What the new Rubell Family Collection museum, which is moving to Allapattah from Wynwood, will look like on the inside.
Lyle Stern had his “aha” moment on a quiet Saturday afternoon last year when he visited Miami’s Allapattah neighborhood with his 11-year-old daughter. Stern, the president of Koniver Stern Group — a leading retail leasing and consulting group based in Miami Beach — took his daughter to a bodega for a $2 fresh fruit shake and to show her the neighborhood around the old Miami Allapattah produce market.
As his daughter called the neighborhood “cool,” Stern looked at the old warehouses and realized he could have been standing in New York’s Meatpacking District or the Fulton Market in Chicago’s West Loop years before they became must-go destinations.
“In my business, we talk of experiential real estate,” Stern said, “places where people can have true experiences, and this is not one where it has to be created — it’s basically here, hiding in plain sight.”
Stern now owns three of those warehouses in Allapattah, joining scores of other investors and entrepreneurs making the move to the neighborhood just west of Wynwood, which stretches east-west from Northwest Seventh Avenue to Northwest 27th Avenue and, from north to south, from 20th Street to 36th Street.
Allapattah, which means alligator in the Seminole language, is one of Miami’s oldest neighborhoods. Just to its south is the Miami River, where despite extensive residential development you can still see small freighters docking to load cargo destined for Latin America and the Caribbean.
The city of Miami recently rezoned much of Allapattah T6-8, which allows for mixed-use buildings to be built up to eight stories with 150 units per acre. And the sprawling neighborhood is teeming with activity.
Last year the Rubell Family Collection art museum, which was instrumental in the development of Wynwood, announced that after 23 years there it will move to a new 100,000-square-foot building on a 2.5-acre campus at 1100 NW 23rd Street on a site purchased by Jason Rubell for $4 million in April 2015. A statement from his mother, Mera Rubell, said the family “enjoyed the process of discovery, whether it’s new artists or emerging neighborhoods,” and that it was “time for us to reimagine our Foundation in a very exciting emerging neighborhood.” She added that the goal was to open the new museum in time for Art Basel in December 2018.
Nearby, Miami Beach developer Robert Wennett paid $16 million for a combined 9.72 acres of land that made up the old Miami Allapattah produce market, which includes two enormous warehouses. Wennett, who paid $103 per square foot for the warehouse space, is best known for building a starkly modern parking garage on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. He has not announced plans for this site.
Stern said that without the commitment from Wennett and the Rubell family, he and his partners probably would not have invested in Allapattah, but the more he learns about the neighborhood, the more he likes it. Small architecture