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Miami club mines glam from downtown's grit

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Miami club mines glam from downtown's grit

BY MADELEINE MARR

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Downtown Miami just gets edgier by the millisecond.

It's got no Art Deco hipster hotels, no Ocean Drive, no pounding surf to speak of. But it's got one thing SoBe doesn't -- grit.

And that's precisely what Kurt VanNostrand, former general manager of B.E.D., is pinning his hopes on. With his new nightclub, Pawn Shop, housed in -- you guessed it, an old pawn shop -- downtown visitors will get to see how the other side of the causeway lives and, more importantly, parties.

On the outside -- Pawn Shop, in the shadow of the chug-chugging-along Performing Arts Center -- not much has changed. Scratch that. Nothing has changed. The original screaming yellow-and-red facade of the 1938 pawn shop remains; they even retained the exterior signs reading ''WE BUY DIAMONDS'' and ''WE BUY GOLD.'' (You want grit? Rumor has it the former owners would sell anything, ''including a severed head that still had its gold teeth in it,'' according to a club press release.)

Visitors enter through a surreptitious side door. ''We were going for a New York underground, speakeasy feel,'' says VanNostrand, 36. No special knock or code, though; your hip-hugging Sevens should get you in. At least that was the unofficial dress code for visitors to the soft opening party last weekend. Many likely had never seen the inside of a pawn shop in their 20- to 30-something years on earth.

They still hadn't, really.

Aside from two steel vaults -- one's now a purse/coat check; the other a wine cellar -- the interior is ''Andy Warhol meets SoHo loft meets period-modern meets . . .'' VanNostrand trails off. Even the creator himself may believe Pawn Shop defies description.

Although he is anything but laconic.

``I'll go on and on about this place if you let me.''

Understandable. The D.C.-born VanNostrand has a lot to crow about besides Pawn Shop. His other baby, Mila Elle, just turned 5 months old.

But when VanNostrand talks, it'd be a good idea to listen. His r

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That's awesome! What a crazy looking building. Thought I wonder what the "gritty" atmoshpere will be like when the Performing Arts Center and neighboring projects open.

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