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Miami’s 125th anniversary: Developer shares vision for Flagler District

MIAMI – Miami’s 125th anniversary comes with a real estate developer’s futuristic vision of the Flagler District.

Julia Tuttle, a businesswoman from Cleveland, paved the way for Henry Flagler to extend his Florida East Coast Railway. He opened a hotel on 12th Street, now known as Flagler Street. The city was officially incorporated in 1896 with just over 300 residents.

Fast forward 125 years, there are over 450,000 residents and Miami is the bilingual capital of the southern hemisphere. The Flagler District lost its luster and that is where Moishe Mana, a billionaire with a vision, found potential.

“Miami has a lot to offer and it’s up to us to make it happen and together with so many people that we’re putting we’re organizing and we’re connecting I think we can, you know, we can really make this vision happen,” said Mana, a real estate developer.

He wants to turn the former central shopping district into the “coolest neighborhood” — not just in Miami but in the world. He said he wants to build something sustainable and impactful.

“It will become the economic engine of the western hemisphere,” said Mana, who also owns the Mana Wynwood Convention Center and was behind the naked statue of Donald Trump.

Only an immigrant like him can understand Miami. Mana was born in Israel and started making his visions happen in the City of Dreams. The New York Times traced the beginning of his “rags to riches” story to having to sleep on park benches and working as a dishwasher.

Mana saved, bought a van, and started a moving company that is now known as Moishes Moving Systems. He also owns GRM Information Management, a global digital storage company.

We must build the digital infrastructure of Latin America for Miami, and this is why I came to Flagler, and I started working on it,” Mana said.

The art collector has a series of historic photos of Miami in his office. The renderings of the modern neighborhood that will turn the city into a global hub are the foundation of an intricate plan. He has already invested about $500 million in real estate properties in the Flagler District. The Nikola Tesla innovation hub is already under construction and it is designed to attract tech companies and other entrepreneurs.

“I have invested hundreds of millions, if not billions already in this idea, and I’m going after it with conviction,” Mana said, adding ”I hope to succeed, and might not. it’s always a possibility, but at least I did my best ... come in five or six years and you’ll see a different neighborhood. I promise.”

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About the Authors:

Gio Insignares joined the Local 10 News team in May 2021 as an anchor and reporter. He’ll be co-anchoring the new WSFL Morning Newscast, Monday-Friday from 7-9 a.m., and also contribute to other WPLG newscasts.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.