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In This Issue

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PUBLISHED BY // JES comm, LLC
JOHN EDWARD SMITH COMMUNICATIONS © 2023-24
Published four times annually online at www.somimag.com
PUBLISHER // CREATIVE DIRECTOR // John Edward Smith
SENIOR ART DIRECTOR // Jose Roque – DesignWorks Miami, Inc. //
WEB DESIGN // Six Foot 3

Contributing Writers & Article Resources
Marilyn Brown, Meg Daly, Belen Estacio, Peter B. Laird, Max Lazega, Anabel Mendes, Donna
Shelley, Roberto Suarez, Fernanda Torres, Jane Watkins

For more information, please contact the publisher: JES comm, LLC • Postal Box 431597
Miami, FL 33243-1597 • VM 305.665.2838 Email: jes@somimag.com

“John Edward” Smith
Creative Director & Publisher
FROM THE PUBLISHER

The ground has been broken on The Underline Phase 3 of the ten-mile urban trail, which is transforming a barren landscape under the Metrorail into a vibrant recreational community connector. 

SoMi’s only art gallery, The Wirtz Gallery at United Community bank, continues to host local and international artists each month.  And this month, the gallery has “gone Ape” – literally!  Check out the current exhibition.  Congratulations to the Area Stage Company team for continuing to present outstanding critically acclaimed performances.  A production of Oliver is being presented at the Adrienne Arsht Center in February.  

In this issue, take a walk with me as I visit some of the new businesses investing in our community.  From food to fitness, take a walk around and see what’s new in town.

As we observe our respective religious and cultural traditions, I wish you and your families a blessed and joyful holiday season.

TOWN CENTER
FAVORITES

Eccellente!

Gianfranco C., Coral Gables

In learning of the new Italian restaurant in South Miami I had to make my way over there.  The spirit and enthusiasm among the staff, greeting me “Buongiorno” at the door set the stage for a memorable lunch.  The one dish I always try as a determining criterion is the beef carpaccio.  The presentation and flavors were just great.  Verace will become a great place to host my business lunches.  All the best to the team.

Verace Cucina Italiana | 7301 SW 57 Court | 305.740.8118

Just One Bite

Susanna B., South Miami

My husband and I had lunch at Craft last week.  The first bite of the prosciutto sandwich served in a warm focaccia had my mouth watering. The fresh mozzarella, arugula and tomato with a balsamic glaze was delightful.  Craft is a great addition to the downtown South Miami food choices.

CRAFT  5868 Sunset Drive | 786.674.2599

Hearing From You

Winn Dixie site
WOW! Work on the redevelopment of the Winn Dixie property is going gang-busters.
Great progress is being made, with seemingly little disruption to the surrounding business, with exception to the customers of CasaCuba who used the parking lot.  The new apartment complex will certainly add needed foot traffic in town to support the local businesses.

Jorge B., South Miami

Missing Art Festival
I came to South Miami to visit my family in late October hoping to catch the annual South Miami Art Festival on the first weekend of November.  Much to my chagrin, I learned this popular art show was discontinued a few years ago by the organizers, the local chamber of commerce.  What a shame!  It was a great draw and promoted the area very nicely.
Peter J., Charlotte, NC

Pedestrian Crosswalk Signs
Many communities around South Miami have these “Stop for Pedestrians” signs at crosswalks.
We had them here as well, however, they’ve gone missing in the last several months from what I can see.  While I don’t like to see a proliferation of signs, as a pedestrian and making my way around town, I have found them to be a good reminder to vehicular traffic. 

Arlene D, South Miami

LET’S HEAR FROM YOU

Send your town center favorites photos and comments to the publisher at jes@somimag.com.
We’d love to hear from you.

In & Around

KIDS’ MARKETPLACE
A GRAND SUCCESS

On Saturday, November 4, 2023, South Miami hosted a first Kids’ Marketplace located at The Shops at Sunset Place, featuring over 50 booths with young entrepreneurs engaging with the public from 1 to 4p to introduce their product line.

The idea of a kids’ marketplace originated with two enterprising young girls Olivia and Mariel. Their ventures went from lemonade stand, cotton candy, slime among others.  The stand out product was bath bombs. All of their friends wanted the frizzy balls to relax and give a nice scent to their baths. Soon they started knocking door to door in the neighborhood and realized they were ready for a bigger audience. 

The girls came to their mothers for help, which led the moms to organize the first Key Biscayne Kids’ Marketplace in 2019. Now, with the help of District 7 Commissioner, Raquel Regalado and local sponsors, Kids’ Marketplaces are hosted throughout Miami and for the first time held here in SoMi.

Children create a product or service, develop a brand, design a marketing strategy, and then open for customers at this one-day marketplace. Kids are responsible for setup, sales and interacting with the customer. It is truly a complete hands-on business experience, a great educational tool and it is lots of fun. 

County Commissioner Rachel Regalado and City Commissioner Steve Calle with event organizer Fernanda Torres 
Olivia Almeida and Mariel Ramírez together with their mothers, the organizers Cristina Dalmau and Fernanda Torres.

Emphasis is on the fun part of the marketplace. Organizers  want kids to be kids, to be passionate about what they create and to enjoy the experience. A Kids’ Marketplace aims to motivate young entrepreneurs ages 8 to 16 to understand the value of their ideas and turn them into action. 

A rigorous application to the marketplace, which itself is a learning experience and incorporates the four basic Ps:  Product, Price, Promotion and Place.  The game-like registration has a cost calculator, business questions and also templates for media posts.  The registration process also includes a video or picture to make certain the kids are behind each business. 

The SoMi Kids’ Marketplace hosted some 50 different businesses ideas and more than 100 participants.  Four awards were presented: The Most Original Idea, The Best Sales Individual or Team, The Most Creative Stand and the Most Environmental Friendly Business. 

South Miami city commissioner Steve Calle, a big supporter of entrepreneurship, has been a key player in helping local businesses get involved and connecting with local schools so that the South Miami community truly benefits from this event. 

The organizers are grateful that 5 years later their daughters, Olivia and Mariel still participate in the Kids’ Marketplaces; and believe that for them to be busy in a positive activity at 16 and 17 years old is one of our biggest rewards. The organizers want Miami to be known as a young entrepreneurship hub.

One of the several young entrepreneurs visited with was Maki.  Her mom Carolina, noted that “Maki is a creative spirit. She paints, sings, acts and role plays to her imagination’s delight. She started painting her T-shirts, the apartment windows and all she could get her hands on since she was 2. She started her neon paint phase when we decided to have a neon party and buy neon paint as a fun activity to do during the pandemic and it stuck with her. She loves playing loud music and using the black light to get inspired as she paints. She also started adding inspirational messages to her work to uplift others so phrases such as ‘Ignite the fire inside you’, ‘Go with the flow, ‘The world is your puzzle’ and ‘Don’t give up’ are usually found in her art. “
LEAD FEATURE

Thomas Heatherwick To Bring Humanizing Design to the Shops at Sunset Place

Donna Shelley

Thomas Heatherwick

Thomas Heatherwick will be working with Midtown Development to design a completely new space for what is currently The Shops at Sunset Place, South Miami’s town center mall. Heatherwick is a British designer who has very definite beliefs about modern architecture’s role in the urban landscape and its impact on human beings.  In his new book Humanize, A Maker’s Guide to Designing Our Cities, the author explains his design aesthetic as one that is opposed to the dictatorial tenets he attributes to the modernist architect, Le Corbusier. Heatherwick states that Le Corbusier’s architectural adherents continue to create buildings that are too boring, too flat, too plain, too straight, too shiny, too monotonous, too anonymous, too serious, and finally, harmful to the human spirit. 

