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Lottery winner plans to breathe new life into historic neighborhood that time forgot

Sep 15, 2019, 10:25 am

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After the Big WinAfter the Big Win: Lottery winner plans to breathe new life into historic neighborhood that time forgotRating:

Fort Lauderdale is a long way from Memphis.

But lottery winner-turned-developer Miguel Pilgram, 50, wants to bring a little Memphis Blues to Fort Lauderdale's historic Sistrunk Boulevard.

And that's not all.

His three-phase plan — representing a total investment of $19 million — would transform the area like never before, establishing a performing-arts hub meant to revitalize a neighborhood that time forgot.

Pilgram, a dynamic entrepreneur who spent his childhood in Memphis, has already spent $2.2 million on his NYSW Jazz Lounge in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

Now, the father of two wants to renovate a 1940s building at 1448 Sistrunk Blvd., where blues artists had crowds flocking to the Night Owl lounge.

The place closed 25 years ago or so, leaving behind a sad silence.

For a quarter of a century, nothing has come along to replace the Night Owl — until now.

"My parents used to go there," said Vice Mayor Robert McKinzie, whose district includes the Sistrunk neighborhood. "We had other blues clubs but that was the last one. This is what this community has been waiting for for 30 something years. His project will spur economic development and create jobs."

Pilgram, who won a $52 million Florida Lotto jackpot in the April 17, 2010 drawing, wants to use some of his millions to breathe new life into the streets of Sistrunk, the historically black northwestern section that lies north of Broward Boulevard and west of the FEC railroad tracks.

He's already brightened up the music scene in downtown Fort Lauderdale with his jazz lounge.

The place to go

The lounge is "wall to wall" on weekends, he says, attracting clientele from South Florida and beyond. The lounge opened in early 2018, just west of the courthouse, at 107 SW Sixth St.

His New York Subs and Wings "fast casual" restaurant is in the same building.

"This is the place to go," Pilgram said from the bar, a few hours before opening time. "We get people from as far away as Homestead and West Palm Beach. There's nothing like this."

Over on Sistrunk, Pilgram wants to renovate the two-story building that was once home to the Night Owl lounge and build a new three-story building next door.

The renovated building would become home to a second New York Subs and Wings restaurant with an open-air bar on the rooftop.

The new building would have an arts gallery, dance studio and music space on the first two floors.

The Memphis Blues lounge would occupy the third floor, with enough space for 200 patrons.

A walkway bridge would connect the two buildings.

Fort Lauderdale commissioners eager to see redevelopment in the Sistrunk area have agreed to give Pilgram a $1.5 million forgivable loan to help the Memphis Blues Complex get underway. The CRA, a redevelopment board overseen by the commission, approved the plan Thursday.

New life to Sistrunk

Mayor Dean Trantalis says Pilgram's vision would bring live entertainment to an area that's been without it for decades.

"An investment like this will help bring new life to the Sistrunk area and at the same time it appreciates the heritage of the area," Trantalis said. "We're very happy to have Mr. Pilgram step up to the plate."

Pilgram says he plans to break ground within 90 days. The lounge would open in late 2020 or early 2021, he says.

Fort Lauderdale is doing its part to spur things along, dedicating millions to fuel the building boom.

Not far from Pilgram's Memphis Blues Complex, a new YMCA will bring new life to the boulevard. Fort Lauderdale commissioners have already dedicated $10 million in taxpayer money from the CRA to that project.

Pilgram's plan includes a $15 million project that calls for the development of a parcel he owns across the street at 1429 to 1435 Sistrunk Blvd.

His company, the Pilgram Group, is planning a new four-story, 32,000-square-foot mixed-use building with shops on the ground floor; an arts and culture incubator on the second floor; loft-style residences on the third and fourth floors — and a fourth floor open-air garden.

The Sistrunk Performing Arts Incubator would offer below-market rates for budding talent offering lessons in dance, art and music.

"If you're going to invest in a community with your own money, you're bringing up the area," Pilgrim said. "This is helping a blighted area."

News story photo(Click to display full-size in gallery)

News story photo(Click to display full-size in gallery)

Sun-Sentinel, Lottery Post Staff

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8 comments. Last comment 11 months ago by noise-gate.
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Avatar
Simpsonville
United States
Member #163184
January 22, 2015
2228 Posts
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Posted: September 15, 2019, 12:37 pm - IP Logged

Love Jazz and long overdue to hear some good old saxophone.

 

Really love his idea and may require a visit there.   Got to love the arts and music.

