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Where do you go in Miami when you're looking for artful places, astoundingly lovely furnishings, exotic antique collections, exciting fabric, floor coverings and wonderful restaurants tucked away in magical gardens? The Miami Art and Design District, "one square mile of style" was once a sleepy little place known in the twenties as Buena Vista Village, which developed from a pineapple plantation from the turn of the century.Today, two hundred and sixty shops and design showrooms alongside 21 art galleries and two theaters abound in this unique and interesting spot.

Around the perimeter of "the square mile" are great little homes which are presently being purchased by young artistic pioneers looking for new/old places to live and work. One of South Beach's most prestigious real estate companies, DACRA, has purchased several architecturally significant buildings in the districts and is refurbishing them with loft space for artists and more shops and showrooms. And as it happened in South Beach in the '80s, the Design District is being reborn in this unique, tree lined area.

At number 35 N.E. 40th Street is a delightful complex owned by Mary Klein, with a nifty little restaurant in the center, Picadilly Gardens. Browsers of the District invariably stop for lunch, dinner or a sunset drink in the garden filled with gorgeous tropical plants, flowers and fountains looked after by Mary herself.

One of DACRA'S pride and joy purchases, the MOORE Building,on 40th Street, just a few blocks up from Mary 's restaurant. lt was originally built in l921 and was then called the MOORE FURNITURE BUILDING. It has been extensively renovated, is four stories high and offers 120,000 square feet of space to special design, arts and antique related buisnesses. Corinthian columns surround a four story atrium . A skylight and a grand staircase detail this splendid edifice

Sprinkled in and around in and around the district are working artists; some live and work in lofts and some maintain studios. One artist, Shirley Henderson, has a studio on the ground floor of Picadilly Gardens Complex. Her work can be found in permanent collections of Florida Museums. While her pre-TV era court portraits have become collector's items, Shirley now concentrates on her paintings. In the same complex Gudren Napp, president of the Water Colorists Society of Miami has an atelier where she paints on silk and canvas. On nearby N.E. Second Ave, the nationally renowned sculptor Ross Power has a huge studio where he creates his large environmental metal sculptures.

Just around the corner is DASH, (short for Design and Architecture Senior High), the blue-ribbon public high-school for talented young artists who are pursuing careers in fashion design, architecture, interior, graphic computer design and industrial design. The building was converted from a gallery and offers a real head start for students interested in entering the design field.

This lovely part of Miami should be experienced to really enjoy it fully. On your next trip to South Florida, put the Arts and Design District on your agenda. And if you are considering a move to a Miami location for your business, be sure to check out the affordable real estate available there.

How to get there: From Miami, take I-95 to 195, east towards the beach. Take the first exit at Biscayne Blvd. Go straight at the light, then go right. From Miami Beach, take 195 west, (the Julia Tuttle Causeway). Exit at Biscayne Blvd. Go straight at the light.