Early one January morning, the charming and dynamic Pamela Weller, VP Asset Management at Bayside Marketplace, gave us a tour. Most stores, restaurants, kiosks, and amenities had yet to open. A couple have closed for good — a remarkably low number in comparison to other areas. The Pandemic has not spared anyone, but Bayside seems to be on the rebound. “I remember when only a handful of visitors wandered by,” Pamela says, “and now we can see the place bustling, especially on weekends and holydays.”
Downtown News: Who is the typical visitor?
Pamela Weller: It has changed. The tours used to be predominantly Central and South Americans. Now the majority of is domestic, from the Northeast… New York, New Jersey, and further south. Georgia is well represented. Miami offers amazing hotel deals now days. And Bayside Marketplace offers the full Miami experience: food, music, shopping and beautiful settings! What can top Biscayne Bay, right? Here you can enjoy Miami’s seafood, salsa rhythms, and mojitos and other tropical cocktails. We are restarting our live music on weekends at the Marina Stage.
Bayside Market place being an open space, it’s perfect for outdoor dining, drinking, and letting the body do the talking, as one visitor defined dancing.
DN: Of course, we must adhere to safety regulations…
PW: One of our goals has been to educate tenants about social distancing, and making it safe for the public. We made sure each one of our tenants had a plan. In that sense, we have been successful following protocols.
Common wisdom has it that one key to success is innovation. Bayside is undertaking some serious renovations. They are adding 22 feet of balconies and terraces on the second floor. Imagine all that extra space for outdoor dinning, beer gardens, and cigars and rum. Construction should start in April.
New ventures like Margaritaville, Landshark Bar & Grill, and the Venezuelan Lola and La Industria, to mention a few, are now joining staples such as Mambo Café, Hard Rock Café, Segafredo, Chili’s, and Bubba Gump. And for libations, in addition to Mojito Bar, there is Bavarian Beerhall, the Other Daiquiri Bar and Hooters.
DN: People need more than food and drink, people need shopping…
PW: Sportive has just opened. And we have an expanded GUESS and EXPRESS, also Crocs, Victoria’s Secret, Steps New York… And all kinds of electronics, souvenirs, beauty products…
Speaking of successful newcomers, Skyviews Miami, best known as the Wheel, is fast becoming a Miami icon. 20 thousand people have ridden it since opening last October. It towers almost 200 feet above Bayside Marketplace, offering great views of Biscayne Bay, Bayfront Park, and Downtown skyline, with 42 enclosed and climate-controlled Gondolas, including one VIP Gondola that features leather bucket seats, a custom LED light show, and a glass bottom floor.
DN: Has the Wheel marked a difference for the other tenants?
PW: Yes, it has generated lot of traffic.
I returned on a Saturday. The place was bustling. (Most people wore masks, and kept social distance.) That so many people were there demonstrates the traction the place has, and considering it caters to the Cruise-lines and the Arena, both of which have been closed.
As Bayside looks to open a new chapter, Pamela Weller can’t hide her excitement: “We have signed an agreement with Big Bus out of London, the largest operator of open-top sightseeing bus tours in the world, to build a terminal at our northern end, where the parking is. Big Bus is prominent in the Port of Miami, and once it opens, we expect to have constant movement back and forth. We will have an office area where tourists can store luggage.
That is an exiting point to conclude our tour. Just one final thought. For downtown residents, Bayside really is an adventure waiting to happen. People come from all over the nation and the world and we have it across the Boulevard.