When COVID-19 hit Miami Beach, the Lincoln Road Business Improvement District (BID), like many bustling areas around the country, became a ghost town.
As local business leaders were locked down, during the early days of the pandemic, they started talking about making Lincoln Road a destination when things reopened. They decided that concepts gaining popularity before COVID, like popups and outdoor fitness classes, could activate their empty spaces
“We took a more holistic approach and said, how do we make this Lincoln road community more interesting because it sits in the middle of the urban fabric in Miami Beach,” says Lyle Stern, president of Koniver Stern, a retail leasing and consulting company in Miami Beach.
The Lincoln Road Business Improvement District (BID) and the brokerage community in Miami Beach came up with a plan to create alternative uses for vacant retail space, empty parking garages and the open-air pedestrian promenade – through arts, culture, and fitness activations.
Given the number of fitness enthusiasts in Miami Beach, offering exercise options made perfect sense.
“In all the yoga studios, the bicycle studios and the boot camp spaces, you weren’t allowed to work out,” Stern says. “We saw people just running in the street, walking in the street and biking in the city, and there seemed to be no central place to do it.”
With many parking lots sitting empty, the Lincoln Road BID developed workout areas by converting a garage at the 1111 building into a 25,000 square-foot fitness studio. The complimentary bootcamp and yoga classes are limited to 70 participants to ensure social distancing practices are maintained – the floors are also pre-marked with squares spaced 10-feet apart.
The Lincoln Road District is also the home to New World Symphony, which remains closed due to COVID-19.
“We started talking about the New World Symphony because they were not going to have a place to play this season,” Stern says. “It’s not likely with the rules that will be in a place that you’ll be able to go back into the symphony hall and sit next to somebody. So we said, ‘What would it look like to bring the symphony to Lincoln Road?’”
The BID employed the musicians from the symphony to entertain pedestrians, diners and shoppers from golf carts, driven up and down the Lincoln Road. By keep roving musicians in constant motion, the BID ensures that crowds don’t gather. But it still provides consumers with the arts and cultural experiences along Lincoln Road.
“We tried it over the summer, and it was a huge hit,” Stern says. “There is a moment when everybody turns around and says, ‘Oh my God, what is this?’ We did have some bugs to work out, like coordinating with the restaurants to turn off their music.”
Ballet was also incorporated into the cultural experience at Lincoln Road. The BID and The Comras Company, a South Florida’s retail leasing and development company, transformed a 5,344-square-foot former BCBG boutique into a popup residence for the Miami City Ballet to practice before the public.
“We put speakers outside and turned it into an event where you could come watch the ballet practice,” Stern says.