MIAMI — “Dad was a deal junkie,” said Goldman Properties chief executive officer Jessica Goldman Srebnick, about the late Tony Goldman, who founded his commercial real estate empire 50 years ago with wedding spoils based on a dare. “The company’s grown into something spectacular with lots of purpose. It’s somewhat daunting on one hand, and on the other, that we celebrate every day.”
Since the anniversary’s official date, Dec. 1, and Tony Goldman’s birthday, Dec. 6, coincide with Miami Art Week, a major affair for the art-entrenched Goldman family regardless of the milestone, the firm is planning a special tribute and retrospective short film in addition to its annual street art exhibitions and dinner. Events will be hosted at its mural-covered courtyard Wynwood Walls and onsite Goldman Global Arts Gallery near its headquarters in the Wynwood Arts District. Portuguese street artist Vhils’ solo show is on view from Dec. 4 to March 31. Street artists Shepard Fairey, Tristan Eaton and Ron English are also expected to attend the dinner, which has grown from an intimate gathering for an underground subculture to 250 guests. Goldman Srebnick likens it to the art movement’s Academy Awards. Her father, a risk taker who took a lot of flak for gentrifying urban wastelands, and the street artists who transformed Wynwood from an industrial neighborhood without any architectural merit into a tourist destination copied worldwide shared common ground.
“Street art can be a solo experience, and you have to be fearless to turn a passion into a profession,” Goldman Srebnick said. She continues her father’s legacy along with her brother, Joey, a partner who was tasked in the mid-Aughts with scouting the deal that would become Wynwood, a follow-up to Goldman’s successful South Beach revival in the Eighties; their mother, Janet, who serves as chairman, and 250 employees. “Dad would borrow money from relatives because banks wouldn’t finance undeveloped areas since there were no comps. Now we have to go in quietly and purchase assets stealthily.”
Developers have good reason to shadow Goldman Properties’ every move. Among projects spanning Boston to St. Petersburg, Fla., successful developments have been in New York’s SoHo, where Goldman really hit his stride in the Seventies and established his signature formula for long-term investment through historic preservation — in this case, cast-iron buildings — and attracting the creative class with restaurants like Greene Street Café, as well as Philadelphia’s Center City, whose 18-story Philadelphia Building, which is undergoing a Millennial makeover and tenant redirection, is the largest property within a portfolio totaling 1.2 million square feet. Or companies can just hire its curating arm in partnership with artist Peter Tunney, Goldman Global Arts, to re-create the Wynwood effect. Clients range from Citi Bike to Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., and Westdale real estate group for its significant holdings in Deep Ellum, an emerging neighborhood near downtown Dallas.
“You’re going to see a whole other level of creativity in that community that will be talked about globally,” predicted Goldman Srebnick of her contributions, which include innovative lighting solutions and large-scale sculptures and rooftop murals that will premier in the first half of 2019. “Westdale wants to make it a world-class destination, but we aren’t going to replicate Wynwood. We dig into the soul and DNA of each neighborhood.”
Like South Beach, Wynwood has evolved into a brand. “Wynwood” hotels and bars have popped up in South Beach, ironically, and halfway around the world. To remain relevant and stay one step ahead of the competition, she’s advancing its wow factor. The 428-space Wynwood Garage alleviates notorious parking problems while adding 20,500 square feet of retail and 30,000 square feet of creative office space to an overpopulated area whose infrastructure is bursting at the seams. The subtle facade’s white-painted aluminum overlay with laser-cut, perforated dots and dashes — Oakland, Calif.-based Faulders Studio’s first completed project in Miami — gives the eye a rest from the barrage of rainbow-colored graffiti. Artist Troy Simmons reimagines his go-to materials of paint, concrete and resin for a yet-to-be-named building’s exteriors. His three-dimensional installation literally leaps out from its surrounding two-dimensional murals.
“It’s beyond street art. I call it Wynwood 2.0,” said Goldman Srebnick of the project with 16,500 square feet of retail space due in late 2019. “Moving forward, we’re challenging ourselves that new construction is unique and differentiated.”
Goldman Properties also curates SoHo’s Houston Bowery Wall with rotating murals by the likes of Banksy, Swoon and Ron English. French street artist JR’s commissioned artwork for Time Magazine, “The Gun Chronicles: A Story of America,” was unveiled in the form of a public mural in late October. His second collaboration with the firm marks the installation’s exclusive viewing in the U.S., though several museums are screening the complimentary video. Goldman Srebnick considers art as much a part of her father’s legacy as real estate. Wynwood Walls was his idea that created a ripple effect on many levels.
“Now other cities want to have it, and companies of all kinds want to infuse creativity into their products and give opportunities to artists like never before. We had a direct impact in that,” she said.
One million people visit Wynwood Walls annually, according to Goldman Srebnick. Though busloads of international tourists pull up daily, she classifies the neighborhood as in its adolescent stage and sees greater potential for design and tenants, especially as traditional brick-and-mortar retail transitions to experiential activations. The company rode out the Great Recession by buying Wynwood property at its market low, but Miami’s boom-and-bust cycles and fickle customers in general are always in focus.
“We can’t take anything for granted. My dad taught me the customer is everybody, and we have to become more customer-centric,” she said.
A showman at heart, Goldman — who died in 2012 — majored in drama at Emerson College, where he met Janet, who cofounded and ran Fragments store and wholesale showroom in New York for 30 years. Goldman Srebnick always thought she’d follow in her mother’s footsteps with a career in fashion — rising to associate fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue during Rose Marie Bravo’s tenure — but was sidetracked when Goldman summoned her to South Beach to open his boutique property, the Todd Oldham-designed Hotel, in the late Nineties. Rather than coast on her last name, the boss’ kid was expected to lead by example and master a rung before advancing to the next.
“Dad put us through every area — hospitality, construction, leasing. We had to learn on our feet,” she said.
Though Joey Goldman has only worked for the family business, he and Goldman Srebnick prefer that their children, who range in age from an infant to their late teens, earn their chops elsewhere. In the meantime, they prepare them for the eventual succession by exposing them to the art world and teaching them how to develop business plans. She acknowledges their business isn’t for the faint of heart and takes enormous commitment and long-term perspective. The next generation may not have inherited Goldman’s DNA for risk, but at least they’ll have the ability to turn a bold idea into reality with his substantial groundwork.
“He was a cross between Ralph Lauren, Armani and Steve Martin. The more people told him he was crazy, the more he loved it,” she said.