From Riviera Theatre to the Shops at Sunset Place

Plots of land in Florida often experience a number of lives and the location of Sunset Place is no different. In the early days of South Miami, the downtown was a series of two and three-story buildings used for shops, restaurants, and housing. Brothers Robert and Harold Dorn built a trio of buildings from 1925 to 1926 at the corner of what is now Sunset Drive and US 1. The buildings still stand and are among the city’s historic architectural gems. The brothers also built the Riviera Theatre at the northeast corner of SW 58TH Avenue, just south of Red Road. Opening September 4, 1926, the 1000-seat theater was doomed to failure by the hurricane that struck the Miami area from September 18-21, 1926, and the resulting economic downturn. 

Antoni Gaudí’s Casa Mila (La Pedrera) served as an inspiration for Heatherwick

In October 1934, Fuchs Bakery relocated from Homestead to South Miami and was built on an enlarged site that included the Riviera property. After decades of enjoying the aroma of baking bread in the city’s downtown, Fuchs moved its operation to Medley, Florida in the early 1980s. The bakery buildings were razed and replaced by the Bakery Centre, a retail, hotel and office complex, which eventually failed.  In 1994. the Resolution Trust agency sold the parcel for $11.2 million, and was demolished in 1996. In 1999, the 10-acre Shops at Sunset opened. In 2014 the mall housed Miami’s only GameTime location.  Splitsville Luxury Lanes & Dinner Lounge was added in 2008. The largest tenant (about 92,000 square feet) is a 24-screen cinema operated by AMC Entertainment. 

In October 2015, Simon Property Group sold the mall to Federal Realty Investment Trust, Grass River Property, and Comras Company. After a series of attempts to revitalize the ailing mall, the property was sold at a major loss for the sellers to Midtown Opportunities for $65.5m on December 31, 2020.

Something New on the Horizon

With a change in city administration came a mayor and commissioners who made the redevelopment of Sunset Place and the revitalization of our business district in South Miami a major focus of their election campaigns and administration. Needed zoning changes were made with the goal of transitioning from a moribund regional mall to a neighborhood with shops, residences, and open spaces.

“We set out to change the canvas of this twice failed project, moving away from a regional mall toward a neighborhood that becomes an integral and cohesive part of the South Miami community,” said Richard Perez, executive director of Midtown Development.

In April 2019, the South Miami City Commission unanimously approved a redevelopment plan. The goal of the plan is to reduce retail, expand office space, build residential apartments, and a hotel, and add more parking to the existing garage. Retail spaces will be designed to face outward as a way of communicating with the street. This will be a welcome change from the somewhat insular nature of the current mall with inward-facing shop entrances arranged around the central courtyard. Instead of encouraging gathering spaces inside, the new design will focus on the outdoors to encourage a greater sense of community.

Humanizing the Old Sunset Mall Site

In his book Humanize, Thomas Heatherwick begins his treatise on architecture with the two strongest influences from his life experiences on the way to becoming a world-renowned designer, not an architect, of buildings and public spaces. They were the inventive and unorthodox architecture of Antoni Gaudí (1852 to 1926) and craftmanship, especially of those objects wrought by hand, in which Heatherwick was trained. Heatherwick writes of Gaudí’s Casa Milà apartment building as “an unashamed festival of curves” that “undulate,” dance in space, and almost breathe.  He believes that the human eye is most comfortable with the right combination of repetition and complexity and that this combination is essential to the proper aesthetic “tension” in architecture. 

Heatherwick writes about the number of people who pass by a building in a given time as one that is much larger than those who work in or use the inside of said building.  The exterior of the building will affect everyone who passes by and contribute to how they feel. To him, the “blandemic” of those straight, shiny, monotonous, and boring modernist buildings contribute to humanity’s stress, sickness, loneliness, and fear, as well as aiding division, war, and the climate crisis. The latter refers to the size of a building’s carbon footprint in the construction, maintenance, and destruction of the building when it is eventually torn down to replace it with yet another boring/unhealthy building.

The Humanize rule states that “a building should be able to hold your attention for the time it takes to pass by it.” For Heatherwick, this is all about what is happening at the street level, from the initial approach to the building to the clearly marked and celebrated entrance, to the way it relates to human beings. In praise of architectural norms from earlier periods that exist side by side in established neighborhoods, he writes that these settings are, “palaces built for ordinary people.”

“The New Heart of South Miami”

At a recent City Commission meeting the designer presented his preliminary ideas for the Sunset Place project. First and foremost, the plan will be to create or return, the downtown to a walkable neighborhood with sufficient vehicle connectivity.  The City of South Miami has long needed a Town Square or Town “Green” that many other cities enjoy. Once accomplished, this should return foot traffic to the businesses in the town center. Heatherwick is concerned with designing residential real estate with great views, amenities, and an identity. All of this will contribute to his belief in humanizing architecture. The designer is also aware of the negative aspects that have an impact on South Miami’s business core, the noisy and “unfriendly” US 1, the current mall’s lack of engagement with Red Road (a main thoroughfare), and the fact that the mall ignores the surrounding street grid altogether while having fake “streets” inside the mall.

The mall’s second-floor retail arrangement does not drive customers to it. In short, Sunset Place does not feel like a real place, nor is it a real piece of the city. 

Thomas Heatherwick Studio

What does the future hold for the design of the “New Heart of South Miami?” Designs by the Thomas Heatherwick Studio could provide some clues. 

Broad Marsh, Nottingham, UK is a 20-acre regeneration plan for Nottingham’s city center that includes saving and repurposing the partially demolished shell of a 1970s shopping mall. The aim is to reduce the waste and carbon emissions associated with new construction. The site will accommodate a wide range of uses for the community and a large green space.
Castellana 69, Madrid, Spain is an office building designed to reduce carbon and consumption with a mixed timber structure. The goal of the design is for the building to produce more energy than it consumes.
Coal Drops Yard, London, UK is an award-winning design adapting mid-Victorian industrial buildings to create a new public space and retail destination in a historic site. The site will be flexible and allow for change of use over time as trends and markets evolve. 

For More Information: heatherwick.com

In & Around

NEW POLICE CHIEF SWORN IN 

On Monday, November 13, 2023, dual ceremonies were held in South Miami at the Area Stage Company black box theatre at Sunset Place: The Annual State of the City presented by Mayor Javier Fernandez and the Swearing-In of South Miami’s new police chief, Reo Hatfield III by city manager Genaro “Chip” Iglesias.

Mayor Fernandez spoke of the many exciting developments in the city: the redevelopment of the Winn-Dixie site, the prospect of significant development on the Sunset Place site, and the potential redevelopment of the city hall campus.  He acknowledged the work of the commission members in addressing the elderly, entrepreneurship, homeless, and parks, respectively being addressed by Vice Mayor Lisa Bonich, Comm. Steve Calle, Comm. Brian Corey and long-term Commissioner Josh Liebman.  He commended the collegiality in working together to advance the agenda for the residents and business owners in South Miami.

City manager “Chip” Iglesias administers the oath of office to Reo Hatfield

Fulfilling a personal long-term goal to serve as a police chief in south Florida, Chief of Police Reo Hatfield comes to the city of South Miami with over 26 years’ experience with the Virginia Beach Police Department where he served as Deputy Chief of the Administrative Division since 1997. Additionally, he served in a variety of assignments including the support division, the investigative division, community policing.  Hatfield was Commanding Officer of Special Investigations Bureau, Commanding Officer of the Third Precinct, Community Policing Commander, Tactical Commander, Executive Aide to the Police Chief, and SWAT Team Leader. 

Upon Chief Rene Landa’s announced retirement, a national search was conducted.  Forty-five individuals submitted their credentials.  The list was narrowed down to three, with the offer being given to Hatfield.  Virginia Beach’s police department has 1000 officers.  In South Miami, Hatfield will oversee 50 officers.

Photos by AllStarPhotography.com

18 year-old Reo Hatfield IV proudly pins the chief’s badge on his dad’s chest.

Chief Hatfield holds a master’s degree in public administration from Troy University, a bachelor’s degree in criminology from Saint Leo University, and a Graduate Certificate in Criminal Justice from the University of Virginia. Additionally, he is a graduate of the 263rd Session of the FBI National Academy,

Senior Management Institute for Police (PERF), Department of Homeland Security Leadership Academy, United States Naval War College-Command & Staff, and the Joint Forces Staff College – Joint & Combined Warfighting School. 

