Nick Katz is revolutionizing skateboarding in the Magic City.
This November 16, Katz plans to open a new skate park beneath I-95 at NW First Street. The Lot 11 Skate Park will include 48,000 square feet of jumps, sharp corners, and big bowls.
“Lot 11 honestly is one of the best things to ever happen in Miami,” said local skater Chris Morgan, who has seen the facilities but not yet tried them out. “Ever since I was little, I would see kids skate at fire skate parks in other cities and wish my city had one. I’m mad excited to have a place to learn tricks and hang with my boys every day!”
The $1.8 million park fills a hole left by the downtown Grand Central Skate Park, which closed several years ago. It’s funded by the City of Miami, the nonprofit organization, Skate Free, and the Barry Katz and Sandra James Lead Trust. It will offer a place for kids in nearby Overtown, as well as the thousands who have recently moved downtown, the opportunity to skate for free.
Katz’s passion for skating started in Palmetto Bay, when he was 10 years old. He practiced at nearby Coral Reef Park. Before graduating from the New World School of the Arts, he studied at Cal State Los Angeles, where he experienced an amazing world of skating much larger than Miami’s.
“I was so inspired by what I had seen in California that I decided I had to start an initiative towards creating that same energy around skateboarding here in my hometown,” Katz said.
Back in 2013, Katz helped start Grand Central Skate Park not far from Lot 11 in downtown. Scores of skaters filled the park until it closed after just a few months.
Katz and Danny Fuenzalida, a friend and fellow skater, started Skate Free to advocate for their sport. In April 2016, Katz asked Miami city commissioners for financial help in building the Lot 11 Park. He promised private money would at least match the city’s contribution dollar for dollar. In the end, the Sandra James and Barry Katz Lead Trust, a non-profit organization founded by Katz’s parents, kicked in double the $600,000 that was originally planned to Lot 11. Despite a hiccup, when it seemed part of the public money would fall through, the city paid $600,000.
Katz, who owns a skate shop called Andrew, believes both those who are less fortunate and who come from a “benefited background” will be able to utilize the free skate park.
Eric Abdou-Essa is a local skater who recently moved to Miami from Fort Myers and now attends the University of Miami. He lives in the central city. “I used to have to drive like two hours out of my way if I wanted to go skate somewhere that was actually fun,” he says. “So now knowing that down the road I’m going to have one of the best parks in the U.S. is super exciting.”