Ashley Melisse Abess is a native Miami girl. Next year her family will celebrate 100 years living in Florida. Ashley moved away for ten years before rediscovering her city. She is now a Miami leader, who believes in the importance of urban-infill development in the process of attracting young talent to Miami.
While I spent 12 years living in NYC, I grew up in Miami. Next year my family will celebrate 100 years living in the city. I never expected to move back home, but after over a decade away I found that so many things I had felt were missing in Miami were emerging in a way that excited me and I wanted to be a part of.
Growing up, the common complaint was “There’s nothing to do in Miami.” During the time that I was away, there was a strong emergence of significant and meaningful cultural programming. This was something that made me feel like I could return. When I came back, I found that while the city had changed, the notion of there being “nothing to do” persisted. In response to this I co-founded INFRACULTURE, a centralized cultural calendar for the city. By consolidating and promoting Miami’s best programming and exhibitions, we aim to showcase how much Miami truly does have to offer, as well as make the information easily accessible to anyone online. I’ve seen significant evolution in this space, and feel honored to be a part of it.
WHAT IS THE MOST PRESSING ISSUE TO SOLVE ON YOUR LIST? WHY?
One thing I believe is imperative to our city’s success, particularly when it comes to attracting young talent in all arenas to Miami, is urban-infill development that places an emphasis on mid-market housing that young professionals can afford. We can’t attract the businesses and individuals that this city wants and needs if our developers only focus on the poles of the market — luxury or government-subsidized. It’s impossible to keep and/or recruit and retain talent if there isn’t appropriate housing stock available for those individuals and families.
HOW CAN WE SOLVE IT?
In addition to my role with INFRACULTURE and several other ventures, I act as the creative director on a large adaptive-reuse, urban-infill project my husband is leading in Little River. A large part of the project will be the exact type of housing I mention above. While it’s certainly going to take some time, we are striving to create an environment in Little River that bucks Miami’s dominant housing model. We are striving to create a model that doesn’t rely on a luxury condo buyer or government incentives, but rather that creates housing that fits the budget of the average working professional, within a neighborhood with services people use day-to-day. One of our goals is to demonstrate the viability of this approach to development in the hopes that others will then address this need as well.