For twenty years has been a commanding officer in the Naval Criminal Investigations Service of the U.S. Navy Reserve and also served as corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1992 to 1996. His combined Marine Corps and Navy Reserve military service includes three combat tours in the three separate theaters of operation.

The chief is a perfect natural on his Fuji bicycle seen at the 40th annual Parade of the Elves and speaks to his personal commitment to community policing and being out there and present to the city’s residents and visitors.
Business Profile

Meet ChamberSOUTH’s New Executive Director, Melissa Cancio

Donna Shelley

ChamberSOUTH has a new Executive Director, Melissa Cancio. Upbeat and engaging, Melissa said that she is looking forward to “connecting people” in the community through her new position with the Chamber.  

“The Chamber is a town meeting place where friends can bond and exchange ideas. My role is to make relationships happen,” said Melissa.

Born and raised in Miami, Melissa’s educational background has done much to prepare her to tackle the demands of the Chamber. She holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations, applied communications, and advertising from Florida International University. She earned a master’s in business administration from North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, about an hour away from Chicago. 

Melissa Cancio with incoming chairman Juan Hidalgo, CPA (left), and past chair Bill Duquette, CEO, South Miami Hospital (right).

Melissa has been involved in successful fundraising events, raising over $100,000 for the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.  She was appointed to Omicron Delta Kappa’s Board of Trustees for three years. According to the University of Miami, Omicron Delta Kappa is one of the oldest and most prestigious honor societies at the University of Miami recognizing outstanding members of the University community.  

The new Director’s earlier experience with the Chamber was as a volunteer and as one of the first Chamber Next Young Professionals group in 2019. 

Melissa knows a lot about how the Chamber operated from her time as a volunteer. As the new Director, her vision for the organization’s future can be summed up in one word, “retention.” What the Chamber plans to do to attract new members and what it is doing to keep them. 

Word of mouth is one way to attract new businesses and business owners to the Chamber. Melissa passionately believes there is much more she and the Board can do together to attract and retain members. Proactive measures include planning and holding “sold out” events and an annual gala, increasing the Chamber’s revenue stream, increasing Board involvement as volunteers, speakers, etc., working closely with elected officials, and rebranding the organization.   

“I believe it is important to surround yourself with those who make you better at what you do. They are a support system,” said Melissa.

Chamber members and business leaders gather at Beauty & The Butcher restaurant for a welcoming reception for the new chamber president.

ChamberSOUTH is a leading small business champion dedicated to advancing economic development and prosperity throughout South Miami, Pinecrest, Kendall, Cutler Bay, and Palmetto Bay. With a membership comprising diverse businesses and professionals, ChamberSOUTH provides advocacy, resources, and networking opportunities to support the growth and success of its members and the community. The link between our quality of life and a thriving business community is undeniable.

FMI about ChamberSOUTH, visit www.linkedin.com/chambersouth. Media Contact: Melissa Cancio, Executive Director at (305)-725-1900. 

THE UNDERLINE UPDATE

On September 12th, The Underline reached a major milestone: ground was broken to begin construction on the final 7+ mile segment of The Underline, spanning from SW 19th Ave to Dadeland South Metrorail Station.  The organization also hosted eight public meetings to engage the community in the designing process of the park. 

As founder Meg Daly would exclaim: “Can you believe it? In less than a decade, together, we have created one of the fastest moving projects of its scope in the country.” 

As The Underline expands south, we’re stitching together more neighborhoods and communities. With 19 amenity areas planned throughout the 10 miles, The Underline is bringing health and wellness, community, safety and mobility, and art and tech to our urban green corridor.

THE UNDERLINE UPDATE
What's Cookin

La Terrazza Takes Rooftop Dining to the Next Level 

By Peter B. Laird 

Perched atop the swank 1515 Sunset Building in SOMI’s Town Center, La Terrazza Bar & Grill has reopened for the season. And executive chef Danny Gayem, who also helms the kitchen at Fiola Miami next door, is taking rooftop dining to the next level. 

La Terrazza’s stylish rooftop space boasts panoramic views of South Miami and Coral Gables and is a popular spot for toasting South Florida’s ultra-colorful sunsets. The spacious restaurant and lounge accommodates 80 people seated and 150 standing with multiple seating areas, according to restaurant representatives, and also features a state-of-the-art retractable roof, a sound system and a full-service bar.  

The venue opens its doors at 5:30 p.m. and Sunset Hour specials are offered on Thursdays and Fridays from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., when guests can enjoy live music and specially priced drinks complemented by a variety of tasty bar bites.  

Ganem, a Miami native who previously was executive chef at The Betsy on South Beach and Little Palm Island in the Florida Keys, has created a special rooftop menu for La Terrazza. Sushi and starters include a tempting Yellowfin Spicy Tuna Roll with kimchi, kewpie mayonnaise, cucumber and avocado; Wagyu beef & Foie Gras Sliders with truffle aioli and French fries; and Grilled Spanish Octopus with Tiny Farms arugula and preserved lemon, to name a few. 

Canary Island Branzino
Yellowfin Spicy Tuna Roll

A charcoal grill at La Terrazza sizzles with fresh seafood, steaks and chops, which guests may want to pair with sides such as Creamed Spinach, Broccolini, Mashed Potatoes or Tuscan Fries. Desserts include Copetta, Caramel Budino, Basque Cheesecake and Grand Chocolate Cake. 

Representatives of La Terrazza say the restaurant will be hosting a series of collaborative dinners and special events throughout the season. And for those who are interested, La Terrazza offers a perk-filled membership that includes complimentary valet parking for both Fiola Miami and La Terrazza; member’s only seating; priority seating during peak times at both restaurants, and more. 

SOMI Wellness

Three el HappyBreath Techniques: Nose/Nose, Mouth/Mouth, Nose/Mouth

Roberto Suarez

Introduction

The foundation of el HappyBreath and the whole practice of breath awareness is a simple exercise called the 20-Happy Connected Breath Technique.

Just 30 seconds of breathing consciously brings fresh life energy into the mind and body. This is the way it is practiced:

  1. Stand, Sit or Lie down in a comfortable position.
  2. Close your eyes and relax your body.
  3. Take four short breaths in and out of your nose, mouth or nose/mouth..
  4. At the end of each group of short breaths, take one big breath.
  5. Repeat steps 3-4 four times without stopping.

The purpose of the short breaths is to emphasize the connection and merging of the inhale and the exhale into continuous circles.

The purpose of the long breaths is to fill the space you can find on the inhale and let go completely on the exhale.

Three 20-HappyBreath Techniques: Nose/Nose, Mouth/Mouth, Nose/Mouth

The 20-HappyBreath technique can be done with three different breathing patterns: nose/nose, mouth/mouth, and nose/mouth. Each technique has its own unique benefits and can be used for different purposes.

Nose/Nose Breathing

Nose/nose breathing is the most calming of the three 20-HappyBreath techniques. It is a good technique to use when you feel stressed or anxious.

Mouth/Mouth Breathing

Mouth/mouth breathing is the most energizing of the three 20-HappyBreath techniques. It is a good technique to use when you feel tired or sluggish.

Nose/Mouth Breathing

Nose/mouth breathing is a combination of nose/nose breathing and mouth/mouth breathing. It is a good technique to use when you want to balance your energy levels and improve your mood.

How to Use the 20-HappyBreath Techniques

To use the 20-HappyBreath techniques, simply choose one of the three techniques and follow the steps above. You can choose to do the technique in one round of 30 seconds or in multiple rounds of 30 seconds.

If you are new to the 20-HappyBreath techniques, start with one round of 30 seconds and gradually increase the number of rounds as you become more comfortable.

Conclusion

The 20-HappyBreath techniques are simple yet effective breathing techniques that can be used to boost your mood, energy levels, and overall well-being. By practicing the 20-HappyBreath techniques regularly, you can experience a number of benefits, including reduced stress, improved focus, and better sleep quality.

