Reflection on Tony Goldman, urban neighborhood visionary, 1943-2012, and what happens next

[youtube=]Tony Goldman, urban neighborhood and community visionary, born in Wilmington, Delaware (me too) in 1943, died last week in Manhattan.  From NYTimes writer Leslie Kaufman: "Roberta Brandes Gratz, the author of several books on urban lifestyles and a former member of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, said Mr. Goldman’s genius was in recognizing not just the value of old buildings but also the importance of their context.  'He understood that what makes a neighborhood is the diversity of uses,' she said."  Full article here. From Miami Herald writer Elinor Brecher: "In the 1980s he made a real estate move that would make him famous, buying 18 rundown properties in New York’s South of Houston neighborhood: now SoHo, the trendy residential loft district.  Goldman saw the historic cast-iron façades through the layers of grime and decay and understood that some day, New Yorkers would pay top dollar to live there.  He explained that he’d gone into SoHo 'when it was still raw. It had architectural integrity, a small scale and the community was obsessed with preservation.'"

"His biggest challenge came in Miami’s scruffy warehouse district, Wynwood.  As prices rose, Goldman began buying up properties in Wynwood, which was attracting artists but remained deserted and forbidding at night.  'For me, it was its grid system,' Goldman said in a 2009 Herald story.  'I love the fact that the buildings are up to the street line. The setback thing is a suburban thing — it doesn’t do it for me.'"  Full article here.

Thank you, Tony Goldman.  In Miami, urban neighborhoods didn't have a better advocate than him because he actually built them.  I blog about them, some people draw or speechify about them, but Tony Goldman got things done, great things.  Go to a Gallery Walk and see.

I know several young professionals in Miami who want to be "the next Tony Goldman".  There is plenty of work to do, South Beach and Wynwood can get even better, and every Miami neighborhood deserves better.  We know what other cities' great urban neighborhoods look like -- the North End, South End, West Village, Park Slope, Georgetown, Charleston, French Quarter, Old San Juan, Cartagena -- why do we deserve less?

My message is: Be the next Tony Goldman.  All of you.  Because we're going to need all of you.  Our kids and grandkids need all of us, the entire next generation of real estate professionals -- developers, investors, lenders, tenants, designers, engineers, public officials, researchers, etc. -- to leave them better urban neighborhoods.

Be the next Tony Goldman starting now, boldly, because no current interest -- financial or political -- outweighs making places to live with more convenience, diversity, equality, beauty, culture, health, and prosperity.  See the world through "Tony glasses", then take action!