The Daily Sentinel: "Who is the Green Hornet?"
Interactive trailer: http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/thegreenhornet/itrailer/
U.K. ad: http://www.thedrum.co.uk/news/2011/01/13/17631-sony-pictures-go-to-great-lengths-to-plug-the-green-hornet/
The ABC-TV series from the 1960's
I wonder if the fictional Daily Sentinel under the late newspaper mogul James Reid was routinely blowing-off covering local City Commission meetings, or blocking stories about the curious personal behavior of local female elected officials and instead, directing his reporters to write puff-pieces on real estate developments like... say, the Miami Herald:
Midtown Miami sparking an urban renaissance
Has the era of the Miami Herald as real estate pimp returned?
Five months ago today, at least for two days, it did.
Seriously, Midtown? But there's no real there there.
FYI: The Herald deleted all the clever and well-written negative reader comments that were there for months that called into question many aspects of the article, including what was missing from the story.
Midtown Miami sparking an urban renaissance
By Elaine Walker
August 14, 2010
When a friend invited Sarah Weintraub to visit Midtown Miami over a year ago, she was reluctant, remembering the location just south of Miami's Design District as a ``dilapidated, horrible neighborhood.''
Fast forward to today and Weintraub, 23, not only lives in Midtown Miami, she's one of the area's biggest fans. She revels in the growing excitement of an urban lifestyle whose restaurants and retail beckon just steps from her door.
``I instantly fell in love with Midtown,'' said Weintraub, who moved from Coconut Grove into a one-bedroom rental in March. ``The energy is incredible.''
Somehow, amid a bleak real estate meltdown with shopping centers clinging desperately to tenants, Midtown appears to have caught on, fulfilling a long-desired demand for urban retail. For more than a decade no one could find a suitable place to make it happen, leaving the best shopping meccas a long drive away for residents of central Miami.
What makes this area different from other redevelopment plans is that Midtown was started from the blank canvas of an abandoned inner-city railyard. You had the benefit of two developers controlling a 56-acre site -- a rare find in urban Miami and about the same size as a suburban strip mall. Plus, they had financial help from the city to get started and the deep pockets to wait out the recession.
While Midtown started like many condo ghost towns, the developer got aggressive early with value-priced rentals aimed at drawing new, hip residents to the once blighted area.
The success of Midtown, in Wynwood at the corner of 36th Street and Miami Avenue, has helped energize the surrounding area. It has boosted the revitalized Design District directly to the north and spurred additional development in the surrounding commercial district.The entire area has become a destination, dotted with art galleries, high-end home furnishing stores and some of the area's best restaurants.
As for Midtown itself, a combination of new residents like Weintraub and hot new restaurants like Sugarcane and Mercadito have breathed life into the former no-man's land. Some liken it to New York City's Meat Packing District or SoHo in its early days.
A key catalyst has been the growing restaurant scene, drawing in new visitors from a wide area stretching from Miami Shores to Coral Gables.
``I like the vibe,'' said Michael Schwartz, who hopes to open a barbecue restaurant at Midtown. ``It's accessible, and it's close to everything,'' said Schwartz of Michael's Genuine Food and Drink in the Design District.
China Grill owner Jeffrey Chodorow also is negotiating on a Midtown location to launch a new version of the landmark chain, featuring new items in smaller portions with lower prices.
Coming soon: the fall opening of organic bistro Sustain, and an Italian cafe.
Whether it's someone who comes to play at Midtown or actually lives there, the convenience of everything in one place -- condos, offices, shopping and restaurants -- is helping drive the area's popularity.
``We can't accommodate all the people that are looking at Midtown now,'' said real estate broker Michael Comras, who has been working for Midtown Miami on retail and restaurant leasing. ``That's pretty amazing considering where we were two years ago.''
Back then, Shimon Bokovza, co-owner of Sushisamba, thought the owners of Midtown were ``out of their mind'' when they asked him to open a restaurant.
After visiting the complex regularly for about a year, Bokovza changed his mind.
He decided the key was creating a restaurant and lounge that would draw people from outside the area. But even when he signed a lease for Sugarcane Raw Bar & Grill, Bokovza couldn't get his financial backers to support him.