Next Article we will cover Spiritual Breathing.

Arts in SOMI

THE WIRTZ GALLERY is named in honor of the Wirtz family patriarch Arthur M. Wirtz of Chicago. Wirtz made his fortune in real estate and liquor distribution; he created the business in 1922. The Wirtz Corp. also owns the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team and co-owns the United Center arena— where the Blackhawks and the Chicago Bulls play. When the gallery opened, it was reportedly the first bank in the United States to have a registered gallery within the institution.

SOMI’S SINGULAR
ART GALLERY

Located in the lobby of UNITED COMMUNITY BANK (formerly First National Bank of South Miami), each month The Wirtz Gallery exhibits local and international artists.

Gallery hours are Monday – Thursday, 9a-4p; Friday, 9a-6p. Artist receptions are generally held on the second Friday of the month from 6-8p and are open to the public.

The bank is located at 5750 Sunset Drive, South Miami.

For the month of December, the gallery hosts an artistic group of apes – literally!

On occasion of the 30th Anniversary of rescuing and rehabilitating orangutans and chimpanzees, The Center for Great Apes presents works exhibited at The Wirtz Gallery being one of the many celebratory events.

The Center for Great Apes is a sanctuary for orangutans and chimpanzees in need, providing a safe and enriching environment for apes who have been rescued from laboratory research, the entertainment industry, and the commercial pet trade. Founder and director of the center Patti Ragan notes: “We are thrilled to be celebrating our 30th anniversary. Over the years, we have witnessed the transformation of so many great apes who have come to our facility in dire need of care and rehabilitation.  There’s a story behind every one of these great apes and it’s our hope the portraits and paintings tell the story of the hard work, humanity and hope.”

Playing with Cahaya by Keagan
Running with Friends by Pumpkin Pink
Self Portrait by Jacob

In January, the gallery hosts the stunning black-and-white photography of Marilyn Brown.

The exhibit “A Celebration of Natural Florida” is captured in her photographs. Brown captures and preserves environmental and historic images of Florida’s most breathtaking places.

Her art has a commitment to the care and protection of the natural environment. “Our Everglades, coastal shorelines, sunrises, and dramatic skies are all unique to Florida. “I want to preserve these sights so that others can enjoy the beauty, awe and inspiration that I see and increase awareness of Florida’s fragile and embattled environment.”

Brown has been in many exhibits and won awards. In 2020 she won First Place in Photography at the Coconut Grove Art Festival.

Into The Storm
Boca Chita

The amazing art of mixed media artist Max Lazega is showcased in the month of February.

His art is composed of recycled parts that he finds and removes from discarded computers and construction hardware.  Some of the pieces light up with battery powered LED lights, with some pieces finished with an epoxy resin.  Max also composes some of his work with construction nails.  You may have suspected Max’s background is in construction and electronics.

Unnamed
Heading for the trades on the outside

CAN A FELLOW BE A VILLAIN ALL HIS LIFE?

South Miami’s Area Stage Company returns to the Adriene Arsht Center for Oliver, February 8 to 25, 2024.  

The production of a new epic staging of Lionel Bart’s classic musical based on the Charles Dickens novel, Oliver Twist is presented by the critically acclaimed, award-winning team behind the immersive productions of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid.  The Tony and Olivier Award-winning show is one of the few musicals to win an Academy Award for Best Picture and is widely hailed as a true theatrical masterpiece by actors and audience members alike.

The streets of Victorian England come to life as Oliver, a malnourished orphan in a workhouse, becomes the neglected apprentice of an undertaker. Oliver escapes to London and finds acceptance amongst a group of petty thieves and pickpockets led by the elderly Fagin. When Oliver is captured for a theft that he did not commit, the benevolent victim, Mr. Brownlow takes him in. Fearing the safety of his hideout, Fagin employs the sinister Bill Sikes and the sympathetic Nancy to kidnap him back, threatening Oliver’s chances of discovering the true love of a family.

Tickets may be ordered at Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County – Adrienne Arsht Center | Oliver!

WHAT’S NEW IN TOWN
Matteo Muzzolon, Rosa Cioffi, Luca Eberle, Alesandro Manzo 

On Sunday, November 12th, a new restaurant had its Grand Opening where Town Kitchen + Bar had served guests for some seventeen years.  Enter VERACE CUCINA ITALIANA.  When Town’s new owner acquired the restaurant over a year ago, being from Verona, Italy, he was keen on opening an Italian restaurant.  The young, energetic, and affable Matteo Muzzolon decided to offer South Miami a new experience – living and loving the Italian Amalfi coast vibe.  With new investors and a lead hospitality team of Italian nationals, six weeks were spent in renovating and creating a new lounge and dining experience in SOMI.  

VERACE means “true” “authentic”.  Matteo assembled a team of hospitality professionals, the chef from Napoli, general manager from Ferrara, and staff from Florence, Rome, Pompei among other locations to create a true Italian experience.  Family recipes passed down for generations are incorporated into the menu.

Verace’s carefully curated menu, from the antipasti to delectable desserts, is a testament to Italy’s rich culinary heritage, prepared with the freshest ingredients and a touch of flair.

Come enjoy a culinary journey that blends the familiar with the unexpected.  VERACE Cucina Italiana is open seven days a week.

Gnocchi Sorrentina
Spaghetti Vongole

7301 SW 57th Court | 305.740. 8118 

Our walk takes us to the other side of town to the historic Dorn building location at US1 and Sunset, for a sit-down with Jahn Kirchoff.

Deli Lane
And Now there are three

Deli Lane, SOMI’s iconic casual eatery and entertainment hub has just grown, with the founding partners bringing on a new business partner to propel the brand for the next several decades.

Jahn Kirchoff and Mike Mailer have been at the helm of this SOMI favorite since August 1988. With the advent of outdoor dining in the 90s and the picturesque, paved brick and tree canopied Dorn Avenue, Deli Lane has been a memorable location for four decades.  In December 2000 they acquired Your Father’s Moustache (remember?) and opened Sunset Tavern in January 2001. 

“Interior renovations and constant upgrades from the patio to the inside have always been important to us,” notes Jahn.

“However, it is time to take a fresh new look, and bring in a younger team member.”  That choice came down to Michael Altman, a long-time and much-regarded chef in the Maimi area.  Mike was executive chef at Town Kitchen Bar for many years, prior to the pandemic.  Altman came on board on November 3rd.  He is developing a dinner menu which is anticipated to be launched in mid-January.  Customer service is paramount. After the Covid-19 changes, Deli Lane/Sunset Tavern are now back to full tableside service, which is critical for an evening dining program.

The trio brings 120 years of combined hospitality experience to the SOMI icon, and we look forward to the changes as our town center undergoes its own dynamic changes.

7230 SW 59th Avenue | 786.674.2599

Walking down Sunset to head to the Red Road area, you can’t help but notice the fabulous artifacts in the windows of DAVID’S BEEN HERE located at 5832 Sunset Drive.

Meet South Miami local David Hoffmann, an eclectic bohemian adventurer – and gourmand. He started his David’s Been Here in 2008 fresh out of college, with the vision of bringing his passion for traveling the world into a full-time occupation – and he’s been in 110 countries so far.  David’s Been Here is a digital media company meant to supply travel inspiration, reliable first-hand information, and entertainment.

To date, he’s hosted over 2,000 travel episodes that dive deep into the culture, history, and cuisine of thousands of unique destinations around the world.  And check out his hot sauce, a delicious combination of sweet pineapple, spicy Kashmiri chili, and tropical guava in every drop.   Visit the store and online at davidsbeenhere.com.

5822 Sunset Drive | davidsbeenhere.com

After traveling around the world with David, it’s now time for a sweet treat at a new destination spot on Red Road.

Churros, a Latin American favorite has taken on a new “heavenly” appearance at SOMI’s newest confectionary spot, Santo Dulce! on Red Road across from Sunset Place.  The creative handcrafted presentation incorporating a halo over the ice cream was born in 2018.

