What’s in a neighborhood? Latest promotion tells how Miami enclaves are unique

Think of an urban neighborhood that resonates with you: maybe Tribeca in New York, Nob Hill in San Francisco or Coconut Grove in Miami. One of the latter’s high profile residents is basketball superstar LeBron James. His $9 million mansion, with views of Biscayne Bay, is, well, fit for a king. And it’s closer to the AmericanAirlines Arena where the Heat plays, as compared to the homes of teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami Beach.

If you weren’t aware of that neighborhood tidbit, don’t feel bad. There are a lot of grabbers the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau hopes to use in its latest promotion.

The “It’s So Miami: People and Places” campaign focuses on the city’s 34 neighborhoods, particularly the more traditional ones and some up-and-comers.
Rolando Aedo, bureau executive vice president and chief marketing officer, says the campaign hopes to boost awareness of Miami, its rich cultures and heritage.

Read more about it in this issue’s Uniquely Florida.

Vibrant neighborhoods have energetic people who care about where they live. Coconut Grove has had its share of civic energy, but truthfully, it’s looking now for a shot in the arm. A recent Miami Herald article noted some of the changes in the neighborhood. Here’s an excerpt:

“Since the heydey of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, the crowds of visitors have declined and many businesses have suffered, even as home prices skyrocketed. The masses that used to fill Peacock Park, and fill the taverns that dotted Main Highway, have moved on to Miami Beach, Wynwood and Midtown Miami.”

An online reader’s comment on the story exemplified the energy I mentioned above.

“What made the Grove special back in the day was that it had a village vibe made up by a connected synergy of originality. From art to boutiques and dining, the choices were many and the common thread was originality. The Grove has natural beauty and a bay that is just blocks away from the center village.”

Then the commentor presented some well-thought-out proposals.

“I think this is the time to a) come up with a united plan for the center Grove area which is in keeping with the village vibe and b) focus on connectivity both within the core village area and to/from the bay area which is in the process of being activated.

“The footprint of Downtown Grove will be increasing in the coming years and now is the time to work on re-establishing the core village — get ready for the developments along the bay and then tie it all in together.”

While I can’t judge whether these are good solutions or not, the point is that this type of analysis opens the mind. If we can view the Coconut Grove situation much as the life cycle of a business product, we understand that there will be introduction, growth, maturity, saturation and decline.

It’s up to the critical thinkers like the one above to help start the life cycle again.

After all, every neighborhood needs its LeBron.