September 27, 2011
Miami’s Hip Larry Land Quarter Thrives on Art Deco Fever: A. Craig Copetas
The monarch of Larry Land has survived malls, condos and the rise and fall of Florida‘s plastic pink-flamingo population.
When others lost their heads to the whims of greater Miami’s $230 billion real-estate industry, 79-year-old Larry Mizrach, president of Mizrach Realty Associates, so resolutely kept his focus on Art Deco and other historic design properties that locals decided to rechristen the city’s blossoming Wynwood quarter in his name.
Mizrach arrived in Wynwood in 1944, a 12-year-old New Yorker whose family drove south to open a clothing factory under the Miami sun. The $1,972 Art Deco Series 62 Cadillac Club Coupe was the tropical car of choice then, and Al Capone was living in a 6,103-square-foot Mediterranean Revival mansion on Palm Island that cost the mob boss $40,000.
Life magazine dubbed neighboring Miami Beach “Babylon U.S.A.,” with snapshots of showgirls hopping the Miami Biltmore Special train down from Broadway for “chance meetings with thick-walleted gentlemen,” who in 1947 poured $220 million into the local economy.
“Nabisco, Coca-Cola, RC Cola, all of the big postwar companies played on the Beach and rushed across the rail tracks to Wynwood to build factories and warehouses in the architectural style of the day,” Mizrach recalls on a stroll through the former Puerto Rican slum that decades of Miami boom times had left alienated and anonymous.