Red Sunset merchants focus on a vision to prosper in 2017

Amy Donner

Although the year 2016 is now in the history books, there are still six months remaining in the Red Sunset Merchants Association (RSMA) year, which runs from June to June. So let’s look back at some highlights of the past six months and take a peek at what lies ahead.

The dynamics of urban-shopping areas across the country have been shifting for years and we are officially feeling the impact. From big-picture societal shifts such as the proliferation of online shopping, to changes in the local competitive landscape such as whatever is on the horizon for Sunset Place, adjustments need to be made – and fast.

With that in mind, the RSMA convened the first ever joint meeting with the Property Owners Association in August. City of South Miami Manager Steven Alexander was in attendance as well as J.C. Garrido, an aide to Commissioner Xavier Suarez.

With the major stakeholders gathered in one place, we discussed such topics as the viability of a Business Improvement District and a streetscape project on Red Road from Sunset to SW 74 St. We even got a little giddy – in a good way – during a presentation on redevelopment plans for the Shops at Sunset Place. This exciting project is a key component to revitalizing our area.

Also, for the first time, we have a multi-faceted co-op advertising campaign. On billboards, bus shelters, bus sides, on Metro trains, in mailboxes, magazines, and in newspapers – our shops and restaurants are boldly stating, “We Are SoMi.” It is both important and impactful.

The “It’s SoMi” advertising campaign that began in November 2016 concludes the first week of February.

The entire community owes a debt of gratitude to the following participating businesses: The Shops at Sunset Place, Edward Beiner, Margaux, ThreeFold Cafe, Buffalo Wild Wings, Lanes, Dog From Ipanema, Teixeira Portugal Restaurant, Rok Brgr, Taco Craft, Old Lisbon, Earth, Il Vaporetto, Green Monkey, Giancarlo, LA Fitness, Station 5, South Miami Jewelers, Splitsville, and Area Stage. Special thanks to The Shops of Sunset Place for sponsoring the campaign and to Alex Schreer, vice president of marketing at Grass River Management, for leading the effort.

The RSMA beautification committee, chaired by Barbara Williams of J.McLaughlin spearheaded a contest with students from the Art Institute to design an all-season banner for the street poles along Sunset Drive. As soon as the city administration approves the design, we will announce the winner.

As productive as the year has been, we are barely treading water. We need a vision entrenched in marketplace realities to truly prosper. The City of South Miami held its first Downtown Workshop Jan 12. The mayor and all four city commissioners, along with the administration team sincerely desire to look at our part of town with fresh eyes.

Such a meeting can serve to pave the way for creating a strategic plan. An enlightened public policy is critical at this point, but it cannot alter marketplace realities. Big stakeholders with strong desires cannot alter marketplace realities either. It is critical that we identify our place in the new retail landscape. Once we know, we can support a unified Uptown Vision on every front – every day and night.

To be continued…

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