Before & After: Miami's Bayside Marketplace

Does your city have an aging urban retail center that has seen better days? If so, the recent renovation of Miami's Bayside Marketplace should serve as a visual example of what a makeover can do.

Bayside Marketplace in Miami

Festival Marketplaces were viewed by American cities during the 1970s and 1980s as the leading one-trick pony concepts to turn around decaying downtowns. If you’ve spent time in a couple of major cities across the country, you’ve probable been inside one. Underground Atlanta, Baltimore’s Harbor Place, Boston’s Faneuil Hall, Chicago’s Navy Pier, New Orleans Riverwalk, Jacksonville’s Landing, and Manhattan’s South Street Seaport are all examples of festival marketplaces. Characteristics of a successful marketplace were said to include having a right mix of shops and entertainment, adjacent to water and a large number of people nearby. However, despite the fanfare, many of these centers never lived up to their original expectations.

The Jacksonville Landing is a struggling former festival marketplace in need of a makeover. However, some believe demolishing and converting the structure into a park, along with providing tax incentives for a similar structure a mile east is a better solution.

In Toledo, Portside Marketplace failed six years after its opening and was converted into a museum, now known as The Imagination Station. In 2007, the City of Richmond gave tenants in its struggling Sixth Street Marketplace 90 days to vacate and tore the entire complex down. In its place, a street was built. In spring 2017, after decades of struggling with high vacancy rates, Norfolk’s Waterside reopened as the Waterside District, a dining and entertainment hub featuring a food hall, a popular local craft brewery, a local seafood oyster company and a restaurant named after the Food Network’s Guy Fieri.

Before: Bayside Marketplace’s south pavilion in 2013.

After: Bayside Marketplace’s south pavilion in 2018.

In Florida, Miami’s Bayside Marketplace can be described as a festival marketplace with staying power. Instead of being viewed as the single gimmick to revitalize a morbid downtown, it was built to complement an existing public marina. Drawing over 12 million visitors in its first year of operation, the $93 million, two-story open air 140,000-square-foot shopping center was developed by the Rouse Company in 1987. Lured with an incentive package that included the City of Miami kicking in $16 million for a parking garage and $4 million to prepare the site, Bayside quickly become a popular destination in a central business district that was considered to be pretty sleepy at the time. In fact, during the early years, the shopping center was frequently featured on the crime drama TV series, Miami Vice.

Benefits from the clustering of adjacent complementing uses, as many as 23 million people visit the center annually with 65% of the crowd being tourist ferried from cruise ships docking nearby at PortMiami. However, Miami’s fortunes have changed since the late 1980s. A downtown that once closed up at 6:00pm on weekdays now boasts the country’s third largest skyline, and a multitude of food halls, restaurants, retail boutiques and bars, challenging the dominance in the retail market once owned by Bayside. For years, there was no Wynwood, Miami Design District or Brickell City Centre. The impact of competition can been seen in the condition of the center’s second level food court. Once a popular destination for urban office workers with limited lunch options, it became a space dominated with empty storefronts and kiosks.

Before: Bayside Marketplace’s south pavilion in 2015.

After: Bayside Marketplace’s south pavilion in 2018.

Seeking to secure its future as the U.S retail industry continues to evolve, owner Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation’s decision to remodel and update is one that cities across America with aging urban shopping centers of their own should consider. In 2016, a $27 million renovation plan was created by Miami’s Zyscovich Architects to give the center a fresh new look. Through the use of a new, lighter paint scheme, hurricane-resistant polyurethane roofs with LED lighting, landscaping, signage, contemporary-looking railings and stairs, and a revamped tenant mix, Bayside is poised to be around decades into the future. With work on the existing structure now complete, future phases include expanding the mall’s garage, adding shops to face downtown and Biscayne Boulevard and a new 1,000-foot observation and entertainment tower called SkyRise.

Today, with a fresh look, more daiquiri bars than one can count and serving as ground zero for boat tours, Bayside Marketplace remains as popular as ever with tourists, despite the emergence vibrant life and competition in the central business district surrounding it. So before your community decides to spend millions in public money to incentive developers replace your structurally sound aging center, it might not hurt to consider what the benefits of pressure washing, paint, lighting, landscaping and a revamped tenant mix might accomplish.

After: Bayside Marketplace’s north pavilion in 2018.

NEXT PAGE: Additional 2018 Bayside Marketplace Photographs