Historic Virginia Key is Looking to the Future

By staff writer

April 2019

As its name implies, Historic Virginia Key Beach Park is rich with history. Since it reopened in 2008, however, the park has wasted no time in establishing itself as both an environmental preserve area and a prime site for cultural events.

Virginia Key’s history dates back to the 1920s, when it became a haven for the local African American population due to segregation. It remained a segregated zone in the 1950s and was closed by the city in 1982 due to high maintenance costs. In 1999, however, a group of locals that called themselves the Virginia Key Beach Park Civil Rights Task Force organized in response to developers looking to buy the land. As a result of their efforts to highlight the value of the park’s history, the city established the Virginia Key Beach Park Trust to oversee its future development.

Since it reopened to the public in 2008, Historic Virginia Key Beach Park has become a popular site for everything from summer camps to large music festivals. In a recent conversation with Invest: Miami, Guy Forchion, the park’s executive director, highlighted the park’s value as a community center — particularly for local youth.  

“The YMCA opened a summer camp here focused on marine biology before we even opened up to the public. Two years ago, we added two other summer camps,” Forchion explained. “HistoryMiami Museum brings students and schools through for tours of the park as well, which is truly the future of the park — being able to tell its story to young people and educate them about its history.”

The park hosted the 2018 House of Creatives Music and Arts Festival last November, which featured regional, national and international music groups, including big names such as Foster the People and MIA. The festival also showcased local cuisine with an array of vendors from various restaurants in the area.

This event came on the heels of the widely publicized announcement that the park would be the site of the famous Ultra Music Festival, which traditionally has been held in downtown Miami’s Bayfront Park.

“The people with the Ultra Music Festival worked with us very actively and responsively from the moment they announced the event would happen here,” said Forchion. “Ultra did a great job working with us to protect the natural environment here as well. They did all they could to protect the area and make the event as ‘green’ as possible.”  

He said the music festival had a minimal impact on the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park venue, though a more comprehensive assessment of the event’s impact on the property would follow.  “With several more days of production breakdown and loadout, we look forward to the opportunity to review the property in its entirety,” he said.

Outside of providing a fantastic venue for music and arts, the park is also crucial to the study of rising sea levels. “There has been an incredible change in our shoreline in just the last eight years,” Forchion explained. “The park is a living experiment in this regard, and the University of Miami has had classes come and spend a week on the beach each year to do research on rising sea levels, as well as on the aquatic ecosystem here.”

The park was also recently awarded an Institute of Museum and Library Sciences grant to digitize its extensive photo archive. And future goals include the establishment of a full-blown museum — a project Forchion and the city have been working on. They’ve already drafted legislation to fund the planning and construction of the museum.

The park generates “a lot of revenue,” Forchion pointed out — a fact that can only help their cause.

To help preserve the park’s legacy and enrich its future, locals can make donations to the park by visiting: https://virginiakeybeachpark.net/donate/

Palm Beach’s Boat Show Boosts Tourism, Growth

By staff writer

April 2019

This weekend, Palm Beach County residents and tourists were treated to the 34th annual Palm Beach International Boat Show, billed as one of the nation’s top 5 boat shows in the country. This year’s show featured more than $1.2 billion worth of yachts and accessories, including hundreds of boats, ranging from 10-foot inflatables to super yachts hundreds of feet long.

“Fifty-one percent of the people who visit Palm Beach County come to West Palm Beach,” West Palm Beach Mayor Geraldine Muoio told Invest: Palm Beach. “And this event’s just another great reason for individuals to check out everything the city has to offer.”

The public was also treated to four days of luxury watercrafts, exhibitions and seminars, as well as the enticing fare of of more than 100 food vendors. And for those with a little extra to spend, a luxurious VIP experience included access to a premium open bar and exclusive access to events throughout the weekend.

Those events included seminars taught by the world-class International Game Fish Association School of Sportfishing and an “AquaZone” sponsored by Nautical Ventures which showcased products ranging from kayaks to a self-propelled, stand-up paddleboards. For younger anglers, there were fishing clinics presented by Hook the Future, providing hands-on fishing instruction to kids of all ages.

Maybe the biggest attraction of the show, though, was once more its beautiful setting in a world-famous, luxurious location. In places such as Palm Beach, where tourism is the major driver of the economy, events such as this one help boost that tourism further, while attracting many others to town, too.

As Palm Beach’s tourism industry grows, events such as the Palm Beach International Boat Show will continue to play a vital role in that growth.