``Nobody believed this place was going to make it,'' said Bokovza, who put more of his own money into opening Sugarcane. ``You would go see the place and there was hardly anybody walking around.''
Since its January opening, Sugarcane has helped lead the way toward changing that, drawing crowds for happy hour and stretching into the late-night. Bokovza estimates 30 percent of his diners live in Midtown, with the rest coming from Miami Beach, downtown and beyond.
The strategy was much the same at Mercadito, which opened in March.
``We realized that we would have to reach out beyond Midtown to be successful,'' said Alfredo Sandoval, managing partner of Mercadito Restaurant Group.
Gary Bahadur, who lives in downtown Miami, is the kind of customer the restaurants are targeting. He comes to Sugarcane for Happy Hour every couple of weeks, goes to the casual taqueria that's part of Mercadito and also visits Midtown's big box stores like Target.
``It's a fun place,'' said Bahadur, 36. ``It's more relaxed than South Beach. Plus, they have parking, which is a big bonus in my book.''
When Miami's condo sales started to grind to a halt in 2008, developer Midtown Equities made the decision to rent the buildings designed as luxury condos rather than be forced into a bargain-basement sale.
The developer, which controls the residential and boutique retail, also refunded deposits on a third tower and put the rest of construction plans on hold.
That's not to say Midtown hasn't seen its share of foreclosures and litigation, from buyers who didn't want to close or service providers alleging they didn't get paid. Most of that litigation has been resolved.
``Our bet was on the long-term play,'' said Jack Cayre of Midtown Equities. ``We view it as more of an investment that requires us to put in more funds today before we can sell it at a higher base tomorrow.''
THE LONG HAUL
While Midtown Equities is losing money in the short run, experts hail the project an example of successful urban redevelopment, although it's a long way from finished.
``We got a great place,'' said Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, dean of the University of Miami School of Architecture and an advocate for mixed-use development. ``The bones and the genes that went in are absolutely of the best character. It will grow up well.''
The benefits of Midtown also have had a positive impact on surrounding areas like the Design District, Wynwood and Buena Vista.
Residents of Midtown say they frequent many of the restaurants, clubs and art galleries in these neighborhoods.
Jean-Jacques Chiche, owner of W Wine Bistro on the south end of the Design District, gets many Midtown residents as customers.
``Midtown has brought a lot of vitality to the area,'' Chiche said.
The co-owner of Buena Vista Bistro has had so much success in the area, six months ago he opened Buena Vista Deli. While it faces competition from Cheese Course at Midtown, he doesn't see it as an issue.
``We do a lot of deliveries to Midtown,'' said Cory Finot. ``Midtown for us is very positive. People are asking for our food.''
Finding a vacancy at Midtown Miami isn't as easy as it once was.
These days the developer has only a handful of vacant condos available for rent and people are renting units sight unseen. That's a dramatic change from where Midtown Equities started in 2008, giving away a month's free rent to fill up 557 condos -- or 60 percent of the units.
Many of the initial residents came from South Beach's West Avenue -- including artists who worked in the Design District and trend-setters in the gay community who weren't scared off by the area's location on the edge of urban rebirth.
They liked the combination of Midtown's proximity to the Design District and the accessibility to Miami Beach.
Ben Clark was drawn by the edgy feel of the neighborhood that reminded him of where he used to live in Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood. He had first tried Brickell Avenue and found it was not his style.
``Brickell was a little too stiff for me, a little too planned and a little too perfect,'' Clark said. ``In Midtown there is cool stuff that makes me feel like I'm in a real city. Yet, you still have the modern conveniences that Brickell has.''
CHEAPER THAN SOBE
The value at Midtown was also a selling point. Residents were attracted by brand-new apartments with luxuries like wood cabinets, granite countertops, fancy gyms and swimming pools. Most of the rental units fall in the $1,250-$2,900 range, other than some larger three-bedroom units or penthouse apartments.
Those same units once sold for between $195,000 and over $1 million. This year, small units have gone for as low as $125,000.
