Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hurray. Gentrification is here. Mid-Century Modern meets the next century.

Well, I guess it was just a matter of time before it got here. Like a warm breeze creeping up from downtown. sweeping away adult bookstores, prostitutes and dive motels, gentrification has finally arrived to the area between 50th to 79th streets on Biscayne Boulevard.  The vanguards of this movement Starbucks, UVA 69 and Starbucks all seem very established now, less hipster, more chic and middle age. 

The coolest part of the living here is the diversity. Haitians, Anglos, Argentinos and Jewish families all seem to dot the area. Brazilians, Europeans and New Yorkers are moving in at a rapid pace. The area is friendly by Miami standards.

I guess the first clue that the neighborhood was changing were the older white people. Not the usual homeless types, but spry ones, taking morning constitutionals and evening strolls to the cafes and restaurants up and down the street. Another sign were the chic young mothers with strollers, not waiting for the bus, but power walking to Baywood, Legion and Morningside Parks.  Then I knew it was just a matter of time. 

Of course with the gentrification there is construction and demolition. Slowly, old structures are coming down. A new bank is planned for 69th street and a new shopping plaza is going up on 62nd. (Rumor has it that Michelle Bernstein and Steven Perricone are opening up a new place there.)  Motels are renting spaces to restaurateurs such as Blue Collar in the Bayside Inn and Red Light in the Motel Bleu. Fancy food and rooms by the evening of fun.  Of course the gays want a say too, Eros is the new gay bar and so on.   

The usual suspects of gentrification are in play. Gay men who resurrected the neighborhoods of Morningside and Bellemeade from severe urban decay in the mid 80's have long since cashed out of those neighborhoods and have been replaced by very affluent couples who can afford private schools and want a short commute to downtown. In both neighborhoods old Miami mansions are sprouting wings as the wealthy vie for limited waterfront property that is just 10 minutes north of downtown. To accommodate the new bourgeoisie Cushman School has bought up several blocks adjacent to the school on 61st street and closed down the liquor store. 

Still there are some remnants of  the bad old days.  Hookers still ply their trade day and night and the motels still seem to be hotbeds of iniquity, which is usually a plus for any area that claims it's gentrifying. These are always going to be touchstones of what came before.  So when you see same old hookers working the street you remember the "bad old days" hanging out at the liquor store on 61st or picking up a porn at the adult video store that used to be on 71st.  It's good to keep a little of the old grit to remind us that we were once young and carefree. 

Despite all the change, the Mimo district still has quaint tree lined neighborhoods with Spanish and Mediterranean revival homes. Small bodegas still sell cafecitos and lottery tickets. There are still plenty of poor. Just remember if you move into the area, don't complain if a hooker is using your bushes for "business".