Currently, there is no theatre district. We have theatres spread throughout the county. In Miracle Mile, Coconut Grove, Miami Beach, and Downtown we have one theatre in each. However, there is no concentration of theatres as there is in NYC Broadway theatre district. I know that Miami is no New York City, but one can draw comparisons. In Miami, Park West is designated the Media and Entertainment district. Space nightclub has proven that the area can sustain a successful nightclub for years, and many other nightclubs are following the example. There are plans for restaurants in the area and more lounges. Telemundo is interested in placing a jumbotron in the district. Outdoor ads are already prevalent in the area. Now, it is a far cry from Times Square but currently it’s the closest thing we got to it. Importantly, in NYC as you head north from Times Square on Broadway, you enter the famed theatre district. It is quite a sight to behold. The whole area is thriving with the performing arts.
In Miami, there is an interesting parallel to the north of the Media and Entertainment District; the Performing Arts Center. The PAC has already drawn the development of the Anderson Opera house, which will be home to the Florida Grand Opera. Nearby buildings are being given names like Opera Tower. The area is clearly taking on a performing arts district identity. However, there is a problem. To the west of the PAC we have a neighborhood that could be known as the filthy district. Even considering the movement of the I-395 to the immediate north, we are still left with a cruddy neighborhood. There is nothing but underutilized buildings, abandoned warehouses, vacant lots, and one decent nightclub: Pawn Shop. The area cannot and will not remain in its current unacceptable status. What should happen is that the city should take into consideration the viability of designating it the theatre district and luring theatre troupes, acts, and permanent shows to the area. The city should figure out ways to provide incentives for these organizations to come to the area. The city should help create a buzz about the performing arts in the area that is not limited to the new PAC. The PAC is already getting built. Let us imagine beyond it.
This is just an idea. A damn good one I might add. It would create another vibrant touristy area that is easily accessible via the I-95 and 836. It would be a welcome addition to the community in general and a healthy contribution to the city’s cultural fold. Developers would salivate over the idea and immediately build nearby. They already are. We just can’t cal the area the performing arts district because there are three establishments dedicated to the art in the area. There have to be more. And the city cannot simply leave it up to private interest groups to take the initiative. The city should be the guiding force. Interestingly, I stumbled upon a website from FIU that included various visions of the same neighborhood created by urban planning and development students. This was obviously sponsored and encouraged by city officials. Although many of the visions were aesthetically pleasing, none of them presented a realistic approach towards solving the neighborhood niche problem. The area has not changed since. The city should stop wasting its time with these attempts at finding a creative solution to that neighborhood’s identity crisis. The answer is staring at them in the face: use the development of the PAC to help foster the development of a broader performing arts district. It would be conveniently situated to the north of the Media and Entertainment district and serve as a natural extension to it.