Pioneering developer, preservationist and city builder Tony Goldman passed away on Tuesday. He was 68. The brother of Mark Goldman, Tony was instrumental in kicking off the rebirth of SoHo in New York City and Miami Beach's South Beach. He also did extensive work in Philadelphia and Boston. Below is a post from 2009 on Tony's neighborhood revitalization strategy.
Philadelphia Enquirer tribute/obituary
Neighborhood Building 101- Goldman Style
Developer Tony Goldman, brother of Buffalo restaurateur/pioneer Mark Goldman, is credited with leading the rebirth of New York's SoHo and Florida's South Beach. He is at it again in Philadelphia, downtown New York and Miami's Wynwood neighborhood. A recent article in the Miami Herald lays out Tony and his son Joey's neighborhood building strategy. It also details the struggles he faces with his newest Miami venture as the real estate market in south Florida has been rocked by speculative investors and the sub-prime mortgage meltdown.
Goldman, who grew up in New York, got his start 40 years ago buying Brownstone apartment buildings on Manhattan's Upper West Side.
In the late 1980s he made a real estate move that would later make him famous, buying 18 properties in New York's South of Houston neighborhood before ''SoHo'' turned into one of the country's top loft-living spots.
Though drab at the time, the neighborhood's historic cast-iron architecture convinced Goldman that people would someday pay top dollar to live there.
Flush with money from his successful SoHo venture, Goldman came to a similar conclusion while on a trip to Miami Beach in 1985. Eyeing neglected Art Deco buildings along Ocean Drive, he bought one property a month and ended up with 18 buildings in what was then a low-rent section of South Beach.
''There was not one car on the street,'' recalled Craig Robins, a protégé of Goldman who went on to revitalize the Design District on his own. ``I literally could walk out of my office on Sixth and Ocean and find a parking space anywhere I wanted.''
The basics of Goldman's neighborhood building strategy is pulled from the Herald story:
1. Find a neighborhood with good bones.
Wynwood, filled with boxy warehouses, lacks the architectural charm or historic significance that characterize past Goldman targets, including Philadelphia's Center City neighborhood
But Goldman sees potential in the Wynwood streets themselves.
''For me, it was its grid system,'' Goldman said. ``I love the fact that the buildings are up to the street line. The setback thing is a suburban thing..it doesn't do it for me.''
Goldman said he and his son considered buying up property along Miami's Biscayne Boulevard before settling on Wynwood, but decided the streets weren't friendly enough to pedestrians to spark a retail revival.
''Biscayne Boulevard is not a walking street. It's too wide. It's too vehicular,'' he said. ``When the streets are that wide, there's no synergy between stores on one side and stores on the other. You have that in Wynwood. It's perfect.''
2. Purchase what you can get your hands on and enough to control the neighborhood's destiny.
Tony Goldman, spent three years during South Florida's real estate boom buying up $35 million worth of property in Wynwood, Miami's budding gallery district.
Now mostly warehouses and industrial lots, the district seems ripe for the Goldman strategy of reaping profits from a neighborhood in transition from gritty to trendy.
3. Don't expect quick returns.
''I think they paid a fair price and they had decent timing,'' said Tony Cho, a commercial real estate agent active in Wynwood and president of Metro 1 Properties in Wynwood.
''The question is how do they carry those properties through the difficult times?'' Cho said. ``It could be five, seven, 10 years [before Wynwood's real estate market recovers]. We don't know.''
The Goldmans expect to lose money the first few years they move into an emerging neighborhood, and the plan calls for Wynwood to become self-sustaining in 2009.
The elder Goldman, now 65, says he feels no alarm at Wynwood's fate in the current economic meltdown.
''I think things are going to be a little tough for us over the next several years because of this economy,'' he said. ``Are we in desperate straits? The answer is no...We've got patience.''
4. Control the retail, and the vibe.
The neighborhood often feels desolate even during the day, thanks largely to a lack of shops and restaurants.
That's a key condition for the Goldman strategy, which calls for reviving foot traffic around their holdings by engineering the first retail tenants to open up in the neighborhood.
In South Beach, that included opening and running the Lucky's restaurant in the Park Central, followed by Mark Soyka's News Cafe in the ground floor of a Goldman building on the corner of Eighth and Ocean in 1988 and targeting trendy boutiques and modeling agencies to rent space nearby.
''We buy in critical mass. Then we are the users of our own real estate,'' Jessica Goldman-Srebnick said. ``So we can effectuate what the vibe is going to be.''
The influx of local trend-setters and attractive workers helped set a fashionable vibe on that stretch of Ocean Drive, boosting the cachet of Goldman's first hotel, the Park Central. Goldman Properties also owns The Hotel -- formerly the Tiffany -- which opened 10 years ago two blocks from the Park Central.
''That's the whole thing -- control the street life,'' Tony Goldman said. ``Ocean Drive gives me a thrill every time I'm there.''
5. Start with a restaurant.
The Goldmans see Joey's playing the role of News Cafe in Wynwood, acting as a magnet to attract competitors. Restaurants should then attract shops, eventually allowing the Goldmans to sell pricey apartments above street level in what is now a working-class neighborhood -- a gentrification trend Tony Goldman followed in New York with the opening of SoHo's Greene Street Café.
6. Attract the crowds to create synergy.
The key is ''to bring the new market of customers you're looking to attract to that neighborhood,'' Goldman said. ``Restaurants are the fastest and most convenient way to do that.''
With an 80-bottle wine list, fig-topped pizza, and $20 cheese plates, Joey's aims to prove Wynwood can sustain a hip restaurant.
Joey's, which Goldman runs with his wife, Thea, is the first beneficiary of a special cafe district the Goldmans convinced city commissioners to establish in Wynwood last year, with relaxed parking and density restrictions. The second could be an upscale Vietnamese restaurant Joey and Thea plan to open nearby in 2009.
7. Try to avoid real estate collapses.
The younger Goldman sees the new restaurant district jump-starting Wynwood's evolution and cementing its status as an artsy enclave with Miami.
''It allows the galleries to survive because the restaurants and cafes will support the galleries,'' he said. As for banking on a neighborhood's turnaround amid a dismal economy, he says the plan always was to struggle in the outset.
''It is the first five years which are the hardest,'' he said. ``It's also the biggest opportunity -- to go from zero to 60.''
South Beach images by Magnoid. SoHo image by See-Ming Lee.