Maybe his vision of paying it forward isn't everyone's cup of tea, but revitalizing neighborhoods is necessary too.

    hearsetrax's avatar - alien on_computer.jpg

    United States
    Member #52343
    May 21, 2007
    3270 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: September 15, 2019, 12:43 pm - IP Logged

    Love Jazz and long overdue to hear some good old saxophone.

     

    Really love his idea and may require a visit there.   Got to love the arts and music.

    Maybe his vision of paying it forward isn't everyone's cup of tea, but revitalizing neighborhoods is necessary too.

    I Agree! sounds like a good start to a great plan

    hope it works out 4 him and the neighborhood

      Avatar
      Chasing $ Millions.
      White Shores- California
      United States
      Member #136473
      December 12, 2012
      6267 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: September 15, 2019, 3:14 pm - IP Logged

      At first blush, one can tell that Miguel is savvy. He won a $52mil jackpot, but after taxes, cleared in the $30mil plus.After 9 years, many jp winners are either broke or close to it. Miguel also dresses the part as well- strictly blues! No gold chains & crap hanging from he's neck & wrists. This guy has his head about him.

      what's that old saying " If you build it. ."

       * Voice of Reason *   

       

      People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it- George Bernard Shaw.

        Avatar

        United States
        Member #180549
        March 12, 2017
        187 Posts
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        Posted: September 15, 2019, 6:03 pm - IP Logged

        $52 mil isn't that big of a pot for what this guy is wanting to do, I fear he might go broke.

          Avatar
          Maryland
          United States
          Member #162429
          January 2, 2015
          2207 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: September 15, 2019, 6:18 pm - IP Logged

          Great to read this story, this is how communities get lifted up and improved - when people care to make a difference! Thumbs Up

            Rushingwind$'s avatar - happy

            United States
            Member #199278
            June 30, 2019
            415 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: September 15, 2019, 10:41 pm - IP Logged

            Hurray!Great reporting!!  Such a giver, no wonder this beautiful mind is a winner all the way. His innovative works that upbuild communities is positive and quite rewarding and heartfelt; Kudos  to Miguel P. And the writer of this article. Dance

            Rushing Wind $

            Let this money come like a rushing wind Banana

              TemplarLoyalty's avatar - Lottery-062.jpg
              New Member
              Texas
              United States
              Member #188966
              March 31, 2018
              3 Posts
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              Posted: September 17, 2019, 11:52 am - IP Logged

              I have experience with this particular industry. He's fine as long as he manages each revenue stream separately and puts space in between each project under the main umbrella. You would be amazed at how cheap distressed commercial property is particularly in areas that haven't seen action in 10-20 years. There are lots of things he can do like negotiating a tax abatement with the city to lower or even nullify property taxes for a number of years to give the businesses enough time to mature. If he ensured that the properties were LEED certified, he would get pretty serious tax breaks from that and the tax abatement would be guaranteed. Plus, long term, his energy savings would be massive. Since he's in Florida, solar would be especially beneficial. For example, a 20,000 square foot club would run about $22k per month in just heating and cooling. Solar would massively cut his expectation particularly in the South Florida climate. 

              He also has the existing profitable club that can support the new businesses without really dipping into his savings. This is how it's done. I wish him nothing but the best. I really love how he's injecting life into a neighborhood that needs it versus investing in established communities. The profit margin between the two is large so he's part visionary and part dreamer. I dig it.

                Avatar
                Chasing $ Millions.
                White Shores- California
                United States
                Member #136473
                December 12, 2012
                6267 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: September 17, 2019, 1:36 pm - IP Logged

                I have experience with this particular industry. He's fine as long as he manages each revenue stream separately and puts space in between each project under the main umbrella. You would be amazed at how cheap distressed commercial property is particularly in areas that haven't seen action in 10-20 years. There are lots of things he can do like negotiating a tax abatement with the city to lower or even nullify property taxes for a number of years to give the businesses enough time to mature. If he ensured that the properties were LEED certified, he would get pretty serious tax breaks from that and the tax abatement would be guaranteed. Plus, long term, his energy savings would be massive. Since he's in Florida, solar would be especially beneficial. For example, a 20,000 square foot club would run about $22k per month in just heating and cooling. Solar would massively cut his expectation particularly in the South Florida climate. 

                He also has the existing profitable club that can support the new businesses without really dipping into his savings. This is how it's done. I wish him nothing but the best. I really love how he's injecting life into a neighborhood that needs it versus investing in established communities. The profit margin between the two is large so he's part visionary and part dreamer. I dig it.

                That’s what I was talking about! Glad you picked up on the red meat l threw out there & expanded on the issue Templarloyalty.Cool

                 * Voice of Reason *   

                 

                People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it- George Bernard Shaw.