Carolina del Rivero moved from Miami Beach because she got a brand new two-bedroom apartment with 1,700 square feet for a fraction of what she would pay on South Beach. Plus, she has a pool for her two boys to use on the weekends.
``On Miami Beach, if I got space like this I would be paying double or triple the rent for a building from the 1960s,'' said del Rivero, a 35-year-old single mom.
The bargains have had their downside for investors like Nathan Heber, who bought his two-bedroom Midtown condo near the peak of the market for $455,000. He had planned to flip the unit or rent it out. But when the market crashed and Heber couldn't rent it at a price that would cover his mortgage, he moved in.
While Heber and his wife, Dr. Jordana Herschthal, have grown to love Midtown, they sold the condo last month for a loss. Now, they're renting it back.
``We're paying less than half of what we used to pay between interest, property taxes and maintenance,'' said Heber, 33.
Since last fall, there has been a steady string of openings of new cafes, small boutiques and shops like Cheese Course, Dog Bar, Cherry Bomb Boutique and Sakaya Kitchen.
``I see Midtown as where Lincoln Road was in 1998 when there was nothing going on,'' said Steven Cohen, owner of Dog Bar, which opened this month at Midtown after years at the Miami Beach hotspot. ``We've always been pioneers.''
NAIL SALONS, BAGELS
The risk has already paid off for Lime Fresh Mexican Grill, which opened in November 2008. The restaurant is one of the chain's top performers and sales are up 25 percent this year, said founder John Kunkel.
``We had a good idea that we could do well, but from the day we opened it has been nonstop,'' Kunkel said.
That success is luring others. On the residential side, a nail salon, convenience store, yogurt shop, yoga studio, liquor store and bagel shop are now open or should be by the end of the year.
At the Shops of Midtown Miami, the retail component owned by Developers Diversified Realty, a HomeGoods store will open late this fall in the former Linen's 'n Things. Other new tenants coming this month: Guess Factory Store and Hurricane Wings & Grill. Two more restaurants are coming in October and industry sources say The Sports Authority is expected to take the vacant Circuit City space.
Allapattah resident Mariano Cruz goes to Target regularly and thinks it has helped his neighborhood.
``I love Midtown,'' said Cruz, interim chair of the Allapattah Business Development Authority. ``It's good because we don't have to travel anymore to go shop. We can spend money here.''
Patricia Smith comes at least once a week to lunch at Lime or shop at the Midtown Target from her Design District office. She also likes the Happy Hour at Sugarcane, but she doesn't come as much as she would like.
``At night, I'm not too eager to come here by myself,'' said Smith, 33, a paralegal who lives in Key Biscayne. ``If I see it getting dark, I will probably leave soon. I don't feel that safe at night.''
The Wynwood/Edgewater neighborhood, with about 14,000 of Miami's approximately 480,00-plus residents, had 7 percent of the total crimes committed in the city of Miami last year. That's better than the Coral Way/Brickell corridor but slightly worse than Coconut Grove, according to Miami police stats.
TARGET WAS PIONEER
Target was the first to open its doors at Midtown in October 2006. Angel Blanco, Target team leader, says traffic has gotten better every year and the store is hoping to draw even more business when its expanded grocery department debuts on Sept. 12.
``We have a big opportunity here,'' Blanco said. ``It's going to be really good for business.''
Residents like Weintraub can't wait. She already takes full advantage of what makes Midtown unique.
At the Cheese Course, the employees know Weintraub's favorites: oatmeal cookies and Midnight Moon gouda cheese. After work at an employee benefits company, she craves a cup of frozen sangria at Lime Mexican restaurant. She knows the cashiers by name at Target, buys clothes at Loehmann's and decorated her apartment from West Elm.
``I park my car on Friday and I don't use it again until Monday,'' Weintraub said. ``Everything you need or want is right there. Plus, South Beach or Brickell Avenue are just a hop, skip and a jump away by cab.''
The next day... the real estate PR onslaught continued...
Midtown Miami overcomes challenges Growth at Midtown Miami hasn't been easy. But the project is overcoming its challenges.
By Elaine Walker