Alonsso, Diana and Maria welcome you to enjoy their special delights.

 In South Florida they first started in Wynwood and have a presence in the Doral Yard.  With two mobile units, Santo Dulce! is being seen and enjoyed making its way around Miami.  They opened in SOMI on October 5th with their first “bricks and mortar” location.  

Santo Dulce! offers a menu of ice cream flavors, coffees, shakes and more.

Key Lime Mini Halos
Santa Crema Nutella & Almonds

Catering is also provided. Santo Dulce! Is open seven days, from 2-9p.  Come by and try the “Santo Sundae!”

6907 Red Road | 786.858.4242  | www.santodulcechurros.com

Staying on the “Gables side” of our town center, we happened upon the Montauk Lobster House former site of Gringo’s Oyster Bar. This new SOMI restaurant is one of three locations established by founder and owner Diego Flores.  His restaurants in Long Island’s Montauk and Sag Habor are popular destination restaurants.

Diego Flores, the founder and owner, started his journey in the hospitality industry as a bar back, bus boy, server, and even donned a toque. With an unwavering passion for flavor, he believes in offering an experience where every customer feels like they’ve discovered their go-to spot.

Diego invites SOMI readers to come for the lobster, stay for the atmosphere, and become a part of our story at Montauk Lobster House.

We expect to take a longer and tastier visit.  Look forward to reading more about Montauk Lobster House in an upcoming issue of SOMIonline.

In this walkabout, three new fitness enterprises had opened: first on Sunset in Pulse Fitness, a Pilates studio at 5864 Sunset Drive, offering 50-minute classes which are high intensity and low impact.  The second is Sweat 440 a franchise location on 73 Street on the ground street level of the Municipal Parking Garage.  You can never be late again for a work-out session, as they start every ten minutes.  Go Sweat….

And we just happened on the third, when visiting at M’italia and Root and Bone.  It’s in this neat architectural building on US1 & 73 Street – CROW Jiu-Jitsu Academy.  Crow has not recently opened; in fact, founder Rodrigo Crespo opened his studio in January 2023.  It’s new to us here at SOMIonline, and thought our readers would be interested in learning more about this person’s passion and commitment.

Rodrigo is a Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt under the legendary Renzo Gracie HQ in New York.  He started his career in Jiu-Jitsu in 1991 at the original Carlson Gracie Academy in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro.  Jiu-Jitsu became his passion since day one being born and raised in Rio and surrounded by friends who train the “Gentle Art” ”It was more than a hobby, it was and is lifestyle that brings you so many benefits in life like self-confidence, discipline, making new friends and much more.

Like the 10x World Champion Surfer, Kelly Slater used to say: ‘Put your kids in Jiu-Jitsu before any other sports.’”

At the academy, students will develop their physical, emotional, social and cognitive skills. by having an understanding of and ability to apply the martial arts, students will also develop their self-defense capability.

5958 South Dixie Hwy | 305.206.1303 | https://www.crowjiujitsu.com/

SOMI PUBLISHER HONORED IN ITALY

John Edward Smith’s name is inscribed in the book of the Knights of the Land of Asti and Monferrato.

To learn more, read the exclusive article published in Community Newspapers, South Miami News.

I AM
MANY
THINGS
In This Issue
In This Issue

Content Sponsors

PUBLISHED BY // JES comm, LLC
JOHN EDWARD SMITH COMMUNICATIONS © 2023-24
Published four times annually online at www.somimag.com
PUBLISHER // CREATIVE DIRECTOR // John Edward Smith
SENIOR ART DIRECTOR // Jose Roque – DesignWorks Miami, Inc. //
WEB DESIGN // Six Foot 3

Contributing Writers & Article Resources
Yvette Cotera, Mercedes Cruz, Meg Daly, Arturo Fahrenkrog, Donna Shelley,
Mark Schrieber, Martin Seals. Roberto Suarez.

For more information, please contact the publisher: JES comm, LLC • Postal Box 431597
Miami, FL 33243-1597 • VM 305.665.2838 Email: jes@somimag.com

“John Edward” Smith
Creative Director & Publisher

SPRING INTO SOMI

Getting a little older by the day, I had to put a hard hat on when “springing into SoMi!” I seem to be losing that “spring”!

Actually, the hard hat was for a tour of the new construction in town. Having covered the proposed redevelopment for the Winn-Dixie site for the last decade, I met up with the developer’s project manager on site for a construction tour and a café Cubano across the street to chat it up. Our lead feature this issue covers some of the background of the project and what will be open to the public next fall 2025. (Check out somimag.com for archived stories about the redevelopment.)

It’s hard to believe it’s been four years since COVID-19 sidelined our businesses (for the most part). We didn’t have people congregating on our streets, restaurants, or shops. It was great to see crowds take to the street for the Rotary Art Festival, now branded as “SOMI Art Fest” – and great job with that! Another crowd pleaser was the return of the Porsche car show.

FROM THE PUBLISHER

The event started in South Miami ten years ago, and it was certainly great to see its return and the activation of the moribund Sunset Place.

In this issue, you’ll read about The Unity Wall. For the past couple of years volunteers have been coming out to paint the wall in the South Miami residential area. The wall is located at 62 Avenue & 64 Street and was a racial dividing line reflecting the Jim Crow segregation times. The dedication was held during February’s Black History month, and thanks to all the volunteers who made it happen.

SOMI Magazine has been a media sponsor of The Underline since its inception, and we’re delighted to report on the Phase Three developments which will bring The Underline here to South Miami. This project is so transformative and to be enjoyed for years to come.

In this issue, catch up on What’s New in Town. As publisher, one of the things I enjoy most is going around to meet our new business owners and telling our readers about all that’s happening around town. Their commitment to building our retail core is much appreciated.

And last, but certainly not least: congratulations to newly installed SMPD Assistant Chief Larry P. Corbin. Read about his rise through the ranks in the 37 years he has been with the department. Over the years I have had the opportunity to work with him on planning and executing many of the special events which have made South Miami such a unique, family-friendly destination. His close-cut flat top, kind demeanor and understanding smile has been a constant over these many years. Congratulations sir.

Blessings as we celebrate our traditional Springtime holidays.

TOWN CENTER
FAVORITES

Momma Mia Meatballs
Sergio P., Coral Gables
A real treat at the new Italisn restaurant in town are their meatball specialty which I understand is a family recipe from nonna (grandmother) in Verona.  I’ve enjoyed them with a glass of Super Tuscan wine for a late afternoon after work treat.
Verace Cucina Italiana | 7301 SW 57 Court | 305.740.8118

Avocado Toast at its best
Maria D., High Pines
When it comes to avocado toast, in my opinion, no place serves up a better dish than at Cecile’s on Sunset Drive.  I’ve tried many different cafes throughout the area, and by far this is the best. And it is served was a fresh crisp salad. A wonderful meal.
Cecile Bakery + Café |  5744 Sunset Drive  |  305.397.8206

Hearing From You

I thoroughly enjoyed the recent art festival which was held on Sunset Drive.  I’ve attended over the years, so I noticed the new name “SOMI ART FEST” and the upbeat marketing and promotional signage throughout.  A highlight is always sitting to enjoy some great “festival food” and listening to the live entertainment.
Jorge B., South Miami

How about writing an article about the construction at the Winn-Dixie site starting as early as 3:30 am somedays, 5:30 am on a Saturday in a residential area?   This is in violation of city codes, and must be granted unreasonable and frequent exemptions by the city management.
Shelia D., South Miami

‘Great to see the Porsche show coming back to South Miami.  I enjoyed the first few years when the Das Renn Treffen was held on Sunset Drive and the surrounding streets, and has missed it in the past couple of years.  The Sunset Place venue was awesome; it certainly made that dead space come alive! 
Arlene D, South Miami

LET’S HEAR FROM YOU

Send your town center favorites photos and comments to the publisher at jes@somimag.com.
We’d love to hear from you.

On Friday, January 26, 2024, members of the south Florida law enforcement community descended on the South Miami City Commission Chambers for the swearing in of Larry P. Corbin as Assistant Chief for the department.

