9 Miami Men Changing the Culture of the Magic City

By Katie Jackson | October 1, 2018 | People Feature Culture Feature

Pioneering developers and restaurateurs. The mastermind behind #LIVonSunday and the guy who made Kygo an EDM superstar. Meet the men who are responsible for solidifying the Magic City's status as one of the coolest destinations in the world.

Ugo Colombo, Founder, CMC Group

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Bristol Tower, Santa Maria and the Epic Hotel & Residences are just a few of Ugo Colombo’s contributions to the Miami skyline. The Italian businessman, who also owns The Collection and races sports cars “every once in a while” in his spare time, was the first developer to bring luxury residences to the mainland. With acute precision and a love for the finer things, Colombo ensures that each project is nothing short of spectacular. “Being Italian, I have the ability to source materials in Italy, and I think it delivers a higher quality.” Now, Colombo is focusing on building Brickell Flatiron, a lavish 64-story condo tower in the heart of Brickell. “People want to live where they work,” says Colombo. “Brickell Flatiron captures that lifestyle, where you can take an elevator and walk to a variety of shops, restaurants and offices. It’s the Manhattan lifestyle in Miami.”

Pallava Goenka, Regional Managing Director, Specialty Restaurants Corporation; Founder, Miami Is Not Plastic Campaign

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Pallava Goenka wants you to know two things: Plastic doesn’t belong in the ocean, and yes, you can pair red wine with a filet of white fish. When he’s not overseeing dining destination Rusty Pelican or sipping on an Australian sparkling shiraz, Goenka is fighting to clean up our environment and oceans, starting with straws. “Single-use disposable plastic is clogging our ocean and destroying the marine life,” says Goenka. “We have completely eliminated plastic straws, to-go utensils and bags at Rusty Pelican,” he says. His next move? Getting the rest of Miami to join the movement because change “must start with individuals and businesses.”

Jason Odio, Restaurateur

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Sure, Miami is synonymous with nightclubs, but recently the 305 has taken on a new vibe thanks to Jason Odio. “I felt there was a void when my friends and I didn’t want to rage at a huge club anymore,” he says. “I wanted to create a place for us. And I also didn’t want to be drinking cheap promoter vodka past age 30.” In 2014, he introduced us to Sidebar. And then Ariete and Baby Jane in 2016. Strobe lights and vodka cranberries weren’t “in” anymore. Instead, ice cream Thursdays at Sidebar and pink cocktails with matching flamingo-patterned walls at Baby Jane (that will kick your bathroom selfie game up a major notch) were the new cool. In fact, they’ve inspired a millennial generation to Instagram their entire night out to remember it because, as Odio puts it, “the most epic nights are the blurriest.”

Franklin Sirmans, Director, Pérez Art Museum Miami

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“Does it make you think of something or someone differently? Does it show you something you never imagined?” These are questions PAMM Director Franklin Sirmans asks himself every day at work. The curator’s love affair with art began in high school, while he worked for artist Ed Clark in New York. Using a push broom as his tool of choice, Clark created “beautiful abstract pieces,” says Sirmans. “The fact that art could be made with janitorial tools was conceptually amazing. He’s in PAMM’s collection.” Much like Clark’s tool, Sirmans’ goal is simple: to inspire Miamians to innovate, create and dream. “Our challenge is to spread the gospel of art and culture in a place where the conversation is still young.”

Myles Shear, Talent Manager

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Kygo is the fastest artist to reach 1 billion streams on Spotify—and Myles Shear, his 25-year-old manager, made that happen. “I fell in love with EDM after the first time I went to Ultra in high school,” Shear says. He started DJing at local parties before heading to Full Sail University, where he co-founded the popular blog EDM Sauce. “I created a really great network and thought, ‘I should use this.’” After hearing Kygo on SoundCloud, Shear messaged him on Facebook and the rest is history. Five years later, Kygo is a household name and Shear is a bona fide entrepreneur. Next up, Shear is expanding his Palm Tree Crew, a line of golden palm necklaces already worn by his inner circle (The Weeknd, Shawn Mendes, Ariana Grande). “If you’re wearing PTC, you’re part of our family,” he says.

Mike Gardner, Founder & CEO, Headliner Market Group

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You know LIV on Sunday—the weekly party with high-wattage performances and an ultra VIP crowd. But you might not be familiar with Mike Gardner, a UM basketball player turned marketing genius who launched Headliner Market Group in 2001. Gardner’s #LIVonSunday has hosted mega celebrations (and celebs) such as the Heat Championship party and DJ Khaled’s birthday bash. But behind all the glitz and glam of the Miami nightclub scene, Gardner is just a guy who wants to make a difference in the community. In 2013, he founded the Overtown Music & Arts Festival, a free event that focuses on “creating a feeling of family through R&B, gospel and jazz talent,” says Gardner. “The festival brings thousands of people together who would otherwise not come. And most importantly, it changes the negative perception that many might have of Overtown.”

Craig Robins, President & CEO, DACRA

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The Miami Design District is only the Miami Design District because Craig Robins saw huge potential in 25 previously underused acres smack in the middle of Miami. He had a vision. “I began my career by acquiring properties on South Beach and bringing that neighborhood back to life,” says Robins. “A number of the fundamental principles were the same for the Design District—both had storied pasts, interesting architecture and the opportunity to juxtapose something contemporary with the historic.” Throughout the past two decades, Robins has created a wonderland of fashion, art and design. “The Miami Design District is a place where you can be inspired,” he says.

Hakan Baykam, President, Istituto Marangoni Miami

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“Miami is one of the most dynamic and culturally enriched cities in the world, and the Istituto Marangoni has all the elements to make it the next fashion hub,” says IMM President Hakan Baykam. Aside from a hands on curriculum that has proven successful at the original location in Milan, Baykam is also giving students access to industry leaders (Esteban Cortazar, Eva Hughes and Silvia Tcherassi sit on the advisory board; CFDA President Steven Kolb was the first speaker in an ongoing In Conversation series). But Baykam has goals beyond the geographic borders of this city. “Miami’s accessibility to Latin America played a major role in my decision to bring IMM here. Latin America’s fashion market is bigger than the Middle East and is growing as fast as Asia,” he says. “I’m working on an incubator to invest in young, emergent Latin designers and students.”

Chip Bowers, President of Business Operations, Miami Marlins

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Formerly the chief marketing officer for the Golden State Warriors, Chip Bowers has arrived in Miami with a mission: make baseball cool. His first step is to turn Marlins Park into a destination “not only to watch baseball games, but to have an experience,” he says. A place where you might grab a drink with friends, while a live sporting event plays out in the background. “We’re reshaping our 2019 weekend programming to focus on having a party at El Parque.” Each day will have a different theme: Fridays are Little Havana Nights, Saturdays are Park Before Dark (think festive music and fireworks). “We’ll also be redesigning our most premium space in the ballpark, the Dex Diamond Club,” says Bowers. “We want our fans to enjoy the luxury experience of South Florida, with a refreshed interior design and a vibe that is unique to Miami.”

UGO COLOMBO PHOTO COURTESY OF CMC GROUP; PALLAVA GOENKA PHOTO BY INFINITE LOOP; JASON ODIO PHOTO BY CHARLIE GARCIA; FRANKLIN SIRMANS, MYLES SHEAR, MIKE GARDNER & CHIP BOWERS PHOTOS BY YESI FLORES; CRAIG ROBINS PHOTO BY FELIPE CUEVAS; HAKAN BAYKAN PHOTO BY MARCO CRAIG

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