Bayside at age 25 a minority business magnet
By Rachel Tannenbaum
Unlike most shopping centers around the nation, most merchants at Bayside Marketplace are minority-owned businesses.
About 74% of all its business owners are minorities, said Pam Weller, Bayside's property manager.
"With the market in Miami, this is easy to achieve," she said. "It is a melting pot."
The large number of minority-owned businesses surpasses a city mandate that required whoever developed Bayside on city-owned waterfront land on Biscayne Boulevard in the heart of downtown Miami to have a representation of local minorities to own part of the project.
The lease agreement between the city and the developer, still effective today, required that 50% of the spaces at the center be leased to minorities.
As the center celebrates its 25th anniversary, 12 original stores with 13 original owners of the nearly 200 original tenants continue to call Bayside home. They are Silver Palace, Comics, Azteca De Oro, Chinese Café (Yeung's Lotus Express), Passage to India, Impact Zone, Let's Make A Daquiri, Sharkey's, Mambo Café, Island Queen Cruises, Bayside Logo Shop and Miami's For Me.
Ms. Weller said that Bayside is not like a regular mall and that 50% are national stories and 50% are regional or local.
"You find things at Bayside that are different," Ms. Weller said. "Each has their own special story and we are honoring them."
Jonathan Neuwirth, owner of Bayside Logo Shop, is an original tenant but not an original owner. He became owner in 1997.
The water, environment, live music and marina his help business, he said.
"People come from the water, it is a huge advantage," Mr. Neuwirth said.
Original owner Trovel Williams opened Passage to India at Bayside after he graduated from college and didn't see a lot of job opportunities.
"I was a student counselor and I wanted to see if this thing [Bayside] everyone was talking about would work," Mr. Williams said.
Although business the past few years has been tough for everyone, he said, he loves Bayside and the openness.
"You have to learn to balance the good against the bad and we have been able to do that, which is a reason why we have stayed here all these years," Mr. Williams said.
While café Savannah Smiles was the first Bayside firm to fail in 1987, Kelly Yeung, owner of Yeung's Lotus Express, has been able to expand his enterprise to 200 restaurants.
"We saw great potential with Bayside and we have strong feelings towards it," Mr. Yeung said. "We have worked hard together and we continue to grow together."
Parker Barnes, owner of Let's Make a Daiquiri, said he thought his business would only be at Bayside for two to three years but it has turned into a 25-year operation.
"Week after week there is more population — 80% of our business is locals even though people think they are tourists because of how close to the port we are," Mr. Barnes said.
He said nightly free music concerts keep visitors coming back, as well as the Miami Heat.
"If the Heat keep cranking out playoffs, we'll keep going," Mr. Barnes said.
Beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Bayside will host a free and open event where the center will officially be awarded the key to the city. Events during the day also include a boat parade and a firework show at 9 p.m.
As a thank-you to the city, Mr. Barnes said during the event that Let's Make A Daiquiri will be offering 1987 prices for virgin and alcohol daiquiris.
"We are offering $3.50 alcohol daiquiris and $2.50 virgin," Mr. Barnes said. "It is a thank-you to everyone."
As the City of Miami honors Bayside with a key to the city, Ms. Weller said the marketplace is honoring the original tenants with 13 keys to Bayside.
"It is a way to honor them and thank them," she said.
The center nestles between Bayfront Park to the south and the AmericanAirlines Arena to the north. Designed during a major real estate boom, it was intended to rejuvenate downtown Miami and prevent the area from becoming a low-income, low-density area.
When it was built, the $93 million shopping entertainment center promised to bring 10 million to 14 million visitors annually. Today, the center attracts on average 22 million people a year.
Ms. Weller said Bayside's success is a joint effort between the city and the community.
"This is an example of how the government and private enterprise can work together," she said.
Developed under the guidance of James Dausch, vice president of the Rouse Co., the goal was to turn the area into a strong, active core area with business, recreation and other facilities.
"Jim went into areas where there was opportunity and didn't look at areas like a developer," Ms. Weller said. "He was a visionary; he really went into the downtown area and brought people back."
Details: (305) 577-3344 or www.BaysideMarketplace.com
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