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Revitalizing Warehouse Districts: The Design District

Going to the Miami Design District is a journey not only of place but also of emotion; imagine the delight of discovering something around every corner; a fascinating piece of art, an exotic dish or a chair you never knew you had to have.

Published November 30, 2010 in Neighborhoods      37 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


feature

About The Miami Design District



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The Design District is a neighborhood north of Midtown in Miami, Florida, United States. It is within the Buena Vista and southern extremity of Little Haiti neighborhoods. It is roughly divided by NE 36th Street to the south, NE 43rd Street to the north, NW 1st Avenue to the west and Biscayne Boulevard (US 1) to the east.

It is home to over 130 art galleries, showrooms, creative services, stores, antiques dealers, eateries and bars. Every 2nd Saturday of each month a community wide Art & Design Night is held from 7-10pm. A popular event, Art Galleries and Design Showrooms open their doors to the public for music and refreshments.
 
Credited to starting the district is Craig Robins, who purchased many run-down buildings in the 18 square block area and persuaded many top designers, such as Alison Spear, Holly Hunt and Peter Page to relocate.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Design_District













History of the Miami Design District



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"During the 1920s T.V. Moore, the 'pineapple king,' transformed one of his pineapple plantations (the other was in today's Miami Shores) into what became downtown Buena Vista (NE 40th Street). His imposing Moore's Furniture Company opened in 1921. Buena Vista also had a large movie theatre called the Biltmore. Moore also built a large home and subdivided much of the area now called the Buena Vista East Historic District. In 1924 Buena Vista was incorporated as a town but was then annexed by the City of Miami in September 1925."
 
By the late Thirties much had changed: Moore focused less on growing pineapples and more on growing the neighborhood. He had help from Richard Plummer, an interior decorator who served the rich and famous new residents of Miami. The powerful influence of Moore and Plummer over the next several decades transformed Buena Vista into the Design District, a center for home furnishings. The Moore Building defined the District's center.
 
When hard times hit Miami in the Eighties, another set of developers lured businesses away from the Design District to a brand new "mall like" environment in Broward County called Design Center of the Americas (DCOTA). Featuring the ultimate in designer home products, DCOTA served developers in Broward while still easily accessible to the established customer base in Dade. The Design District declined.
Full article: http://www.miamidesigndistrict.net/article.php?pubID=72












Redevelopment History



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Within a few years other players joined the movement. Among the early and energetic associates was Craig Robins. Several years out of law school, Robins was bright, artistic, and hungry to learn. He quickly realized that he could accomplish extraordinary success by buying a critical mass of undervalued property then implementing a clear vision of what that property could become.
 
His role in reinventing South Beach made Robins keenly aware of the potential of the Design District, which he discovered when he helped a friend purchase property in the neighborhood in 1991. Three years later, Robins began to purchase buildings in the District for himself. In 1994 he bought four buildings for a total of 50,000 square feet. In 1995 he bought The Moore Building, bringing his total square footage to 100,000. The following year he added five more buildings, amounting to a total 250,000 square feet.
 
Over the next five or six years he collected another building or two every year so that his collection of eighteen small and mid-size buildings plus vacant land now adds up to nearly 500,000 square feet.
 
Craig saw the District as a self-contained neighborhood like South Beach. This time around, rather than a sandy playground, he says, his goal was "to create Miami's creative neighborhood." He planned to restore the Design District to its earlier function as a center for design and home furnishings. Because, he says, he wanted to "bring design to the street and out of the mall" he rejected the idea of making the center open "to the trade only." Instead he concentrated on making the district more accessible and inviting to the general public.
 
Craig identifies several milestones in the District's redevelopment: the arrival of Knoll Furniture in 1998, of Holly Hunt in 1999, plans for the South Florida version of Art Basel in 2001, and the move by the Latin Academy of the Recording Arts and Sciences (the organization that hosts the Latin Grammys) to the neighborhood in 2003.

Full article: http://www.miamidesigndistrict.net/article.php?pubID=72













Applying to Jacksonville

Blessed with existing infrastructure and available buildings, urban Jacksonville is home to many underutilized areas where the process that revived this South Florida neighborhood could also take place.  Here are five Jacksonville neighborhoods where an assortment of galleries, lofts and unique businesses could make sense for future utilization in the future.

