The Real Deal Miami

Nightlife entrepreneur wants part of new cultural district

By Erik Bojnansky | December 17, 2008 12:07PM

South Beach nightlife entrepreneur David Wallack managed to get his
Miami warehouse included within a proposed Little Haiti “cultural
district,” which makes it easier to serve liquor within its boundaries.

The Miami City Commission last week unanimously amended a bill to
create the Lemon City/Little Haiti French Creole Cultural Arts and
Entertainment District. Its boundaries include a 7,000-square-foot
warehouse and 3,000 square feet of vacant land owned by Wallack. If the
commission approves the ordinance on second reading in January, the
first 20 liquor establishments to set up along NE Second Avenue between
53rd and 63rd streets will be immune from a law that keeps
establishments with full liquor licenses from setting up shop 1,500
feet from each other.

Wallack, who also owns Mango’s Tropical Café at 900 Ocean Drive in
Miami Beach — famed for its dance-trained staff, says the district will
revitalize Little Haiti and increase the value of commercial properties.

“It can only bring expansion, expansion of business, expansion of
creativity, expansion of art,” Wallack said. “Any time you increase
the generation of revenue it adds to the property value — that would be
a natural by-product.”

Wallack wanted to be a part of that by-product. Wallack said he “would
probably seek to do the most happening nightclub in the area” once his
properties were included in the Lemon City/Little Haiti district. “I
have one of the largest Haitian art collections,” he said. “They
would certainly be nice to put on the [warehouse’s] walls.”

According to the Miami-Dade Property Appraisers Office, Wallack’s
Little Haiti property was valued at $490,139. Wallack purchased the
warehouse and lot for $595,000 in December 2004.

Outside of special districts, the city of Miami has no means of issuing
variances for a code requiring that full liquor serving establishments
be 1,500 feet away from each other. Restaurants with beer and wine
licenses can open almost anywhere in Miami but owners and management
risk arrest if another beverage is served without food.

During the same Dec. 11 meeting the commission fully approved an ordinance waiving distance requirements for restaurants wishing to
obtain a full liquor license within the MiMo District, located between
NE 50th and NE 77th Streets along Biscayne Boulevard. The commission
also moved forward with an ordinance creating Osun’s Village Cultural
Specialty District in Liberty City along NW 7th Avenue between 53rd and
60th street, which would waive distance requirements for the first 20
alcohol-serving establishments. Osun’s Village, like the Lemon City/Little Haiti district, needs a second reading to become law.