Mayor Javier Fernandez
City Manager Genare “Chip” Iglesias
Chief Reo Hatfield, III
In and Around

Larry Corbin has spent his entire law enforcement career serving the City of South Miami.  In 1987 he was sworn in as a police officer by then chief Perry Turner   Over the years he rose through the ranks, being promoted to Sergeant in 2000, and in 2009 as Lieutenant overseeing the Criminal Investigation Division.  In 2014 he was promoted to Captain assigned to the Operations Bureau, overseeing both the Patrol and Criminal Investigations Divisions.  During his tenure he has received several accolades for heroism, officer of the month, leadership, and is a recipient of the agency’s Silver Medal of Valor. 

The promotion ceremony invocation was given by SMPD Chaplain Bishop Joshua Caley of the Higher Praise & Worship Center, with opening remarks by city officials and keynote remarks by former chief Perry Turner who had sworn in Corbin in 1987.  

Chief Hatfield, former Chief Perry Turner and
Asst. Chief Larry P Corbin
Family members posing with the new Asst. Chief after pinning stars on his collar.
Lead Feature
Winn Dixie demolition: photo taken July 24, 2023
Construction site cleared: photo taken August 15, 2023
Groundbreaking ceremony: September 22, 2023 (Photo credit: Osiris Ramirez)

Avalon Bay Development

It’s been nearly six months since the official September ground-breaking for the Avalon Bay Community’s South Miami mixed use development on the site of the former Winn Dixie.

For the better part of the last decade discussions were taking place considering the fate of the Winn-Dixie store and what would happen on the 1.86 acre site in our town center.

In the throes of a global pandemic, on June 2, 2020 the South Miami City Commission unanimously approved a bold vision, which when realized will transform 73rd Street and usher in new life for our restaurant and retail district.

It’s been nearly six months since the official September ground-breaking for the Avalon Bay Community’s South Miami mixed use development on the site of the former Winn Dixie.

SOMI Publisher with Mark Schrieber, Senior Director, Development, AvalonBay Communities

For the better part of the last decade discussions were taking place considering the fate of the Winn-Dixie store and what would happen on the 1.86 acre site in our town center.

In the throes of a global pandemic, on June 2, 2020 the South Miami City Commission unanimously approved a bold vision, which when realized will transform 73rd Street and usher in new life for our restaurant and retail district.

SOMI magazine has extensively covered the proposed redevelopment over these many years, and with six months into the construction, met up with Mark Schrieber, Senior Director, Development for AvalonBay Communities.

AvalonBay Communities, Inc., an equity REIT, has a long-term track record of developing, redeveloping, acquiring, and managing distinctive apartment homes in some of the best U.S. markets.

Lead Feature

With the September groundbreaking, It was nearly three years after purchasing a 1.86-acre parcel for $18.95 million, that the developers started construction on Avalon South Miami.

PROJECT BACKGROUND HIGHLIGHTS: The original owner, prior to AvalonBay’s acquisition, went through eight iterations of the project in response to community input and the desires of the city commission. The firm of Corwill Architects was brought in to address the developer’s and community’s needs in articulating the project. During the pandemic months, the City Commission conducted its business remotely via the ZOOM platform. Land use attorney Jeff Bass, who has represented the developer for some nine years in relation to this project noted that in all, there were a total of eight public hearings, beginning on May 14, 2019.

The public realm improvements include terraced setbacks which activate the street and crafting space to accommodate a pedestrian realm.

Architect Albert Cordoves noted that the design “brings the pedestrian realm experience to the next level, activating 80% of the perimeter at ground level.” The “H” design of the massing of the building also enhances the pedestrian experience; the design articulates and breaks up the massing of the building creating beautiful open amenity areas and visuals. Central to the experience is the urbanistic designed central courtyard on 73 Street with its landscape and Artscape. Connectivity and pedestrian realm are of paramount importance in the design. Town homes facing 74th Street also add to the pedestrian experience.

And the next six months? People have commented on how fast and minimally disruptive the construction has been. In discussing this with Mark Schrieber, he noted that given the extremely favorable weather conditions since starting construction, the project is about two week ahead of schedule. Cement truck deliveries are for the most part off-peak hours.

Trucks are pouring on both the west and east sides of the site. Schrieber expects the building will top off end of summer, and then provide a full year for interior finishes, with delivery by Fall of 2025.

THE FINISHED PRODUCT. The 10-story Avalon South Miami will comprise 290 apartments, ranging from studio to three-bedroom lease units. Residents will enjoy various on-site amenities, including a private dining room, fitness center, lounge, pet spa, and co-working space. Two-story town houses are situated along 74th Street.

The residential offerings are just one part of the mixed-use venture. The complex’s bottom floor will host a 27,000-square-foot Fresh Market grocery store. The remaining 4,000 square feet will provide for restaurant and retail space. With reimagined streetscapes and a shaded civic plaza, the project aims to create a dynamic live-work-play environment.

The AvalonBay Communities philosophy is simply stated: “We believe that elevating where you live is all about blending it seamlessly with how you live. We go to great lengths designing amenities and choosing locations that put everything within reach. Where you live, is where you come alive. In an area filled with convenience, recreation, and possibility,”

As noted, the local firm Corwil Architects designed the community, and First Florida is the general contractor. Of note, First Florida is a Miami-based company and had offices in the South Miami area for many years, was active in the south Miami Rotary Club, and you will find their name on a Dorn Avenue brick on our popular “hometown” demonstration project of the 1990x. – JohnEdward Smith

SOMI Magazine has published several articles about this redevelopment project. To read what’s been published, go to www.somimag. com Archives and search for Winn Dixie Redevelopment.

In and Around
Michelle Readon speaks at the dedication with Elder Josephine Anderson in attendance
Organizing Committee “United Survivors”: Dale Andrews, Gail Alexander, Dr. Anna Price, Michelle Readon, Annick Sternberg & Gray Read.
Gail Alexander, Kristi Sellers and Michelle Readon at an earlier community paint day.

The Unity Wall

A wall erected in the 1950s to segregate White and Black residents has taken on a different role. Renamed the “Unity Wall,” this vestige of the City’s separate but equal years will depict the history of South Miami’s traditionally Black neighborhood while celebrating a united city. The Unity Wall was officially dedicated on February 17 at the corner of SW 64th Street and SW 62nd Avenue with a program that included oral histories, reflections about South Miami’s divided past, and a little spontaneous singing to an audience of about 50 people. 

The Unity Wall project is sponsored by United Survivors, a group of South Miami women who through friendship found a way to bridge the City’s racial divides, both seen and unseen. United Survivors includes Michelle Readon, Gray Read, Anna Price, Dale Andree, Annick Sternberg and Gail Alexander Lead artist, Gail Alexander designed the layout for the murals that are currently being painted on the wall. Students, residents, and other interested parties have been volunteering to add large brightly colored tropical leaves along 64th Street, with more to come. Plans envision adding a mural of the 1960s-era business community that once dominated Church Street (SW 59th Place).

Nationally recognized Black artist Gene Tinnie joins organizer Gail Alexander.
Gail Alexander with Kiara Moss, t6, SMSrHS student and Track & Field medal winner

Speakers included Rev. Dr. Anna Price, the city’s first Black mayor, Michelle Philips Readon, Mildred Mitchell, Elder Josephine Anderson, Deborah Powell, President of South Miami Black Cultural Affairs, Gray Read, Associate Professor, FIU School of Architecture, and Gail Alexander. Other artists involved in the wall project include Docta Toontz, Walter Harris, Tony Butler, Bobby Gibson, Anthony Jackson, and Drew Khani. 

For additional reading please see: “How South Miami transformed a dividing wall from Jim Crow era into a unifying force” by Bea L. Hines.