1. Springfield Warehouse District



Blessed with a unique assortment of historic architecturally significant structures, this district will be the future location of a commuter rail station providing direct access to downtown and Jacksonville International Airport.


2. Riverside Brewing District



Already home to two popular microbreweries, this small district has a number of spaces still available for use.


3. Myrtle Street Warehouse District



Just west of downtown and I-95, this district contains a large number of underutilized brick building that are obsolete for today's warehousing and manufacturing needs.


4. LaVilla Warehouse District



After years of demolition, what's left of this former furniture district between the Prime Osborn and Duval County Courthouse may be the city's oldest remaining warehouse district.


5. Dennis Street Warehouse District



Still blessed with the majority of its mid-20th century building fabric in place, this forgotten area offers several possibilities for future reuse.


For more information on the Miami Design District: http://www.miamidesigndistrict.net

Photos by Ennis Davis







37 Comments

Noone

November 30, 2010, 05:14:20 AM
Great work.

Still looking for that parking meter.

The one pic looked like a handicapped spot with free parking in front and behind. Very inviting.

Field, North Miami and anyone else but I just had a thought. How about the Bay St. Pier Park District?

Robins has amassed 18 buildings.

How about 10 containers? various sizes and uses? We are a port city.

Lets get to Work- Just not in Jacksonville.

strider

November 30, 2010, 08:20:12 AM
http://photos.metrojacksonville.com/gallery/14810586_H2wFY#1104856094_osEAN
Interesting artwork on the side of the building.

If that was in Jacksonville, the building owner would be cited for graffiti.

Sort of says a lot about why progress is a bit slow here.

While some of the plans shown to us for the warehouse district in Springfield have the warehouses mostly residential, it has always made more sense to me to keep them commercial and industrial.  Things like custom furniture making, glass blowing, ceramics and even things like custom car work and custom boat building can be open for the public to view.  Be entertained and shop at the some time.  Think of how popular the reality TV shows are about such things. That would, of course promote eateries and clubs  as well, if not next door, but down the road, just a short street car ride away. In my mind, none of it works without the fixed base transportation in place, and preferably street car to make it a destination for more than just local residents.

finehoe

November 30, 2010, 09:48:54 AM
Still looking for that parking meter.

The Design District has parking meters.  Look at the picture of the Spinello Gallery and the picture of the mural and you will see them.

Captain Zissou

November 30, 2010, 09:52:17 AM
Quote
He quickly realized that he could accomplish extraordinary success by buying a critical mass of undervalued property then implementing a clear vision of what that property could become.


What a genius!!! If only someone so visionary would be sent to save our fair city as well!!!!

What a common sense plan, but when executed well, made a huge difference.  I would love to do something similar in La Villa or Springfield.  We do have a great building stock to make something like this of our own.  We just need a few people with a little money and a lot of energy to get this moving. 

thelakelander

November 30, 2010, 10:06:23 AM
Still looking for that parking meter.

The Design District has parking meters.  Look at the picture of the Spinello Gallery and the picture of the mural and you will see them.

They have smart meters in South Florida.  Typically, there's one meter per block, you purchase your time on that meter and it gives you a receipt that you stick on your dashboard.


A smart meter in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

finehoe

November 30, 2010, 10:18:10 AM
They have smart meters in South Florida.  

Whatever you call them, they serve the same purpose.  In places other than Jacksonville, it's difficult to make the argument that meters are responsible for killing an area's vitality.

thelakelander

November 30, 2010, 10:29:16 AM
^I'm not making an argument for or against meters and that's not reflected in the article.  I was just responding to the posts made by you and Noone.  They have meters in South Florida, they're just more end user friendly (accept credit cards, dimes, nickels, etc.).  However, they also have better mass transit, so depending on what district you're in, you don't need a car at all.  For example, I took an image of the meter in Fort Lauderdale because I drove in and parked on the street.  On the other hand, I didn't think about meters in Brickell and Downtown Miami because I took the train in from Medley.  Nevertheless, I did notice that a couple of private surface parking lots in the heart of Miami were around $5/day.

finehoe

November 30, 2010, 10:56:24 AM
^^No, but that seemed to be Noone's point and it is a common refrain on the MJ forums that parking meters are somehow to blame for nobody going downtown.  I'm simply noting that paying for on-street parking is a way of life in most American cities, so it is hardly the business-killer it is often made out to be by some on MJ.  People don't stay away from downtown Jacksonville because they have to pay to park, they stay away because there is nothing there that makes it worthwhile to pay to park.

thelakelander

November 30, 2010, 11:05:52 AM
Downtown not being end user friendly is the problem.  Parking enforcement and outdated meters help play a role in that but those are a couple of many problems that downtown has to deal with.

finehoe

November 30, 2010, 11:28:14 AM
Parking enforcement and outdated meters help play a role in that but those are a couple of many problems that downtown has to deal with.