For more information on our interviewee and the event, visit:

https://www.pbboatshow.com/en/home.html

https://wpb.org/

 

PortMiami: Gateway to the Global Economy

By staff writer

March 2019

To say that 2018 was a banner year for PortMiami would be an understatement.

According to the port’s website, 5,592,000 cruise passengers travelled through the port last fiscal year, a 4.7 percent jump from 2017, making it the busiest cruise port in the world.

In conversations with Invest: Miami, Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald highlighted that the port is “breaking its own record” for cruise passengers — a testament to the city’s value as a travel and tourism destination.

Mayor Gimenez has said he expects the port to surpass seven million passengers by 2020, which is further testament to Miami being an excellent city for people to begin their cruise vacation, as well as to the great team of people who work at and provide support to PortMiami,” Donald explained. “Of our nine global cruise line brands, two-thirds of them bring guests to and from Miami as part of their vacation experiences. AIDA Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Costa Cruises, P&O Cruises (UK), Princess Cruises and Seabourn will all call on PortMiami in the next year.”

Aside from tourism and cruises, however, much of the port’s economic impact can be attributed to its vital function as a cargo hub.

When Invest: Miami sat down with Juan Kurlya, PortMiami’s director and CEO, he noted that investing in infrastructure improvement for cargo transport is critical for maintaining the port’s reputation as one of the fastest-growing and most active ports in the country.

“Growth is expected to continue as the world’s leading ocean carriers take advantage of PortMiami’s recent capital infrastructure investments, including channel deepening, new Post-Panamax gantry cranes, on-dock intermodal rail and direct interstate access via the new tunnel,” said Kurlya. “Without our infrastructure upgrades, we wouldn’t be experiencing the growth in containerized cargo vessels we’re seeing today.”

It is safe to say that these strategic investments and improvements are paying off. In fiscal year 2018, the port handled a staggering 1.084 million TEUs of cargo, with each TEU representing a standard 20-foot container.

Despite its record-setting numbers, however, PortMiami has no plans to slow its growth any time soon. Long-term goals include establishing a route to Miami from Western Africa. Furthermore, the port will welcome a new Virgin Voyages cruise terminal in 2020. Norwegian Cruise Lines and MSC cruises have also announced plans to open terminals in the fall of 2019 and 2022, respectively.

To learn more about the port and our interviewees, visit:

http://www.carnivalcorp.com/
http://www.miamidade.gov/portmiami/

 

 

Experience Aventura Mall

By staff writer

March 2019

With over 300 stores ranging from luxury retail to mass market, an onsite resort and golf course, seemingly limitless dining options and museum-quality art, it should come as no surprise that the Aventura Mall ranked number two on Travel + Leisure’s list of “America’s Most Visited Shopping Malls.”

The mall is the largest in Florida, and with a whopping 28 million annual visitors, it is a testament to the value of experiential retail and how it can be utilized to draw in customers and capital.

As the e-commerce industry continues to rise nationally, malls such as Aventura highlight the value behind experiential retail — i.e., offering customers a multifaceted and immersive retail setting that allows them to do much more than simply shop.

“The stores that need to be experiential tend to cater to the higher-end demographic. Cocowalk and the Aventura Mall’s expansions are examples of this,” explained Hue Chen, president of Saglo Development, in a recent conversation with Invest: Miami. “Retailers need to continue to add to their offerings in ways that make their businesses unique to their customers. It’s important to be memorable.”

What sets the Aventura Mall apart from other large, experiential malls is its emphasis on sophistication and cultural enrichment.

“The Collection,” a collection of sculptures and art installations found throughout the mall, showcases work from world-renowned international and local artists such as Robert Indiana, Claire Fontaine and Brian Butler. The Collection is so expansive that visitors can sign up for guided tours of the mall to learn more about the art featured.

In addition to art, visitors to the mall can take advantage of its many events scheduled throughout the year, ranging from fashion shows, to launch events for major clothing brands such as Lacoste, to food festivals.

As if the mall wasn’t already well equipped to attract tourists, there is also a luxury hotel — the JW Marriott Turnberry Resort and Spa — onsite that offers a golf course and free transportation for visitors to and from the site.

When Invest: Miami spoke with Jackie Soffer, CEO and chairman of Turnberry Associates and principal owner of the Aventura Mall, she highlighted the mall as one of the reasons Aventura itself has become a “well-known shopping destination” that continues to draw in vacationers.

“Weve grown the mall, which is now easily one of the top malls in the country and has over the years changed for the better in terms of its sophistication and quality of tenants,” Soffer told Invest:. “We are continuing to expand Aventura with plans for new hotels and an office building.”

