the river.

A couple of months ago, I was reading yet another story about New York developer Moishe Mana’s purchases in downtown – 39 buildings and $300 million. I read about Colliers International broker Mika Mattingly and called her up to see if she would do an interview. Mattingly was totally engaging. She not only gave me an interview, she also gave me a tour of some of the properties.

I appreciated Mattingly’s enthusiasm as she talked about the potential of downtown. You can’t really appreciate the architectural gems in downtown unless you get out of your car and walk around.

We had a glass of wine at PB Station at the Langford Hotel, which is the type of chic dining spot you would expect to see in an urban core. Upstairs, the Pawn Broker bar provides live music and packs crowds into its rooftop deck, which has sweeping views of the skyline.

Mana has the ability to curate what’s happening in the downtown area and is plugged in heavily to the arts scene. His Mana Contemporary in New Jersey has taken a former tobacco warehouse and turned it into a place where painting, sculpture, photography, dance, film, sound, and performance art can all take place. He’s also active in the Wynwood arts scene and has made immense progress in planning a 9.72-million-square-foot mixed-use project on 23 acres.

SFBW consistently has covered the Brightline high-speed rail service, and our story on downtown also looks at how this will interact with, and help facilitate, the revival in the nearby historic area. My prediction is that Mana will be able to curate an interesting mix of the arts, retail, restaurants and residential space in downtown that will make it the region’s new hot attraction. It will get hot again just as Miami Beach did, and those of us in Broward and Palm Beach counties will find it pretty easy to hop aboard Brightline and have a night on the town.

Kevin Gale

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