In and Around
Rev. Dr. Anna Price with SMPD Chief Reo Hatfield
Mom and daughter enjoy a February morning painting the wall
Cathy Wanza with grandsons Malaki and Kyndall pictured in front of peaoock painted by Walter Harris
Arts in SOMI

THE WIRTZ GALLERY is named in honor of the Wirtz family patriarch Arthur M. Wirtz of Chicago. Wirtz made his fortune in real estate and liquor distribution; he created the business in 1922. The Wirtz Corp. also owns the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team and co-owns the United Center arena— where the Blackhawks and the Chicago Bulls play. When the gallery opened, it was reportedly the first bank in the United States to have a registered gallery within the institution.

SOMI’S SINGULAR
ART GALLERY

Located in the lobby of UNITED COMMUNITY BANK (formerly First National Bank of South Miami), each month The Wirtz Gallery exhibits local and international artists.

Gallery hours are Monday – Thursday, 9a-4p; Friday, 9a-6p. Artist receptions are generally held on the second Friday of the month from 6-8p and are open to the public.

The bank is located at 5750 Sunset Drive, South Miami.

During the month of March the gallery showcases a Nature Photography Amateur Expo as presented by Arturo Fahrenkrog Verschueren, a visionary Chilean entrepreneur. 

His ability to capture moments, evoke emotions, and showcase unique perspectives provides a reference for Exploradores Aysen Conservationism in Patagonia, Chile, focused on a dedicated environmentalist and profound commitment to conservation efforts.

Emphasizing the technical skills, artistic flair, and family dedication to delivering stunning visuals for Nature Conservation and Rewilding. Overall, he inspires a new era of entrepreneurial thinking for a long term conservation. Fahrenkrog’s family commitment to pushing boundaries and embracing challenges on conservation marks him as a true trailblazer in the nature world for Chilean Patagonia.In April the Miami Watercolor Society presents its Spring 2024 Exhibition at the Wirtz Gallery as the group celebrates its 50th anniversary.The Miami Watercolor Society is a volunteer-based, non-profit organization whose membership consists of a broad spectrum of water media painters. The culturally diverse society informs and educates members and others in the community by providing workshops, demonstrations, exhibitions and classes. Our mission is to teach and promote watercolor painting.

Arts in SOMI

The mission of the exhibition at the Wirtz Gallery is to provide a point of view in relation to conservancy of the lands and waters on which all life depends.

In April the Miami Watercolor Society presents its Spring 2024 Exhibition at the Wirtz Gallery as the group celebrates its 50th anniversary.

The Miami Watercolor Society is a volunteerbased, non-profit organization whose membership consists of a broad spectrum of water media painters. The culturally diverse society informs and educates members and others in the community by providing workshops, demonstrations, exhibitions and classes. Our mission is to teach and promote watercolor painting.

Arts in SOMI
Community Feature
After his inauguration, the Governor addresses the Boys State delegates

AMERICAN LEGION 2023
FLORIDA BOYS STATE

On December 4, 2023, Boys State Governor Martin Seals addressed the South Miami City Commission.  Seals, a Columbus Ex;lorer senior was elected the 79th Governor of Florida Boys State.  Welcomed to the podium by Mayor Javier Fernandez, himself a Columbus alum (‘93), Seals spoke of his experiences while participating at Boys State.  

Founded in 1935, American Legion Boys State is among the most respected and selective educational programs of government instruction for U.S. high school students. A participatory program in which students become part of the operation of local, county, and state government.  South Miami Post 31 sponsored Christopher Columbus senior Martin Seals, then 17, at the 2023 Boys State held in Tallahassee

 from June 17 – 24.  In his remarks, Seals noted this “premier youth leadership program builds a mock state replica, forming a city, county, and state government. The result is a fully functional, nonpartisan state led by 500 rising seniors. The program’s motto is ‘learning by doing.’  So, students are both elected to a position and play the role of their position.”

The immersive weeklong experience expands the boys knowledge of the political process and leadership abilities in general.  Boys State complements the mock state with education on American government and Florida’s history.  Seals noted that the participants were given the opportunity to listen and interact with inspiring speakers: Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey, House of Representative Cabrera, and Florida’s Secretary of State, Cord Byrd.

Seals proudly states that “Boys State effectively and comprehensively educates and exposes us rising seniors to this unique world. Boys State is a diverse community of leaders. Whether you find networking success or just another friend, the program connects students from the panhandle to the Florida Keys. The participants of this program are some of the most successful boys in the state. I participate in Speech and Debate and many tournament winners happen to be Boys State alumni. They comprise JROTC members, sports team captains, valedictorians, and more. And we are all united under the Boys State maxim: God, Honor, and Country.”

Martin “Seals the Deal” and elected as Governor
Addressing the South Miami City Commission
Community Feature

friend, the program connects students from the panhandle to the Florida Keys. The participants of this program are some of the most successful boys in the state. I participate in Speech and Debate and many tournament winners happen to be Boys State alumni. They comprise JROTC members, sports team captains, valedictorians, and more. And we are all united under the Boys State maxim: God, Honor, and Country.”

Martin has several college acceptances after graduating Columbus and awaiting other offers.  His interests are political science and international affairs and will keep his options open for exploring elected office, a law degree, and the FBI. ADELANTE!

Pictured are: Vice Mayor Lisa Bonich, Comm. Brian Corey, American Legion Post 31 Commander Rudolph Zepeda, Jr., Martin and his mother, Dr. Carter Burrus from CCHS, Comm. Josh Liebman and City Manager Genaro “Chip” Iglesias.

THE UNDERLINE is Miami’s transformative 10-mile linear park, urban trail and public art destination. The Underline will open in phases through 2025.

PHASE ONE is called Brickell Backyard with great amenities for all to enjoy. This northern terminus extends ½ mile, is fully open and celebrated its 3rd anniversary this February. Congrats to all who have made this possible.PHASE TWO spans 2.3 miles from Coral Way to SW 19th Avenue, This expansion links the amenity-rich Brickell Backyard with the historic Roads, Shenandoah, and Silver Bluff neighborhoods in the City of Miami.

PHASE THREE is the remaining 7.36 miles from 19th Avenue to the Metrorail Dadeland South Station, and includes the City of Coral Gables, the University of Miami, the City of South Miami and unincorporated areas of Miami Dade County. A sign announcing the project detail and scope of work is installed at US1 and SW 80 Street at the municipal boundary of the City of South Miami. (Refer to DB#21 – DTPW-01)

The Underline Update

Design-Build services for the Project are required for approximately 7.36 miles of improvements running within or parallel to Miami-Dade County Metrorail’s Right-of-Way (ROW) and sometimes within adjacent municipality ROW ROW that includes separate paved off-street bicycle and pedestrian paths, two pedestrian/bicycle bridges over small waterways/canals, native landscaping, site furniture and equipment, way finding signage, pavement markings, intersection improvements, lighting, drainage, environmental remediation, WI-FI and security infrastructure, and reconfiguration of parking lots.

The total estimated fee for design-build services is $99,379,726 with an estimated completion date of September 16, 2025. To learn more about The Underline, go to: www.theunderline.org.

Your donations are most welcome and appreciated.

BREATHE DEEP, FIND PEACE:
EXPLORING EL HAPPYBREATH

In the midst of life’s constant churn, finding a source of inner calm and peace can feel like a distant dream. But what if there was a simple, accessible practice designed to unlock the door to spiritual well-being? Enter el HappyBreath unique approach to spiritual breathing facilitated by Roberto Suarez, el Happy Coach.

More than just controlled inhalation and exhalation, el HappyBreath holistic journey  merges rhythmic breathing with visualization and affirmations. By consciously engaging your mind, body, and spirit, it aims to cultivate a deep sense of relaxation and spiritual connection.

Here’s how to embark on your el HappyBreath spiritual journey:

SOMI Wellness

1. Find Your Sanctuary: Choose a quiet, comfortable space where you can sit upright with your back straight. Close your eyes gently, taking a moment to settle into your surroundings.

2. Connect with Your Breath: Begin by taking a slow, deep inhale through your nose for a count of four. Feel your belly expand as you breathe in, visualizing a warm white light filling your body and heart with loving energy.

