Bayside Marketplace is Miami’s number one tourist destination for the simple reason that it embodies Miami as few places can. Food, shopping, live music, dancing, boats, people from all walks of life, and the little weirdness — a huge snake welcomes visitors ready to be embraced for a photo. Not to mention Biscayne Bay in its azure brilliance or thunderous magnificence.
“And the music goes on and on past the children's bedtime,” complained a downtown resident from across the boulevard. “Salsa, reggaeton, what have you, keeping us up to the wee hours.”
The DNA met in October with Bayside Management. The first item on the agenda: scheduling. “Weekdays, the music stops at 10 pm. Weekends at eleven,” observed Pamela Weller, Bayside Senior General Manager. We are talking about the main stage, where local musicians perform daily. Tenants are a different story. “As long as they don’t disturb residents, they can legally go on to 5 am. But, Mojito Bar, to give you an example, has installed sound barriers… If it doesn't bother anyone, it’s not a problem,”
Still, how to explain complains?
The affable and dynamic General Manager wielded a hypothesis: Bayside was not responsible for the disruptive loud music, but some boats at the Marina.
A hypothesis, we all know, is an invitation to support or disprove. Bayside and the DNA agreed on a one-month trial test. Residents in adjacent buildings could call a hotline 24/7 to air their complaints and a security officer would get to the heart of the matter. Furthermore, a DNA representative would be allowed to join security to investigate the source of the complaint and catch the culprit red-handed.
Fast forward to November 9. Pamela Weller presents an update on the trial-period to the DNA and representatives of various downtown buildings: “Five calls were recorded, of which three were legitimate. The three calls had a satisfactory resolution.”
President Ronald Reagan used to say, ‘trust with verification.’ Downtown NEWS contacted a resident at 50 Biscayne who had called more than once. Could she share her experience? Gladly, she agreed, under the condition of anonymity: “The calls I made were after 10 pm. The person answering the call was always polite and attentive. After taking down my name and building, he advised that they would send someone to check on the source of the noise. It usually took between 10–20 minutes for the music to cease. As a resident, I am very appreciative of this initiative as it makes me feel like I am being heard and that my serenity in my own apartment is being respected.”
Amal Solh Kabbani, DNA President, added: “The DNA is very pleased with the positive cooperation and integrity of the implementation and the follow through. We hope to reciprocate this neighborly treatment, and further our mutual support!”
A Little History
Bayside Marketplace, the two-story open-mall, dates back to 1987. Modeled after Boston’s Quincy Market and the Harborplace in Baltimore, Bayside Marketplace was built within Bayfront Park and around the existing Marina in an L-shape with the octagonal Hard Rock Cafe to the south. The book Miami Architecture describes it: “Bayside’s restrained yet colorful architecture alludes to the metal-roofed market sheds of the former British West Indies.”
A few years after Time Magazine published the infamous piece about a South Florida overtaken by drugs: Paradise Lost, then-mayor Maurice Ferré thought that Bayside Marketplace would be the catalyst for a downtown transformation. He was right. The Addriene Arsh Center for the Performing Arts and other landmark institutions followed, leading the way for Downtown’s renaissance. (Coincidentally, as this article was filed, November 15, City Commissioners voted unanimously to rename Museum Park after the 6-term former mayor of Miami Maurice Ferré.)
In 2015, Miami voters approved a revamping of the downtown marketplace, which is now managed by the Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation. A quick walk through the place attests to the undergoing renovations — well-needed after decades facing the impetuous elements. You can see new awnings, new colors, electronic signage, and upgraded kiosks. The huge snake and colorful macaws waiting for the souvenir photo for a fee remain the same. Macaws are parrots known for their longevity, with a lifespan between 60 and 70 years.
Also a constant is the culinary offerings fluctuating from the all-American Hooters to the Bavarian Haus, from Los Ranchos Steakhouse to the Caribbean Mambo Café. For a full listing of restaurants — and the list is long — visit the official Bayside Market page. Surprisingly for a tourist staple, prices are reasonable.
Aside for Mojitos
Arguably, Miami’s favorite drink is the Mojito. What is a mojito? Basically, a cocktail containing white rum, lime or lemon juice, sugar, mint, ice, and sparkling water. The idea is obvious, a refreshing drink for a hot city. Mixologists’ creative juices, however, can run wild under the Miami moon, and you can order a dirty mojito, a frosty one, and mango, guava, burry, cucumber or a healthy variation. Healthy? Green tea with no sugar.
Two monumental additions are planned to come soon. The SkyRise, a 1,000-foot observation tower and vertical amusement park. People behind the SkyRise like to say it would be Miami’s Eiffel Tower. Detractors deride it as a giant penis.
Less controversial is a Ferris wheel, of which Pamela Weller recalled the genesis: “Sitting out looking at the Bay, about two years ago, we thought how iconic and magical would be to have a Sky Wheel in Bayside. Something akin to the London’s Eye, but smaller and unobtrusive. We selected the company RCS with safety as our main criterium. We wanted the actual wheel to be see-through, so it wouldn’t block any views. And we wanted a company that cared about the community.”
The Ferris Wheel
The Sky Wheel is not for thrill-seekers. Rather, it’s family-oriented entertainment, and can be romantic. You and that special one up in a gondola for a fifteen-minute eternity — in one hand the ubiquitous phone, in the other, of course, an ice-cold mojito (if allowed.) Or simply holding hands detached from the world.
On that high note, a strophe from a poem by Robin Herrera sings best the virtues of the Ferris wheel: “Hope is a Ferris wheel- / It takes Low and High; / And when you reach the Top,/ It’s like you can touch The Sky! /And when it takes you Down- / Hope becomes A Thing / That, When you’re getting Off, / You take With you to Bring.”