Before the first pitch was ever thrown at the new Marlins ballpark, Miami City Commissioner Frank Carollo made a pitch of his own: creating an entertainment district in the city-owned parking garages that flank the stadium.
Months later, the All-Star break has come and gone. But the commercial spaces in the garages remain empty.
City building managers say several leases are in the works, including a deal with an 8,500-square-foot Irish pub called The Tilted Kilt that prides itself on its scantily clad women servers.
“There is definitely some positive momentum,” said Henry Torre, director of public facilities.
The city is pinning its hopes on The Tilted Kilt, which is eyeing a corner spot in the Home Plate garage.
The Celtic-themed chain has more than 30 locations, including one in Phoenix across from the U.S. Airways Center basketball arena.
Its shtick: buxom female servers in tiny kilts and tartan bra tops.
Torre, Miami’s public facilities director, said other potential tenants were waiting to see who would be the first to sign.
“This is an anchor tenant a lot of people would be excited about,” he said.
Said Noriega: “Our hope is that we are going to, at a minimum, have five or six tenants leased and occupied by the start of the next baseball season” in April.
Jose Casanova Jr., a former city planner who specializes in Little Havana, admitted the plan may be a tough sell in a sagging economy.
“At the present time, it is going to be difficult,” he said. “The stadium is relatively isolated. It’s not connected to commercial activity in Little Havana.”
But he believes an entertainment district could be successful over time.
“In the last five years, especially on Calle Ocho between 12th and 17th avenues, we’ve seen higher-income clientele coming into the area than we have before,” he said. “If they do the right thing with promotions and incentives, a project like this could be attractive.”
For now, the storefronts remain empty.
Aguirre believes the garages will end up attracting an urgent care clinic or an immigration attorney because there is a market for those services in the neighborhood.
“The whole thing was done badly,” he said. “But now that it’s done, let’s figure out how to make it work.”