3. Hold and Embrace the Light: Hold your breath for a count of two, allowing the white light to permeate your being and wash away any negativity or tension.

4. Release and Renew: Exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of six, releasing any lingering tension or negativity like leaves falling from a tree. Imagine the negativity leaving your body with each exhale.

5. Repeat and Renew: Repeat steps 2-4 for several minutes, focusing on the rhythm of your breath and the silent affirmations you whisper with each inhale and exhale. These affirmations can be simple and personal, such as “I am calm,” “I am at peace,” or “I am happy and free.”

Remember, el HappyBreath is a journey, not a destination. Be patient with yourself, and don’t be discouraged if your mind wanders during practice. Simply bring your attention back to your breath and continue the cycle. With consistent practice, el HappyBreath can become a powerful tool for managing stress, improving sleep, and fostering a deeper connection to your inner spirit.

In the Next article we will cover Zen Breathing.


We visited a new woman’s shoe boutique as the first stop in our walkabout.  

It’s here we meet long-established retailer Justin Garcia, who recently opened his KOKO + Palenki on Sunset Drive.

PASSION FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE

Having successful retail stores in Cocowalk, Dadeland, Aventura, Merrick Park and Brickell City Center over the years, and moving into wholesale, selling to some fifty shoe stores in the USA, with clients like Nordstrom, Justin decided on one last store and that was to be on Sunset Drive,

What's New In Town
Justin Garcia

which was a fashion mecca back a few years.  His passion for working with the customer brought him to SoMi, and to a location he just wanted to have.Justin started in retail at age seventeen.  He cut his teeth in merchandising and selling men’s clothing.  He opened in Cocowalk in 1992.  He made the shift to women’s shoes and never looked back, doing a successful run at prestigious south Florida retail malls.  For over two decades, KOKO + Palenki has been at the forefront of the fashion industry, curating a unique blend of luxury and contemporary collections that cater to a discerning clientele’s diverse tastes and desires.

His move from retail to wholesale was simple economics.  Having control over design and fabrication, retail rents were getting exorbitant, and he was “tired of working for the landlord.”

His inventory is 70% KOKO + Palenki designed, and includes shoes, sandals, wedges, heels, and flats. Chocolat Blu is another line which is made in China, and Victoria’s Sneakers made in Spain since 1915.  Shoes are all leather creations, the lining, the upper and soles.  More padding in dress shoes for a more comfortable fit.  The price points range from Jelly’s ($79), with all shoes under $200, except for boots. KOKO + Palenki is open Monday to Saturday from 10a – 6p.

5829 Sunset Drive | 786.963.1036 | www.kokopalenki.com

Irene Berl with a tray of assorted sweet treats.

We make a stop a couple of doors down on Sunset to a new “sweet studio.”   

Greeting us is Irene Berl, who has recently opened DBaker here in our town center.

DOUBLE THE FLAVOR, DOUBLE THE FUN

DBaker was founded by Venezuelan twin brothers Giancarlo and Christian Guevara. The twins are passionate about baking since they were kids, and later worked in a French pastry shop. Having moved to Miami, they developed their brand which was in demand at area farmers’ markets, eventually leading to establishing a location in Midtown Miami at 3501 N.E. Second Avenue.

The twins note: “Our gourmet cakes are made with real ingredients and are frosted with our famous Swiss Meringue Buttercream – a recipe passed down through generations.

With flavors that range from classic vanilla to exotic combinations, there’s a cake for everyone’s taste buds.”

The brothers offered fellow Venezuelan Irene Berl, the first opportunity to open a franchise. Irene, by profession is a pediatric dentist, earning her degree in Spain. With the onslaught of COVID, and with an interest in opening her own business, she welcomed the opportunity to be the first franchise, deciding on the location in December 2023. The “sweet studio” just opened on March 1st.

Already Irene can name some of the favorites which clients like, the Nutella, chocolate chip and guava churro.

There are cupcakes, macarons and cookies, Signature cakes and Designer cakes. Coffee and espresso are also served at the store. Specialty cakes can be ordered on line and delivered to the South Miami location.

Baked by twins, “every treat is baked with double the love and double the deliciousness!”

5809 Sunset Drive | 786.737.9449 |  www.dbakers.us

What's New In Town
Chefs Artan and Migena

Crossing across Sunset we find two familiar faces opening their new casual dining enterprise.

ART GYROS MEDITERRANEAN FUSION

Art Gyros Mediterranean Fusion prepares Greek and Albanian food.  Artan Kapxhiu and wife Migena opened their popular Forno Italiano Pizzeria across on the east side of Sunset seven years ago.  They are now serving breakfast, lunch and dinner at Art Gyros, located at the United Community bank courtyard.

Open from 7a to 10p, customers will enjoy a complete breakfast, lunch and dinner menu which include Greek gyros, salads, main courses of lamb, turkey, beef and Albania specialties.  Homemade soups and desserts are also on the menu.

5750 Sunset Drive | 305.967.8643 | Order online through DoorDash

Albanian Meze (cornbread, prosciutto, feta and
lemon/olive mix.)

Rounding the corner at Sunset Drive and Red Road, we come upon PROESĒNS MEDSPA. 

NEW MED SPA

Recently opened, Proesēns Medspa offers a comprehensive range of services tailored to enhance a client’s natural beauty, promote wellness, and boost confidence. From advanced skincare treatments like injectables (such as Botox and Dysport) to cutting-edge laser hair removal and vein vascular removal, Proesens Medspa provides the latest in non-invasive procedures to address a client’s aesthetic concerns.

In addition to their signature services, Proesens introduced a weight loss program, designed to support the client toward a healthier, happier lifestyle.  The expert team guides the client through personalized strategies and techniques to achieve wellness goals effectively and sustainably.

The luxurious spa invites you to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and immerse yourself in a world of tranquility and rejuvenation.

7222 SW 57th Avenue | 786.650.0001 | www.proesensmedspa.com 

What's New In Town

Heading over to the Municipal Parking Garage – a new high energy juice bar has opened.

The Spruce Juice located on the street level of the garage facing 73rd Street offers a delightful menu of cold-pressed juices, acai bowls, shots, and smoothies.  Some of the “top on the list” suggestions are the Watermelon Refresh Juice, the Acai Berry Bowl, the Green Machine Smoothie, and the Spicy Ginger Shot.

5829 Southwest 73rd Street . Open seven days at 8:00a.

The Spruce Juice delivery in the South Miami area with Uber Eats.


Moving from the garage and pass the Avalon South Miami construction we’re heading to US 1, and the SoMi Center building.  (Read about the new development in the latest SOMIonline magazine,(www.somimag.com)

It’s here we enjoy a quick pan-Asian lunch at Sriracha House.

Sriracha House was founded in 2014 out of the love husband-and-wife owners Emilio Benzadon and Jessica Knopf share for Southeast Asian street food, They first opened the original location in South Beach along Washington Avenue. After a decade in business serving South Beach and, most recently, the Shoma Bazaar food hall in Doral, the fast-casual, pan-Asian eatery has opened its second brick-and-mortar location in South Miami along US 1 at 5966 South Dixie Hwy, Open daily from 11a to midnight.

Back on our main street there are two new businesses getting ready to open.

Mimas Home Decor is coming into 5805 Sunset Drive and Tiger Sugar tea house is opening across the street at 5828.

Mimas Home Décor enjoys a great reputation for enhancing the details of entertaining with their placemats and décor which elevates your at home celebrations.  Each piece is thoughtfully designed to make your decor memorable. Each element is a celebration of love and family with the true manifested in subtleties.

Tiger Sugar appreciates its humble beginnings in Taichung, Taiwan in 2017.  It has now grown into the “undisputed cult brand of Boba worldwide.”  Their Tiger Sugar drinks tell their unique story with the “tiger stripes” infused into all the drinks with unique hand-poured syrups. Tiger Sugar now joins two other “tea houses” on Sunset Drive just within a block of each other.  Time for a SOMI TEA PARTY!  

What's New In Town