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AS MUCH AS THE complexity of any modern metropolis resists the influence of a single individual, Miami native Craig Robins, 51, the founder of the real estate development firm Dacra, is nevertheless making a strong case for himself as the author of the Magic City’s future. After aiding the transformation of the moribund South Beach area into a glamorous district of pristinely restored Art Deco hotels in the ’80s and ’90s, he helped engineer the launch of Art Basel–Miami Beach and co-created the satellite fair Design Miami. Now he’s about to see the fruits of more than a decade of planning and construction as another area revitalized under his care—the once-derelict Design District—becomes home to a who’s who of high-end fashion retail brands like Louis Vuitton, Tom Ford and Dolce & Gabbana, with 50 stores set to open next year.
Robins came by his métier partly by blood—his father, Gerry, was a successful New York City real estate broker who decamped to Miami in the 1950s. A college stint in Barcelona sparked the younger Robins’s interest in the arts—and in the idea of preserving cultural history, a belief that shaped his efforts to rehabilitate iconic hotels on Miami Beach’s Ocean Drive alongside his mentors, Island Records founder Chris Blackwell and developer Tony Goldman. ….