The story of Miami Beach is a much about neighborhoods as it is about preservation. As the nation’s first 20th Century neighborhood listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Miami Beach or South Beach has much to be proud of. Yet, behind all the glimmer and glitz of South Beach there is a legacy that remains. How to control development and preserve its historical neighborhoods? That is the battle that is going with Lincoln Road and Star Island.

Many of the residents of Miami Beach were refugees from Nazi concentration camps. In came developers on bulldozers who saw boarded up buildings and a nice piece of real estate. They did not see people; they saw dollar signs.

Preservationist Barbara Capitman saw the boarded up buildings, too. But she also saw the people living in the buildings who needed a nice, safe place to stay.



Miami Beach Holocaust Memorial.

Miami Beach Holocaust Memorial.


I’ve been thinking about Millennials and their penchant for relationships. Also, about how they are moving back to the city to be closers to friends and the amenities that cities offer. Unlike, boomers who thrive on independence, Millennials get energy from interacting with others.

The suburbs can be a lonely place. Neighbors work all day and escape behind closed garages and self-centeredness. How can we love our neighbor if we don’t know who the “heck” they are?

Perhaps, that is why we feel threatened by our neighbors…we don’t know them! We’ve closed our doors, hearts, and minds to those living closest to us.

Here’s to hoping Millennials will change the dynamics of neighborhoods with their thirst for relationships.


Young Millennials are moving back to the city! Millennials are social beings who thrive on relationships. The “me” generation is being replaced by the “we” generation. President Obama tapped in to this mindset in 2008 with his slogan “Yes, we can.”

That is good news for American cities that have long been in decline. Lifestyle is what is driving this trend according to Neilson. Millennials are used to having the world at their fingertips. They love the social amenities cities offer as well as the easy commute. They are conscious of the environment and believe in living green. They are changing the world in ways baby boomers only talked about. It is no longer rhetoric and self-talk.

Will this move back to the city translate in the preservation or destruction of buildings? I just read an American Express article by Tim McClimon that says Millennials think like the rest of the population on this question. His research with the National Trust for Historic Preservation found that an overwhelming majority of Millennials have donated to the preservation of a historic building or site and have signed a petition to save a historic site or building.

Is nothing Sacred?

In a scene reminiscent of Jesus and the money changers, the Miami Design Preservation League is challenging the Miami Beach Community Church’s bid to develop a retail building in its courtyard, according to the Miami Herald. Short on cash, the church has plans to lease its courtyard to a developer for an initial rent payment of $3.5 million.

Jesus drove out the money changers from the temple courts with a whip made out of cords. However, the Preservation League is appealing a city’s board decision that approved the bid by the Community Church.

For where your mall is, there will your heart be also

Lincoln Mall is the heart of Miami Beach. Lincoln in Miami Beach is a thriving, outdoor pedestrian friendly mall unlike most malls. People meet, socialize, paint, shop, laugh and dine. That’s why it is vital that it retains its local flavor, history and not become just another outdoor shopping mall with chain stores devoid of any personality or warmth.

Malls are more than a place to shop. Malls are a reflection of the heart of a city. When Americans migrated to the suburbs, the enclosed mall emerged as the new meeting place; the new “Town Center.” In the past, the “Town Center” was where shopping, socializing, and most business transactions took place.

Lincoln Mall

The hustle and bustle of Lincoln Mall.

Enclosed malls were centralized meeting places. Young people gathered, socialized and met new people. It was a cohesive and safe place to meet. As American life became more frantic, dysfunctional and fragmented, the strip malls re-emerged and a new mall developed “The Town Center.” Outdoor shopping became the vogue. Now shoppers could easily and quickly visit the store of their choice and leave. Socializing became secondary if not nonexistence at the new “Town Center.” Sure you could hang out with a friend, but casual meetings were no longer the norm.

I remember in Jacksonville, when Regency Mall was the place to go. Their motto was ”all roads lead to Regency Mall.” A couple of years ago I visited the mall and many of the stores and areas in the mall were boarded up. Now there are homes in foreclosure and many boarded-up and abandoned homes in the Regency area. St. Johns “Town Center” is the new place to be and the area surrounding it is thriving. Malls are more than places for shopping they are a mirror of the community.

Roaches and Revitalization

Art really does build community. The saying goes, according to my friend Gil Mayers, first the roaches then the rats, then the artists, then the yuppies or buppies. Miami Beach has witnessed this cycle. Now that the Art Deco District is really thriving, artists and entrepreneurs are being driven out by the high rent. Don’t take my word for it! Stroll done Lincoln Road and you’ll witness the gentrification of the place. Van Dykes among other mom and pop businesses is gone. Not sure why IceBox Café relocated to Purdy Avenue in Miami Beach, but my imagination tells me that escalating rents had something to do with it. In May, Britto’s gallery space on Lincoln went for $34.5 million! Yeah, but he’s one artist that can afford a price increase.