An extremely minor role.  You could install smart meters, or eliminate them completely tomorrow, and there would still be no reason for people to go there.

stephendare

November 30, 2010, 11:31:47 AM
Parking enforcement and outdated meters help play a role in that but those are a couple of many problems that downtown has to deal with.

An extremely minor role.  You could install smart meters, or eliminate them completely tomorrow, and there would still be no reason for people to go there.

You mean other than: the JMOCA, the Times Union Performing Arts Center, the Florida Theatre, the Karpeles Museum, the Old City Cemetary, FSCJ Downtown Campus, Urban Enterprise Center, The Riverwalk, 10 nightclubs, two of the City's more prominent private clubs, and the new Library

thelakelander

November 30, 2010, 11:34:05 AM
There are already several businesses operating in downtown.  I would say smart meters combined with end user friendly parking enforcement would enhance opportunities for them.  End users should not feel like they are being punished for visiting downtown.

finehoe

November 30, 2010, 11:39:08 AM
It wasn't my intention to highjack this thread.

If you haven't been to the Design District, it should be on your list of things to do next time you're in Miami.

It's a little high-end to transfer directly to Springfield, but the concept of a unified district is one that could be a success in our fair city.

thelakelander

November 30, 2010, 12:30:17 PM
In Springfield, I could see incorporating and building around the industry and businesses that are already in the district.  If I can remember correctly, there's Swisher, a millwork manufacturer, an auction house, recycler and Habijax operating in that area.  I don't know if an unified theme is necessary but all the businesses there appear to be locally owned and operated.  From a historical perspective, it was a pretty diverse mix of establishments operating there.

stephendare

November 30, 2010, 12:32:43 PM
There is actually a much more vibrant maritime tradition in the area, Lake.  Design, aquaculture, and medical industries would be an amazing district.

Bativac

November 30, 2010, 01:46:49 PM
^^No, but that seemed to be Noone's point and it is a common refrain on the MJ forums that parking meters are somehow to blame for nobody going downtown.  I'm simply noting that paying for on-street parking is a way of life in most American cities, so it is hardly the business-killer it is often made out to be by some on MJ.  People don't stay away from downtown Jacksonville because they have to pay to park, they stay away because there is nothing there that makes it worthwhile to pay to park.

This, a thousand times.

Traveling up the east coast a couple weeks back, we paid to park in NYC, Boston, Washington DC and a couple other small cities in New Hampshire and Connecticut. Millions of people paid to park because there was stuff to do (other than the handful of attractions and lunch eateries in downtown Jax).

Of course, the parking doesn't help.

Back to the topic at hand, it would be awesome to see something like what was done in Miami happen in Jax. It would take some serious money and somebody with vision (and patience) behind it. But having driven around some of the abandoned warehouses pictured, I can totally see that... With or without metered parking.

thelakelander

November 30, 2010, 01:47:07 PM
Historically, the Springfield Warehouse District was dominated by the food and beverage industry, in addition to Swisher.  Dorsey Baking Company (bakery), Merita Bread (bakery), Coca Cola (bottling) and Setzer (grocery store warehouse) occupied the largest buildings between 12th & 14th Streets.  













Other businesses included Dozier Paint, Chevrolet Parts Depot, Aetna Iron & Steel, and Hutting Sash & Door.  What is the maritime tradition of the Springfield Warehouse District?  That would add a layer that hasn't really been told.

stephendare

November 30, 2010, 02:49:11 PM
Well, actually that brings in a bit of my family history.  We made, serviced, designed and repaired Boilers for many decades. If you go down 8th street, once you pass the 20th Street expressway overpass, the community of maritime engineers, technicians, patternmakers and etc was based there for many long years.

That labor pool and that community experience is still there, of course, they don't live so far away.  I don't think there are any skilled bottlers left in town are there?  Perhaps some niche tobacco products...

