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Q&A: Cho Notes Miami’s Wynwood ‘Had That Special Sauce’

March 23, 2018

Tony Cho, founder and CEO of the Metro 1 brokerage, was one of the first investors in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, buying an eight-unit apartment building on 27th Street in 2003.

tony cho

“It was a blighted, post-industrial warehouse district with neglected and abandoned textile buildings with tenants paying very low rents in very bad conditions,” he recalls.

Plenty has changed in the past 15 years.

The 50-block arts corridor north of downtown is an emerging retail, office and residential destination. Cho, a broker and developer, has helped lead the transformation.

Cho is a partner in projects totaling four acres of Wynwood, including a venture with The Related Group to build 182 micro-unit condominiums between 28th and 29th Streets on Northwest First Avenue. He says sales will launch in the next six months.

His firm has brokered deals to bring in trendy new tenants, including Zak the Baker, Ducati and Salty Donut. He also was a founding member of the Wynwood Business Improvement District, which helped create the Wynwood Revitalization District, a progressive zoning measure that led to the development happening today.

CoStar News: What persuaded you to buy into the neighborhood so many years ago?
Tony Cho: »The energy and grittiness of Wynwood were palpable back then. It had that special sauce. It was well-located, midway between Miami International Airport and South Beach, and near the urban core. The real estate was accessible and affordable. The catalysts happened in tandem: art galleries and the street art movement. People came to the neighborhood to look at the beautiful murals. Initially, there were only a few art galleries, but by the mid-to-late 2000s, there was something like 70 art galleries, and the area was in full bloom.
What’s the ideal retail tenant for Wynwood?
» We brokered a deal for an Asian food hall, and it’s doing phenomenal. It’s a unique and innovative concept that will help support other types of retail. As more residents live in the area, there will be a need for local cleaners, local bakers, local workspaces, sunglass stores, more things like that. It needs to have all the same types of amenities that any other neighborhood would have. I think the ideal tenant will be experience-driven, personality-driven and aspirational – retail that is telling a story. Wynwood is a place for innovation and creativity.
What kind of rents are retail tenants paying?
» They range from $35 a square foot to as much as $120 a square foot, triple net. It’s quite a range. Obviously, as you get closer to where all the action is, the rents go up. But the area has the foot traffic and the car traffic to support those rents.
What will Wynwood look like in five years?
» Over the next five years, we’ll really see value creation through development. There are four or five projects in various stages of construction. So I think you’ll see the neighborhood blossom in terms of development. Wynwood has a lot of runway left for development.

What’s the biggest challenge facing the neighborhood?
» Over the next five years, we’ll really see value creation through development. There are four or five projects in various stages of construction. So I think you’ll see the neighborhood blossom in terms of development. Wynwood has a lot of runway left for development.

What’s the biggest challenge facing the neighborhood?

» I don’t think there’s really anything holding Wynwood back. There’s a concerted effort to make sure Wynwood is held to a certain standard, that it retains the creative juice that makes Wynwood, Wynwood. The market will determine what and when things get built. I don’t think there’s unlimited demand, but I think Wynwood is at the beginning of its story.

Original Article: http://www.costar.com/News/Article/QA-Cho-Notes-Miamis-Wynwood-Had-That-Special-Sauce/199208?rpt=1

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