” I take all the lessons that I’ve learned over the course of working with him for the last 15 years and just being his daughter for a long time and put my own spin on it.”
The day of our meeting, Shepard Fairey is starting a new mural featuring an image of her late father. “Give me a minute,” Goldman says as she tears up ever so slightly when she sees Fairey. A moment later, she’s back. All eyes are on Jessica Goldman as she takes the reins at Goldman Properties following the death of her father, visionary Tony Goldman this past September. Mr. Goldman was lauded for revitalizing not one, not two, but three depressed neighborhoods in his lifetime. Starting with SoHo in New York City in the 1970’s. “SoHo is where I grew up,” explains Goldman. I was there in the 70s; I saw when there was nothing, when the streets were dark, and there was no business. Bringing life and bringing energy and bringing people into the streets is an extraordinary thing, I think.”
While SoHo’s transformation was one for the record books, it was Goldman’s ability to recreate that magic two more times out of red line districts nobody else would touch, that earned him irrefutable status as a visionary. He played a major role in South Beach’s revival in the late 80’s and 90’s and was single handedly responsible for the artification and renewal of Wynwood. All three of these neighborhoods have three things in common—art, great existing architecture and a certain hip factor that almost certainly is no coincidence. Jessica had a front row view to all three transformations.
“Most people like to see the negative side of things, they see what a place is not, not what it could be. That’s really what our company is about: seeing what could be… and making something better than what it started as.” Wynwood is a perfect example of the Goldmans abilities. Less than eight years ago, it was a serious no mans land. It was populated with industrial warehouses, homeless shelters and clinics… and their patrons. But where most people saw windowless buildings, Jessica’s father saw giant canvases. So he created the Wynwood Walls in 2009, a pedestrian park that uses the exteriors of six nearby warehouses to showcase the best street artists in the world. He brought in Jeffery Deitch to curate its first incarnation that included murals by Shepard Fairey and Kenny Scharf. He also opened the art-laden Wynwood Kitchen & Bar with Jessica to serve as an anchor for the space. The restaurant, which she now oversees, was a compliment to Joey’s, which was opened on the same block by her brother, in 2008.
“You have to be the example. And so we open our own restaurants, we put down our roots and we help to lead community organizations. We work with government officials—we’re committed. It’s like a swimming pool—someone has to jump in first and test the waters before everybody else feels comfortable about jumping in too.”
Feeling comfortable diving in head first is a trait Goldman has clearly inherited. Goldman has already been hard at work, revamping the company’s website, goldmanproperties.com. “It’s really very much my baby and something I’m really proud of and excited about— it really shows the diversity of our organization,” she says. “I think it will take time for us to truly discover the next path of Goldman Properties, but we have a solid foundation, a strong business and an amazing path that my dad started that we will continue on.”
But as the wife of Scott Srebnick, a successful attorney and mother of three young boys ages 5, 8 and 10, her hat as CEO of Goldman Properties isn’t the only one she wears. “It’s a balance, and some days I’m better at being a mommy and some days I’m better at work,” explains Goldman. She also feels that work can be successfully integrated into family, even if it means talking shop at the dinner table. “My parents did it, and I actually think it’s a really healthy thing for my sons to see what it is to be a strong, successful woman. I encourage them to know what I do, so it’s not a big secret. They ask me ‘Mommy how was your day today? What did you work on?’” And she does include them; she travels with them, takes them to tastings, shows them different artists she’s considering or working with and tries to expose them to as much as possible. “It takes a little more effort, but your children are that much wiser and sophisticated for it. And traveling opens your eyes to so many new things, it forms who you are.”
As for Goldman, she’s still reeling from the sudden changes in her life. “You know, my dad has been gone for two and a half months and its still really fresh and new and a very big adjustment. I take all the lessons that I’ve learned over the course of working with him for the last 15 years and just being his daughter for a long time and put my own spin on it.” It is with these lessons that she intends to move Goldman Properties forward with plans for an office building in Wynwood and the constant evolution of the Walls.
“He’s an irreplaceable figure to me; there will never be another quite like him. But he also gave me the gift of opening my eyes to a world of business, a world of art, a world of culture, a world of kindness, a world of doing right for the planet. How could I not want to continue? I’m not him and I don’t pretend to be him. I am my own person and my hope is that I can give to the world what he’s given to the world.”