I wasnt referring to industries left over from the warehousing district, just the skill sets that remain in the community.

These are growth industries here in our town whose modern iteration doesnt have a central base yet.

The Warehouse district provides the kind of spaces necessary for them.

tpot

November 30, 2010, 03:11:45 PM
yes, we pay to park EVERYWHERE in Miami and Miami Beach.  Most meters are enforced 24 x 7.  But as someone mentioned there are pay lots that are not too expensive and our meters are very easy to use.   They take cash, coin and credit card and you can pay for multiple hours at a time...........very easy to use, unlike Jacksonville's downtown........

Heck even if you drive to a friends condo in Brickell, 99% of the time you will have to valet park your car usually starting around $10 or so an hour. Some nights I will spend up to $60 on parking and valet in one night if I am hitting different locations...........but it's Miami.......and you pay to play....

Bativac

November 30, 2010, 04:05:34 PM
Any idea if the "Setzer" is related to Leonard Setzer of National Merchandise and Pic-N-Save?

billy

November 30, 2010, 04:26:02 PM
Yes, I think so.

thelakelander

November 30, 2010, 04:37:13 PM
^yes, it is.

fsujax

November 30, 2010, 04:47:41 PM
I remember when there was a Pic-N-Save warehouse in the warehouse district. My uncle used to work there.

simms3

December 01, 2010, 12:29:03 PM
What I would like to see for Jacksonville is for us to attract the attention of reputable furniture/home design studios like Clive Christian and Mitchell Gold/Bob Williams, etc.  I always pick up the new Florida Design magazines from Publix (yes they sell them up here in Atlanta and I don't buy, just thumb through), and every featured house/condo/commercial space is from somewhere in S FL, Orlando, or Tampa Bay, and every design ad stems from a studio in S FL, or a national studio with an office in S FL, Orlando, and sometimes Tampa.  We are never on the list or ever featured.  I think we have some mighty fine architectural studios here and people here are doing great things, but we just aren't on the radar.  Heck, Atlanta is barely on the radar compared to Miami and the world's largest mart complex is here, ADAC is here, several national studios/furniture/kitchen/tile studios are here, etc.

If there were going to be one area where Jacksonville concentrated design studios, I would not even currently guess any of the abandoned warehouse districts.  I would guess the Phillips/University area where SCANDesign is.

finehoe

December 01, 2010, 01:44:06 PM
What I would like to see for Jacksonville is for us to attract the attention of reputable furniture/home design studios like Clive Christian and Mitchell Gold/Bob Williams, etc. 

I'd like to see that too, but I don't think Jacksonville can compete with South Florida which has already taken that niche.  Jacksonville needs to stop trying to copy other places and come up with a unique brand so that when people think of ______, they think of Jacksonville.

duvaldude08

December 01, 2010, 02:30:44 PM
I remember when there was a Pic-N-Save warehouse in the warehouse district. My uncle used to work there.

Oh yes. Before the glory days of wal mart, Pic-n-saver was the place to be. I acutally kind of miss Pic-N-Save to be honest.

mtraininjax

December 01, 2010, 03:35:03 PM
Quote
They take cash, coin and credit card and you can pay for multiple hours at a time...........very easy to use, unlike Jacksonville's downtown........

Why should the City spend money on new meters or a new parking system downtown? No one uses the parking decks or the meter down there now as it is. There is hardly any nightlife North of Forsyth Street (Jerry I rope you into Forsyth, since you are between Forsyth and Adams), so why again do we need to spend thousands on a parking system when the City is better at providing services, than jump starting a downtown renaissance?

What is the update on the Library, anyone know? I saw Mark Rinaman at the River Keeper event, forgot to ask him as I chatted with his beautiful wife Lisa. I don't even know if Mark is still involved with the library, but any info would be great! TIA

Great pictures above Lake!

Captain Zissou

December 01, 2010, 04:05:46 PM
^What business owners are going to want to open in an environment that is hostile to its customers??  In order to magically jump-start this renaissance that you believe is just waiting to happen, we need to first reduce the negative aspects of doing business downtown.

Funding or assistance would go a lot further if there was a positive business environment downtown.

