We hear a lot about the “New Miami,” but what exactly does the Magic City’s rehashed brand really stand for? With Art Week, peak travel season and the world’s attention squarely upon us, our Soundbytes crew decided to get right to the heart of the matter.
We could have waxed poetic with a 1,500 word essay tackling this very subject (and let’s face it, a few people among us could have hashed out 2,500 words without breaking a sweat).
But alas, we decided a simple rundown from A to Z would be much more fun.
- Art. It’s everywhere. From exhibitions at museums and galleries, to concerts and ballets at the Arsht Center, Miami is finally being taken seriously as a cultural hotspot.
- Beckham, David. The British soccer star has been campaigning to land a professional soccer club in Miami for months. Miami and the beautiful game are a natural fit given the City’s diverse population and all signs indicate he’s making progress. Kick-off can’t come soon enough.
- Coconut Grove. The once sleepy-turned-trendy enclave along Biscayne Bay is on the verge of yet another rebirth. It’s a good example of a neighborhood primed for infill redevelopment.
- Design District. Developer Craig Robins is hatching a new retail-centered neighborhood just north of downtown. Luxury is the name of the game here, as foreigners flocking to Miami cram boutiques in search of the perfect pair of stilettos or the ideal sofa for their place back home.
- eMerge Americas. This year’s inaugural conference drew more than 6,000 attendees from around the world. They came to learn, network and — hopefully — invest here. But most of all, they came to find out what Miami’s growing tech scene is really all about.
- Frost Science Museum. Now rising in downtown, the soon-to-open science center is the final piece of the Museum Park puzzle. Once up and running in 2016, the complex will invite visitors to get in tune with South Florida’s ecology and maybe, just maybe, zip line over a shark tank.
- Graffiti art. The Wynwood Arts District is home to more of it than any other place in the world. That’s a lot of spray paint, to be sure. But it’s also a symbol of Miami’s open-minded vibe. Paging Banksy.
- High rises. You can’t throw a rock in this town without hitting a construction crane. That’s a good thing, as developers prioritize vertical development following decades of sprawl.
- ICA, aka the Institute of Contemporary Art. It seems a year doesn’t pass by in Miami without the launch of a new arts organization, and 2014 was no different as ICA took flight. New digs in the Design District will come online in 2016.
- Jet-setters. They’re everywhere and they’re hard to miss — with more people descending on Miami in 2013 than ever before. Thankfully, they’ve been a boon to the local economy, staying in hotels, dining in restaurants and scooping up second homes as if they were souvenirs.
- Knight Foundation. Find a worthwhile program in the arts or entrepreneurship in Miami and there’s a good chance that the Knight Foundation was partly or fully responsible. Kudos!
- Little Havana. The epicenter of Cuban culture in Miami is shedding its old world grit in favor of contemporary cool. Cafes, lounges and art galleries are opening; there’s a flurry of residential development underway as young professionals move in; and tourists are coming in droves.
- Millennials. If the past decade was defined by brain drain, the winds are shifting as Generation Y populates the City’s urban core. A new report by the Miami Downtown Development Authority found the area’s population is becoming younger and more educated. Say hello to bran gain.
- New hotels. The world’s top hospitality brands are clamoring to enter the market and it’s no wonder why; Miami is now home to the highest hotel rates in the US according to Bloomberg News. Acquisitions and renovations have been all the rage as the barriers to entry are steep.
- Overseas investment. Capital flight from Latin America, coupled with Miami’s standing as a bargain by comparison with other cities, is fueling the current building boom. Wealth is pouring in from Europe and Asia, but the depth of the investor pool remains a topic of speculation.
- PAMM. Miami’s showstopper, the new Herzog & de Meuron-designed Perez Art Museum Miami, turned heads when it opened this time last year. The museum has been welcomed with open arms ever since, with attendance figures outperforming even the bullish of estimates.
- Quick. Things turn on a dime around here — the economy, the hottest clubs on South Beach, entire neighborhoods, you get the idea. Just when you think Miami has let off the gas, the City has a way of surprising you. And quickly!
- River. Long overlooked as an off-the-beaten-path district overtaken by ramshackle boatyards, the Miami River is enjoying a new lease on life brought on by a handful of trendy restaurant openings (Google Jay-Z, Beyonce + Miami) and some major real estate developments in store.
- Starchitects. Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Norman Foster, Bjarke Ingels — they’re all here, shaping the skyline one building (or parking garage) at a time.
- Transit. From high speed rail and street cars along the Biscayne Corridor, to rubber tire trolleys throughout town and a BayLink connecting downtown and Miami Beach, Miami is finally beginning to take public transportation seriously.
- Urban. One word can pack a big punch, especially when the population of a neighborhood doubles in the span of 14 years. That’s what happened in downtown Miami between 2000 and 2014. Needless to say, we’re much more than a beach town.
- Venture Hive. Part incubator, part co-working space, part entrepreneurial community, Venture Hive has been making waves since it debuted two years ago as one of the best illustrations of Miami’s rise as a burgeoning technology hub.
- Words Travel Fast. What do you get when you turn edgy artists loose on a series of blank walls in the middle of downtown Miami? The answer: Words Travel Fast (WTF), a text-based art installation that’s given new relevance to the City’s Park West district.
- X-Factor. Some cities just have that special something that keeps you coming back for more.
- Y hablamos Español. Y tu?
- Zoning. It wasn’t so long ago that the City’s grid was a mish-mosh of residential and commercial uses. A major zoning overhaul passed in 2011, Miami 21, has since paved the way for more street life and the emergence — and re-emergence — of new neighborhoods.
Did we miss something? Of course we did. Sound-off in the comments section below!