Temporary Spaces Go Fast As Art Basel Miami Beach Nears
By Yudislaidy Fernandez
With South Florida’s biggest art show approaching, local and international artists are temporarily leasing spaces in the urban core to showcase their work.
In its ninth edition, Art Basel Miami Beach, the leading art show in the US, is to present 250 art galleries from 29 nations in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia. This Dec. 2-5 mega event draws artists to present and hopefully sell their art pieces.
To accommodate these exhibitors and promote Art Basel, Tony Cho leases art gallery spaces, event warehouses and studios to artists and art-related companies from around the world who come to showcase artwork and products.
Mr. Cho, owner and founder of Wynwood-based Metro 1 Properties, said he’s been leasing these spaces as part of Art Basel’s countywide celebration since he started his companies five years ago.
Like pop-up stores that retailers use to expose consumers to a new product or concept, Mr. Cho said these temporary spaces allow artists to try out the Miami market, as some rent spaces during Art Basel and later decide to permanently open a gallery here.
"I think it’s a really good way for people from around the world to get to test the market and test the neighborhood in advance of making a decision," he said. "Many end up being tenants in the long term. It’s more of a promotional program that we do for the art districts, landlords and clients."
The commercial realty typically rents 15 to 25 spaces spread through neighborhoods such as the Design District, Wynwood Arts District, Upper East Side and the MiMo District.
The gallery and warehouses spaces range from 1,500 square feet, Mr. Cho noted, to as big as 50,000 and even 100,000.
Most tenants lease 2,500 to 10,000 square feet, with fewer requiring in excess of 25,000.
The term of the leases ranges from as short as a day to a month or the entire season, he said, with most from mid-November through December.
Rental rates vary depending on the size and condition of the space, Mr. Cho said, adding that "a lot of it is not done on traditional price per square footage, as it’s subjective to the landlords."
But Mr. Cho says space is much tighter this year, as neighborhoods like Wynwood and Midtown, with a high concentration of these urban spaces, have been renting them out to new businesses in the area.
"For the most part, there aren’t that many vacancies," he said. "We had much more activity last year. We have a tremendous amount of interest, just less spaces to showcase."
Some spaces are available for short-term leases all year around through the realty firm’s urban space leasing program that caters to tenants looking for a temporary home, such as production companies filming commercials and TV shows.
But early December is when they get the most attention, Mr. Cho said, because artists and companies want them during Art Basel.
In a softer commercial market, the short-term rentals allow landlords to promote their spaces while profiting from one of Miami-Dade’s biggest events, as more than 40,000 patrons travel here for the show.
Mr. Cho said it’s a win-win: "We get tenants from around the world who want to showcase art, products or services," he said, "and generate some revenues for the landlords at the same time."