In the 1980s, he made a real estate move that would make him famous, buying 18 rundown properties in New York’s South of Houston neighborhood — now SoHo, the trendy residential loft district. Goldman saw the historic cast-iron façades through the layers of grime and decay and understood that some day, New Yorkers would pay top dollar to live there.
“He came in when it was a dump,” said Marvin Shanken, a golfing buddy and head of the Manhattan company that publishes Wine Spectator and Cigar Aficionado magazines. “He revived it with restaurants, and a jazz club and so forth. He brought vitality to an area where people basically were afraid to walk at night.”
Flush with cash, Goldman came to a similar conclusion about Miami Beach during a visit in 1985. He had already invested in Coconut Grove, and began buying one Art Deco property a month for 18 months along Ocean Drive.
“I was looking for an alternative to New York. The buying there is too tough,” Goldman said. “As soon as I turned the corner at Fifth Street and Ocean Drive, that was it. I surrendered.”
Goldman’s biggest challenge came in Miami’s scruffy warehouse district, Wynwood. As prices rose, Goldman and son Joey began buying properties in the neighborhood, which was attracting artists but remained deserted and forbidding at night.
The Goldmans opened the first full-service restaurant there in 2009 — an upscale pizzeria called Joey’s — and unveiled a permanent art installation called “Wynwood Walls,” three sprawling courtyards decorated by some of the country’s top graffiti artists.
“That is Tony’s masterpiece,” said Marlo Courtney, managing director at Goldman Properties. “It’s our graffiti park, open for the world to see.”
Excerpted from The Miami Herald, Sept. 13, 2012.