The mall expanded in 2017 and opened a new three-level wing that features retail outlets such as Zara and Topshop Topman, as well as modern architecture by Carlos Zapata. This speaks volumes for the innovative and forward-thinking nature of the Aventura Mall and its leaders, as that same year 7,000 malls closed their doors nationwide. There’s no question the nature of American retail is changing, but the Aventura Mall is staying well ahead of the game!

To learn more about the mall and its offerings, as well as our interviewees, visit the following websites:

Aventura Mall: https://aventuramall.com/
Turnberry Associates: https://www.turnberry.com/
Saglo Development: http://www.saglo.com/

 

Visit, Work, Play!

By staff writer

March 2019

Miami has long been touted as a “live, work, play” city. The growth of the city’s business ecosystem seen over the last 10 years has worked to further this reputation, with thousands of international and national investors and companies flocking to the city to both support and capitalize on its growth.

Given that Miami’s already strong tourism industry has seen even more growth in recent years, it should come as no surprise that a significant portion of those visiting the city (whether to work, play or both) do so for business-related purposes.

According to the Greater Miami Convention Center and Visitors Bureau, of the nearly 16 million people who visited Miami in 2017, 7 percent did so for business. With the bureau’s 2018 report due out in May, one can reasonably expect this number to be even higher.

The city’s hotels have, of course, taken note of this trend and followed suit. The hotels’ strategic locations, coupled with the array of amenities and event venues provided by each, all work to provide this balance.

An excellent example of this is the Hyatt Regency Miami. The hotel is located in downtown along the Miami River and is connected to the city’s James L. Knight Center, a noted venue for concerts and conventions. In addition to the hotel’s luxury accommodations and proximity to the port, airport and much of the city’s famous nightlife and dining venues, the hotel has unique offerings for business travelers.

For instance, the Hyatt brand offers a unique “Meetings on Demand” service that allows visitors to reserve spaces in the hotel for business, specifically conference rooms, meeting venues, boardrooms and co-working spaces. Visitors can also request deluxe accommodations, such as food and drink packages and customized room setups.

Furthermore, given that the hotel contains over 100,000 square feet of event and meeting space that is directly connected to the Knight Center’s convention center, its capability for hosting large events is almost limitless. This is key considering, on average, about half of the city’s business travelers come to Miami for conventions, specifically.

In 2018 alone, the Hyatt Regency hosted an array of events that reflected the city’s dynamic economy, such as the internationally-recognized World Stem Cell Summit, the 2018 U.S. Cannabis Conference & Expo and the Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum. Events planned for 2019 include the return of the Stem Cell Summit, the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce Symposium and Business Luncheon, as well as the Miami Career Fair.

With the hotel industry as a whole facing a degree of uncertainty and competition due to the rise in popularity of short-term hospitality rental services such as AirBnb, unique capabilities and accommodations are crucial for attracting visitors.

Thanks to local hotels such as the Hyatt Regency, however, Miami’s hotels still remain the most popular choice by far for visitors. According to the GMCVB’s report, 66.5% of visitors to the city chose to stay in area hotels, with only 4.8% electing to rent a residence.

To learn more about the Hyatt Regency and its offerings for business travelers, visit the following:

https://meetingsondemand.hyatt.com/OnlineBooking/

https://www.hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/florida/hyatt-regency-miami/miarm

 

Booming Blooms

By staff writer

February 2019

More people visit public gardens annually in America (78 million) than visit Las Vegas (48 million) or Disneyland (11 million) and Disneyworld (11 million) combined. This is great news for Atlanta, whose garden tourism industry has been blossoming in the past few years.

Metro Atlanta is home to a number of beautiful gardens, including the Atlanta History Center Goizueta Gardens, Callaway Resort and Gardens, Dunaway Gardens, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia and Gibbs Gardens.

 

“We’re going to be doing a lot with our gardens in 2019,” Sheffield Hale, CEO of the Atlanta History Center, told Focus: Atlanta when he sat down with our team last year. “A lot is going to open. That’s a whole other focus that people don’t even know about: our 22 acres of gardens.”

The 33 acres that comprise the Atlanta History Center campus are home to six historic gardens, each of which represents a period in Georgia’s history, from its pre-colonial settlement to the 1930s. Visitors can spend hours — or even days — exploring the enchanting gardens, woodlands and trails.

