Downtown Miami is a conundrum. What other major metropolitan city can say the core of where the magic happens during the day is totally deserted at night, no one is really interested in living in the beautiful buildings constructed by some of the Western Hemisphere’s most talented architects, and that the people who do show up for the show are usually tourists who have lost their way between the airport and South Beach?
Downtown is slowly starting to make a comeback though. A visually stunning and strategically creative marketing campaign by the Miami Downtown Development Authority uses online, print, and events to paint the future of what this neighborhood will one day look like. Window stickers liven up the vacant shop windows encouraging small business owners to relocate to Downtown. The DWNTWN concert series in Bayside Park has brought popular South Florida acts like PALO! and Inner Circle to a mostly young professional crowd looking to unwind with their neighbors on a Friday night. The DWNTWN website features a thorough guide on the hip places to eat andÂ shop. They are working on a social media presence with a blog, Twitter account, and Facebook fan page, but none are updated regularly and focus more on announcements, press releases and articles that tout the “Downtown is the new hot spot image” they are shooting for, instead of building online relationships with current and potential residents.
As a resident of Downtown Miami I can tell you that we aren’t quite the hot spot a press release might make us out to be, but we’re getting there. The DWNTWN campaign is catching the interest of apartment seekers and small business owners and as my elevator rides in the morning get more and more full I’m also finding more Downtown gems like Salsa Fiesta and Sparky’s Roadside Barbecue, both have awesome food and awesome service, a rarity in Miami. Downtown is poised to be a refuge for those of us tired of the electro-feel of South Beach and not committed enough to embrace the Midtown-Design District eclectic style. The intrinsic beauty of Downtown paired with the laid back flip-flops over stilettos and jeans over power suits people will make it a lovable neighborhood that’s an oasis for new small restaurants and shops.
So my plea to you Downtowners and business owners alike is: Don’t make Downtown something it’s not. While MIA has been heralded as one of our main attractions, it’s nothing more than a South Beach transplant. You’ll have a much better time at the White Room or the Vagabond where the music is fresher and the people are more interesting. While we cherish our fine dining we’re happy that it’s places like Miami Chophouse that occupy that space instead of the Latin American fusion restaurants that have overtaken South Beach.
Hey, we all have our awkward years. But Downtown has it’s own style that will one day rival the current hip kids (Brickell and South Beach), it just needs time to get there.