West Lots could be used for pop up food and culture concept
When Miami Beach Commissioner Ricky Arriola ran into fellow Harvard Business School Alum Della Heiman recently he was intrigued by the success of her Wynwood Yard pop-up food concept and its evolution as an entrepreneurial and community hub. Now the two are cooking up a way to bring the concept to North Beach.
Arriola thinks it is the perfect option to utilize the mostly vacant West Lots on Collins Avenue across from North Shore Open Space Park between now and the time any future development of the space may occur.
At The Wynwood Yard, food and beverage entrepreneurs test concepts by utilizing food trucks and pop-up materials on four vacant lots in the Wynwood Arts District. The food yard also hosts live music and other cultural activities, fitness classes, yoga, art and gardening classes, all showcasing local entrepreneurs. Heiman said, “It’s all designed to build community and support our local entrepreneurs.” Since opening in November 2015, she said it has “transformed into a venue with 15-30 events a week, attracting people of all social and economic levels, all walks of life.” The Yard has expanded into a fifth vacant lot, which now contains the largest edible organic garden in Miami-Dade County.
A table down the middle can host dinners of up to 70 people.
And, it’s all temporary, meaning it can be taken down in a couple of hours if need be, something that was tested successfully this past year during Hurricane Matthew.
Arriola said when he first talked with Heiman about the concept he thought, “It’s cool. It supports local entrepreneurs. It would be amazing if we could get this done in North Beach.” After seeing the resurgence in the Wynwood Arts District and the role The Wynwood Yard has played in that, he thinks bringing the concept to North Beach could be a great catalyst for the area. “It’s just a great thing that we could do relatively quickly. It’s inexpensive without any major commitments.” He said the infrastructure is already in place to support it in the West Lots. Several of them are already wired for electricity and have sewage and plumbing. Given their uses as surface parking lots now, there’s plenty of parking to support it.
Two major developers have indicated their willingness to contribute to the effort according to Arriola. All in all, he thinks it’s a good thing for the City and good for North Beach. “We’re not giving anything away,” he said. “We don’t have to build anything. If it doesn’t get traction, you just shut it down.” But, if it succeeds, it could be “an amazing community amenity.”
Arriola will raise the idea with his fellow Commissioners at the April 26th meeting. If all goes well, he’s hoping the concept could be up and running by the end of the year. If you’d like to provide input on the idea, email Commissioner Arriola at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Susan Askew is the founder of RE:MiamiBeach.com, a website and weekly newsletter focused on Miami Beach-only news and information. She also co-chairs the MBCC Real Estate Council.