According to USA Today, the Atlanta Botanical Garden is one of the top 10 best botanical gardens in the U.S. The garden occupies a 30-acre site dedicated solely to the care and enjoyment of a variety of plants and flowers. Its 200,000 annual visitors in 2010 more than doubled to 500,000 in 2017, underscoring the growing popularity of these green attractions.

Barnsley Resort directly incorporates gardens and hospitality by connecting travelers to nature and an outdoor lifestyle. More than 3,000 acres in size, the resort offers countless hands-on learning experiences in its beautiful gardens and takes advantage of the boom in garden tourism. In fact, the attraction opened a new 55-room inn and 9,000-square-foot event space called Georgian Hall in early 2018.

The City of Atlanta has also taken note of the emerging garden tourism industry. In May 2018, the Atlanta City Council approved a $100 million expansion project within Piedmont Park that includes the botanical gardens. According to a press release from the City of Atlanta, “The expansion project will include a connection to the Atlanta BeltLine, improved pedestrian trails and access to Piedmont Park, additional open greenspace and forested land.” Piedmont is one of the most visited parks in Atlanta, and this expansion is sure to attract even more visitors.

While it’s difficult to measure the economic impact of garden tourism, there’s no doubt that visitors who come to tour Atlanta’s parks and gardens contribute significantly to the local economy. And it’s more than just at hotels, restaurants and shops but also at the metro area’s diverse offerings of cultural organizations. In fact, one research study found that the single most common denominator among cultural tourists was an interest in gardening. This is one blooming industry that Focus: Atlanta will be keeping an eye on as we move into 2019!

For more information on our interviewee, visit http://www.atlantahistorycenter.com/.

 

 

 

Bricks and Clicks

By staff writer

February 2019

According to a Statista report, in 2017 a total value of $2.3 trillion in sales were made on the global online marketplace. By 2021, those sales are projected to reach $4.5 trillion. Mobile commerce hit $700 billion in revenue in 2017, which was equivalent to more than 300 percent growth over the previous four years. There’s no question that e-commerce is rapidly growing its share of total U.S. retail sales; in fact, online sales currently represent nearly 10 percent of retail sales in the U.S., and that number is expected to increase by almost 15 percent each year.

However, even as this massive game-changer disrupts the retail industry, brick and mortar stores are innovating and adapting to make sure they stay in the game. Some companies are even finding that e-commerce is simply amplifying an already successful retail model. For the Las Olas Company, a leading commercial real estate and hospitality company in Fort Lauderdale that owns and manages the Riverside Hotel and leases office space and more than 50 locations of retail space on the bustling Las Olas Boulevard, e-commerce hasn’t had a negative impact.

“E-commerce is not really impacting the retail we’re trying to attract because some of the retail companies that we’re talking to are market leaders in that area,” Michael Weymouth, president of the Las Olas Company, told Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale when he sat down with our team in October. “People come to the stores to sample the goods — whether it’s clothing, high fashion or something else — and then they order it and have it shipped to their house the next day. I don’t know very many people who go into a store, buy a shirt and literally wear it out. To have it delivered the next day to your house is almost more convenient; that way, you don’t have to carry the bag around.”

In a world where instant access, round-the-clock accessibility and lightning-quick turnaround are not only desired but also expected, retailers are turning to e-commerce to deliver. Millennials make 54 percent of their purchases online, and for non-millennials that number is only slightly lower, at 49 percent. More than three-quarters of these online shoppers report they would like their products shipped the same day.

In addition to augmenting service, e-commerce allows retailers to set up their brick and mortar shops in smaller spaces and encourages them to provide a more personalized in-store experience. Physical retail is far from dead, and even as its share of the market drops, it is still expected to be well over 80 percent five years from now. In fact, online giant Amazon is today one of the biggest players in the brick and mortar game.

E-commerce is disruptive, but with the right flexibility and foresight retailers can capitalize on the benefits of both the clicks and bricks spaces. The Las Olas Company sees this as opportunity.

“Overall, we are well-positioned with our new product coming online to attract national brands, along with our existing product, which is mostly boutique,” Weymouth told Invest:. “E-commerce is a way for a lot of these companies to be able to service downtown residents without having to take a huge retail footprint. What’s going on in the retail industry is disruptive, there’s no question about that, but there’s a solution to it. And we happen to be in a good spot to offer that solution.”

To learn more about our interviewee, visit http://thelasolascompany.com/.

Historic Virginia Key Looks to the Future

By staff writer

February 2019

Credit: EventUP

As its name implies, Historic Virginia Key Beach Park is rich with history. Since it reopened in 2008, however, the park has wasted no time in establishing itself as both an environmental preserve area and a prime site for cultural events.

