Tuesday, July 1, 2008

July 1: Key To Downtown Miami Is In the Night

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Macy's and other Downtown Miami businesses are still pointing fingers at each other as to who gets the blame for the area's continued struggles:


For Julie Greiner of Macy's Florida and for anyone who remembers the glory years of downtown, the key may lie in restoring the neighborhood's nightlife. After being the "in" place for Miami families for most of the 20th century, downtown began a decline following various crises of the 1970s, 80s and 90s, and a move to the suburbs and their shopping malls.

Some businesses have started to stay open after dark. But for most people, Downtown Miami is still like Washington, D.C.'s Mall area at night: Stay away, at least from central downtown - the area surrounding the city's origins at Flagler Street and Miami Avenue.

Elected, civic and business leaders may have to swallow their pride and look across Biscayne Bay for the answer. For Miami Beach, the preservation of the Art Deco District was only the first step in its comeback as the "in" place to be.

If Miami leaders can't bear to talk to the folks across the bay, they might try looking north, to Delray Beach. Once, not so long ago, Delray's downtown (or Downtown Delray, as it's frequently called) was also a place people feared to be. Today, the downtown is thriving, with shops and new apartment buildings. Historic Swinton Avenue is the city's pride.

The birthplace of the City of Miami, and what surrounds it, should be the Magic City's pride. Those who have a vested interest should stop finger-pointing and learn the secrets of other downtowns' successes.

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