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Old Customs Warehouse Becomes Hub for Downtown Art Scene

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A 1924 US Customs Warehouse that once served as a storage facility for confiscated goods during Prohibition (bathtub gin anyone?) has been transformed into a central hub for artist galleries and special events in Downtown. Wedged between a tangle of highway ramps and the Metrorail tracks, McCormick Place opened on September 7th, 2012 and is the brainchild of Sean McCormick, whose father purchased the property in 1970.

As curator, McCormick is hoping to create a space that houses diverse works ranging from visual and performing arts to music and fashion. "If you look at the natural progression of what's going on for the city, Downtown is where it's coming to. Everybody's coming back over the bridge again [from Miami Beach] for nightlife and for artful stimulation. And now they've come and hit places like Midtown and Wynwood and the Design District, and Downtown is just becoming an overflow position for all of that."

Far from just an "overflow position" to Wynwood et al. downtown is emerging in the Miami art scene as artists and galleries spread out from that rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. The renovated McCormick Place, now home to the monthly "First Friday" DWNTWN ART WALK, is comprised of 11 resident artist studios, a series of second-floor studios for rent at $300 a pop, a 3,400 square-foot indoor gallery space, and over 25,000 square-feet of outdoor event space. The building's exterior features some pretty funky black-and-white murals, including a geometric entry piece by bold local artist Stephen Gamson and a swooping "portrait of Miami" (pink flamingo and all) by students of the nearby Miami International University of Art and Design. Adhering to the color-scheme, resident artist Eleazar Delgado created a unique rooftop sculpture that serves as a beacon for those driving past on I-95. (or just a really cool piece to Instagram)
—Margina Demmer
· McCormick Place [Official]