The Resurgence of Miami Beach

By Jeff Lehman….

Jeff Lehman

Remember when nothing could compete with the energy, the demand, the possibilities abounding in Miami Beach? 10 years ago, when you talked about “Greater Miami & the Beaches”, Miami Beach was indeed the “dog that wagged the tail”. And to a certain extent, it still is. Strolling down Lincoln Road last night, the minimum wait at any decent restaurant was a half hour, the energy was high; the mix of locals and tourists was good. Business is good, and this July, right?

Maybe not as good as you would imagine. In Miami, we are accustomed to storms brewing on the horizon, which turn into hurricanes in due time. As Miami Beach has grown in popularity, for both residents and tourists, the City leaders, both elected and not, have wrestled with what has been termed explosive growth. In the process, we have made it clear that clubs and restaurants must never impede on the quiet enjoyment of residents, that noise from normal business cannot be heard 100 feet away from the source, and that growth – new business, new jobs, and new excitement must not happen without stringent, sometimes Machiavellian constraints and guidelines.

Meanwhile, a mere mile or two from our shores, the City of Miami has embraced a 24 hour entertainment district, high rises to house and nurture a growing population with a desire to buy and rent in an urban setting, an arts district that rivals any City’s of similar size, and now several more large developments such as Resorts World Miami and Brickell City Center. While the City of Miami Beach has had some successes such as the New World Campus, other important components to keep our City at the top of the world’s opinion and demand such as the Miami Beach Convention Center are mired in politics, in-fighting, unclear priorities and as such, paralyzed. City services in Miami Beach crawl along (Washington Avenue and Indian Creek come to mind), our infrastructure is stumbling (71st street sewer collapse) and the voice of the businesses in Miami Beach is becoming drowned out but those of a few “no-growth” others.

The Miami Beach VCA is not standing still. We have recently hired the Public Relations firm of Hill & Knowlton/Samcor in order to, among other things; keep getting the message about our beautiful, dynamic destination in front of the world audience. This firm is being paid 100% by the resort tax collected from our tourists, not our residents. The value of our tourism business to us, both residents and business owners alike, is huge. The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, on whom we have always depended on to get our message out to the world, now has to choose between the Beach and Brickell, Mary Brickell Village, Wynwood, the Design District, the Arsht Center, Midtown, and the emerging products of Resorts World and City Center.

Take nothing for granted. Miami Beach led the resurgence of popularity in the 90’s. We also led the failure of Miami in the 70’s. Support our businesses, get involved, and let your voices be heard. As a Miami Beach property owner, business owner, and manger of large assets, I will personally not sit back and let all of our hard work and successes be eclipsed. There is room for a lot of growth across the bay – in fact it is needed – but we mustn’t forget the jewel that is Miami Beach in the process.

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