If you haven’t experienced Miami’s growing Design District, you’re missing outFebruary 24, 2018
Almost 25 years after Craig Robins, president and CEO of Dacra Development, began developing the 25-acre area, construction is nearly complete. Dacra now co-owns 70% of the District, along with General Growth Properties and the French company LVMH. Robins manages the everyday operations of the District.
The Miami Design District encompasses 18 square blocks from NE 38th St. to 42nd St. between Biscayne Blvd. and N. Miami Ave. The District got its name in part because of the dozens of home design showrooms in the area, but Robins’ commitment to design extends much further.
The public art is larger than life. Visitors can step inside the 24-foot Buckminster Fuller Fly’s Eye Dome sculpture for a different perspective of the District and see works by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein without paying a dime. Even the seven-level parking garage opening in April contributes to the unique aesthetic of the place. Six different artists each designed portions of a façade covering the functional structure that is usually an eyesore.
Amid the $1.4 billion construction of new modernist buildings and art installations, Robins also worked to preserve some of the important historic features of the neighborhood, including the Moore Building, which was constructed nearly a century ago in 1921.
Visitors can shop in over 80 stores and boutiques, including several luxury brands like Gucci, Tiffani & Co., Louis Vuitton, Giorgio Armani, Prada, Burberry, and more. Retail sales have been steadily increasing but are expected to surge as construction wraps up and new upscale restaurants from celebrity chefs like Brad Kilgore, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and Joël Robuchon draw more people to the area.
There are also options for visitors on a tighter budget. The District hosts free concerts every week and Family Days activities each month. There are two free museums and a theater that screens classic films. “It was always [Robins’] vision to turn the Design District into a community and a destination,” said his lawyer, Brian L. Bilzin.
The neighborhood has become a destination for investors as well. The average rent in the Design District is $163 per square foot, which may draw businesses away from the more expensive Bal Harbor and Aventura. Two hotels are slated to open in the District in 2020.
Just beyond the Design District, property values in Buena Vista and other nearby neighborhoods have more than doubled since 2012, according to Property Shark. The median price for a single-family home was $587,450 in the 33137 zip code in 2017, up from $248,438 five years prior.
Colliers International Executive Vice President Stephen Rutchik says the Design District “has helped to elevate the foundation of Miami.” He expects the location of the new Gateway at Wynwood near the District to attract tenants to the 200,000 square feet of office space in the building scheduled to open next year.
The District’s growth has been gradual over the last few decades, but Robins isn’t interested in buying “a million ads” to tell people about it. “The Design District is about Authenticity,” he says. “You have to come and discover it on your own.”