CS Foltz

December 01, 2010, 07:18:07 PM
This is something that the upcoming mayoral candidates need to voice on! Hopefully they all have something to say about the situation............warehouses, empty stores and downtown!

mtraininjax

December 05, 2010, 07:31:17 AM
Quote
we need to first reduce the negative aspects of doing business downtown.

Such as.................

thelakelander

December 05, 2010, 09:15:56 AM
Let's not fool ourselves into thinking DT is all peaches and cream. There is a reason it continues to decline. You can start with parking enforcement, poor business visibility due to restrictions, bad image, confusing one way streets, vagrants, and poor public coordination.

thelakelander

June 05, 2012, 07:32:56 AM
Developer unveils project to transform Miami’s Design District into upscale pedestrian promenade



A proposed $312 million makeover of Miami’s Design District would carve out a mini-Lincoln Road mall with luxury fashion shops, restaurants and public spaces.

full article: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/06/04/2832902/developer-unveils-project-to-transform.html

finehoe

June 05, 2012, 11:24:23 AM
The Jacksonville version:

Developer unveils project to transform Jacksonville Warehouse District into suburban wasteland

Developer Raig Crobins’ plan to turn Jacksonville’s Warehouse District into a retail destination entails paving a four-acre parking lot in the heart of the compact neighborhood, which would also get an extensive makeover — by removing mature shade trees.
The ambitious scheme, which gets its first public airing before the city’s planning and zoning board on Wednesday, would create a smaller-scale version of any Wal-Mart location, though one lined with dollar stores, and dotted with fast food outlets and sun baked public plazas to discourage lingering.
 â€œWe’ve done the same thing we’ve always done, even though we know it’s never really worked,” Crobins said during a presentation to reporters Monday at the trash-strewn Warehouse District offices of the development group he leads, CRAPA. “It’s about redefining retail and creating a sterile suburban community at the heart of the city of Jacksonville.”
The detailed blueprint, which CRAPA submitted to the city last week as a “Special Area Plan’’ under the Jacksonville 19 zoning code, also makes room for adding a Motel 6 and around 10 units of housing in a mid-rise tower far from the actual shopping area.
Although the motel and residential piece would require a slight up-zoning, most of the plan — which covers 51 properties that CRAPA controls, or roughly 65 percent of the entire area — fits within existing zoning and would preserve the district’s low-scale character, Crobins said. But existing buildings would be razed, Crobins said.
Crobins, a key early figure in the redevelopment of LaVilla and founder of the Drive Everywhere fair, said CRAPA’s plan hopes to eliminate the architectural bones of the district, and its focus on low-end shopping will create “a neighborhood in name only.’’

 ;D

fieldafm

June 05, 2012, 11:32:48 AM
Developer unveils project to transform Miami’s Design District into upscale pedestrian promenade



A proposed $312 million makeover of Miami’s Design District would carve out a mini-Lincoln Road mall with luxury fashion shops, restaurants and public spaces.

full article: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/06/04/2832902/developer-unveils-project-to-transform.html

Didn't read the article, but Washington Street in South Beach already has a successful pedestrian 'mall'.   

Debbie Thompson

June 05, 2012, 01:50:48 PM
LOL Finehoe.  Sad, but probably true.

simms3

July 02, 2012, 06:30:37 AM
Just checked out the Design District for the first time (and Midtown Miami nearby).  The Design District is definitely one of the hottest new districts for retailing with a Scotch and Soda, recently stole Cartier from Bal Harbor Shops, Armani Home, etc etc.  It's very very cool, I wouldn't say it's an area for the "creative class" any moreso than it's an area for rich Miami housewives to hang out in and feel cool.

I loved the area, but it's definitely Miami in that by "design" they mean "designer".  Atlanta has a similar district on the Westside with nearly all the same retailers in old warehouses and what not, and we have made no qualms about it that it's for yuppies and wealthy Buckhead Betties.

Midtown Miami was cheesy.  They got out of the ground at the wrong time and could only attract mediocre tenants, but the architecture of the highrise condos is fantastic.

So on one side of the highway (195/Julia Tuttle Causeway) you have Ross, Carter's, Homegoods, Hurricane Grill, Loehmanns, Marhsalls, Massage Envy, Party City, Payless Shoesource, etc all in a fabricated development.  On the other side in the District you have Christian Louboutin, Cartier, Jonathan Adler, Prada Home, Armani Home, Louis Vuitton, Yamamoto, Scotch and Soda, etc etc.
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