Principles of Urban Development Applied to Miami’s Design District

While Miami native Craig Robins saw the potential for the Miami Design District, very few others embraced the possibilities for the area which was located under three miles from Miami’s flourishing downtown, five miles from Miami International Airport and less than seven miles from South Beach. He soon started using the principles of urban development to make converts and convince people that his ideas were correct resulting in 120 storefronts in the dynamic area.

Places for People

If you were to visit Miami’s Design District in the 1990s, you would discover many abandoned buildings and residents with some of the lowest incomes in Miami. Yet, Robins convinced artists that the area was right for them to open galleries in and soon word of the district began to spread like it did in West Germany, Detroit and Buenos Aires where artists had already revived communities.

Enrich the Existing

Miami already had a reputation for having one of the strongest luxury markets in the United States. Robins working alongside Asi Cymbal, acquired land and started convincing luxury retailers that the Design District was a great place to do business. One of the problems, however, was that retailers were not convinced that their would be enough foot traffic in the area to be successful.

Make Connections

In order to overcome this problem, Cymbal hired Robin Zendell to curate the area. Retailers already knew of Zendell’s abilities because she had successfully encouraged these same retailers to move into the Soho district where most enjoyed great success. Meanwhile, Robins also convinced artists to tell their friends about the great opportunities they were experiencing in the district.

Work with the Landscape

One of the reasons that Robins was drawn to the area are the many beautiful Art Deco buildings. While some have been torn down, many have been restored to their former grandeur to serve as home to thriving businesses and public institutions.
Manage the Investment

While many real estate investors lost money in 2008, it was a time of major importance in the Design District. As Cymbal sold his holdings to Robins, the time when things were slow allowed Robins to build strong networking opportinities that continue to help the district flourish.

Design for Change

Experts know that the best days for Miami’s Design District are yet to come. Allowing retailers to feel great about their investments here, the district has become one of only 33 recognized energy efficient districts in the United States.