Stephen Bittel’s Terranova Brings Accessible Art to Miami Beach with Lumas Art LeasingSeptember 20, 2021
When you think of Miami, there are typically three things that immediately come to mind: the beach, the nightlife, and the art scene. The city has developed a strong connection to the art world over the past couple decades, in particular the Miami Beach area which hosts the eminent Art Basel. Roughly 80,000 people visit the coastal city each year to view and collect everything from the old masters to emerging artists, but talent by local painters and global talents alike can be found amongst the galleries of Miami Beach well beyond that weekend.
As the city has become electrified by the culture that comes with the presence of art, there has come with it a desire by many to introduce it into their own homes. However, for art enthusiasts who have outgrown industrial mass-production but lack the links to a nearly mystified world of elite art circles, it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to beginning a collection. This is the basis upon which Lumas Art was founded. By producing editions with a slightly higher print run, they have found a way to make limited and authentic photo art affordable.
In addition to an online marketplace, Lumas Art has galleries located all over the world, from Melbourne to Paris and most recently, Miami Beach. Terranova Corporation, one of southern Florida’s top commercial real estate firms, recently announced the completion of a lease deal for a 3,625 square-foot space in the popular Lincoln Road shopping district. Founder and chairman of the company Stephen Bittel said of the announcement:
“As part of our commitment to the City of Miami Beach, we are pleased to welcome Lumas Art, which is consistent with the missions of Terranova, the Lincoln Road Business Improvement District, and the City of Miami Beach to bring more arts and culture-oriented businesses to Lincoln Road.”
The art scene comes to Miami
While today Miami may have a strong art culture, that hasn’t always been the case. Just a few decades ago the city hardly had any museums, let alone galleries or major art shows. Besides the Lowe Art Museum on the campus of the University of Miami, one would have to travel to Fort Lauderdale or Palm Beach in order to get to the next major museum. However, this started to change in the 1990’s, with the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) being established in 1994, the Miami Art Museum in 1996, and Florida International University opening the Frost Museum in 2008. Additionally, private collectors began to open their collections to visitors, creating more places to go and see art, and Miami’s Latin roots saw many well-heeled Latin American individuals moving to the city and fueling the growth in commercial galleries selling Latin American art.
However, the biggest impetus came in 2002, when Miami Beach started hosting Art Basel. The Swiss art fair, commonly considered the most prestigious in the world, came to Miami when a group of influential collectors convinced the directors that the city had the unique ability to draw wealth and talent from Latin America, Europe and the United States. The event completely changed the landscape of the art world in Miami, encouraging more artists to live and work in the city and starting an explosion of growth as demand for gallery space increased. Today, Miami Beach has become an international hub for the art world, fulfilling the promise of unifying its diverse cultures toward the singular purpose of art.
Lumas Art makes art collecting accessible
Unarguably one of Miami’s top annual events, the energy generated by Art Basel each year can be an electrifying one as it has increasingly grown to become a destination-wide festival of satellite art exhibits, celebrity parties, restaurant events, art auctions and fashion shows that attract people from across the globe. However, for the many people who are not entrenched within the art market there can be a sense of inaccessibility that is more disheartening than inspiring. Traditional gallerists tend to offer large-format, one-off pieces or limited editions of three to five prints, causing an increase in prices to the point that it only attracts experienced collectors, institutions and museums. The argument made for this is that the demand only necessitates small quantities, making artworks simultaneously rare but also more expensive as a result.
Lumas Art is challenging this norm, allowing those who wish to start collecting art but lack a large disposable income to develop a collector’s mindset. Offering prints by greats such as Helmut Newton, Man Ray, Gavin Evans or Will McBride as well as from rising newcomers in hand-signed, mostly limited editions from 75 to 150 prints, LUMAS catered to the demands of an increasingly international target group.
Terranova Corporation’s commitment to culture
For Stephen Bittel, Lumas Art is the perfect addition to Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road properties. Bittel founded Terranova Corporation in 1980, and initially grew its portfolio by capitalizing on shopping centers and strip malls in the municipalities of Miami-Dade county. Families at the time were seeking the larger properties at cheaper prices available in suburbia, and at its peak Terranova was operating over 100 open-air shopping centers. However, at the turn of the century Bittel identified that a shift in attitude was beginning to occur. Young home-buyers were no longer interested in what the suburbs had to offer, preferring the accessibility and culture offered by city centers to the sprawling nature of the further municipalities.
As a native of Miami, Bittel’s passion for the city saw him happy to see an opportunity to revitalize cities such as Coral Gables and Miami Beach, whose proximity to Miami proper and downtown walkable cores made them prime locations for urban retail centers. In 2011, Terranova closed on a landmark three-building deal on Lincoln Road for a total purchase price of $52 million, coming out to approximately $850 per square foot. At the time, this was seen as an outrageous price, but just three short years later in 2014 Terranova made history as part of one of the largest property sales in the history of southern Florida, selling the property for an astounding $342 million.
Although Terranova did sell their initial purchase, they have remained active in other Lincoln Road properties and Bittel has consistently reaffirmed his commitment to bringing new activity and investment to the area. Although the coronavirus pandemic was a difficult time for retail businesses and restaurants, Bittel was committed to finding creative solutions to keep Lincoln Road alive and thriving, staying flexible on lease terms and working to bring in short-term leases for pop-ups during the holiday season.
Lincoln Road represents the best of what Miami Beach can be: a cultural destination for residents and tourists alike. By bringing Lumas Art to the urban retail center, Bittel and Terranova have opened the doors for many to enter the world of art collecting. Miami has quickly grown to host one of the biggest art scenes in the world, and an increased accessibility to art is perfectly in line with the city’s rich history of diversity.