MIAMI — The part of Miami where Mera and Donald Rubell put their museum and home was a dangerous, ramshackle section of abandoned warehouses and rundown residences, with buildings still scarred by the 1980 race riots and streets that even the police were wary of entering.
The Rubells hit Miami 19 years ago. Today, their Wynwood neighborhood is ablaze with color, with murals, art galleries, cafes and top-shelf eateries luring hipsters and big spenders alike. The Rubells’ family museum — housed in a former Drug Enforcement Agency warehouse where the cocaine, cash and Kalashnikovs that spelled Miami Vice were once stored — was a major catalyst of the makeover.
The part of Washington where Mera and Donald Rubell intend to put their second contemporary art museum and a new residential-retail complex was a dangerous, ramshackle area where 1960s urban renewal had left a strange jumble of industrial buildings, public housing projects and apartments cut off from the rest of the city by an elevated highway.