Virginia Key’s history dates back to the 1920s, when it became a haven for the local African-American population due to segregation. It remained a segregated zone in the 1950s and was closed by the city in 1982 due to high maintenance costs. In 1999, however, a group of locals called the Virginia Key Beach Park Civil Rights Task Force organized in response to developers looking to buy the land. As a result of their efforts to highlight the value of the park’s history, the city established the Virginia Key Beach Park Trust to oversee its future development.

Since it officially reopened to the public in 2008, Historic Virginia Key Beach Park has become a popular site for everything from ecosystem restoration projects to large music festivals. In a recent conversation with Invest: Miami, Guy Forchion, the park’s executive director, highlighted the park’s value as a community center.  

“Historic Virginia Key Beach Park is a community meeting space, which is historically what this spot has been for communities of color in the past,” Forchion explained. “It was a space for the African-American communities and people of color; now it is a space for everyone. A lot of community activities, dialogues and fellowship can happen here.”

The park recently hosted the 2018 House of Creatives Music and Arts Festival last November, which featured regional, national and international music groups, including big names such as Foster the People and MIA. The festival also showcased local cuisine with an array of vendors from various restaurants in the area. This event came on the heels of the widely publicized announcement that the park would be the future site of the famous Ultra Music Festival, which traditionally has been held in downtown Miami’s Bayfront Park.

Outside of providing a fantastic venue for music and arts festivals, the park is also crucial to the study of sea-level rise. “There has been an incredible change in our shoreline in just the last eight years,” Forchion explained. “Virginia Key is one of the monitoring locations for sea-level rise, and much of the research and studies happen close to us. Sea-level rise is being tracked, and it’s actually moving a bit faster in South Florida than most of the public timelines predicted. We are taking these things into consideration with the facility we are building.”

The facility Forchion is referring to is the museum that park officials hoped to start building back in 2008 to showcase the park’s history. However, due to the recession, in 2009 the City of Miami halted funding for the park, which now relies heavily on corporate philanthropy and private donors to maintain operations.

To help preserve the park’s legacy and enrich its future, locals can make donations to the park by visiting: https://virginiakeybeachpark.net/donate/

 

Port Everglades Sails into a Promising New Year

By staff writer

January 2019

Last year was, arguably, the most dynamic and prosperous year that Port Everglades has ever seen, and the port’s status as a catalyst for Broward’s economy is showing no signs of slowing down. Its growth and development is gaining international attention and generating thousands of jobs for the area.

“Today, Port Everglades is directly responsible for 13,185 jobs and produces over $1 billion in state and local taxes annually,” said Port Everglades Chief Executive and Port Director Steven Cernak in conversation with Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale. “For us, it’s all about economic impact. That’s the benefit we provide to the community: jobs and economic activity.”

The port attracted 3.87 million passengers in fiscal year 2018, according to its annual report, and this number is bound to increase moving forward.

In the 2019 winter season the port will welcome 10 new Holland America cruise ships, the first of which — Nieuw Statendam debuted at the port in December after sailing from Civitavecchia, Italy. With a capacity of 2,666 cruisers, the ship alone is expected to garner over 102,000 passengers and generate around $1.8 million in revenue.

The influx of Holland America ships to the port comes on the heels of the port’s recent addition of a Celebrity Cruises’ Terminal 25. The facility represents the largest investment ever made by the port, costing around $120 million to build, and will accommodate several Celebrity ships throughout the winter season.

In addition to driving tourism for the area, the port has also blossomed in terms of its cargo capacity, and it has implemented a five-year expansion plan that will entail nearly $1 billion in improvements to the port’s infrastructure to further increase its cargo volumes. This should prove to be a worthwhile investment, as the port experienced a 2 percent increase in bulk and breakbulk cargo tonnage in fiscal year 2018.

When Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale spoke with Craig Mygatt, CEO of Sealand, he highlighted the port’s advantages for transporting goods to and from Latin America, stating that the port’s strength “lies with the north-south routes, especially for perishable and agricultural goods, because the port is good at moving freight through the system quickly.”

As the number one port in Florida in terms of revenue, Port Everglades has successfully positioned itself as an international and economic hub for South Florida. Thanks to its strategic investments and expansions, 2019 is sure to be another banner year for the port.

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit their websites:

Port Everglades: http://www.porteverglades.net/

Sealand: https://www.sealandmaersk.com/