June 8, 2016
The city’s hippest neighborhood gears up for an expansive—and expensive—new chapter
Written by Kim Velsey
Over the last decade, Wynwood has transformed from a rough-around-the-edges warehouse and arts district, known for its cheap rent and graffiti, to a nexus of international hipsterdom. But until last summer, when Miami created the Wynwood Neighborhood Revitalization District (NRD), the area was still zoned entirely for low-rise industrial and commercial use.
The rezoning, which permits for far denser commercial and residential development, is likely to accelerate many of the changes already washing over the enclave—making it busier, livelier and more pedestrian friendly, but also more costly.
Tony Arellano, EVP at local commercial brokerage Metro 1 Properties, has seen some big shifts since the rezoning. “We’re getting a lot of responses from really cool fashion tenants: Scotch and Soda, Warby Parker, Bonobos. Obviously, they want to piggyback on the Wynwood brand,” Arellano says, adding that creative office space is also very in-demand of late. “If Google was in Miami right now, that’s where they would be.”
Daniel de la Vega, president of ONE Sotheby’s International Realty, explains that the changes would be a boon for residential and retail—a situation from which Wynwood is uniquely positioned to benefit. “I think that besides Brickell City Center, there’s really no neighborhood in all of Dade County where you can experience both luxury development and walkability,” says de la Vega.
“For all these years you could only build 30 units an acre, so when we passed the NRD, it was like a spring got released,” Arellano adds. “Now every block you walk by, every single block, has redevelopment plans. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Some, however, are worried that the redevelopment rush may strip Wynwood of its charm. Many, for example, are alarmed by developer Moishe Mana’s plans to construct a 9-million-square-foot tech and international-trade hub, with towers as tall as 24 stories. “It used to be small galleries, artists, coffee shops—prices were $100 a foot,” says Gil Terem, a Douglas Elliman broker who’s worked in the neighborhood for 16 years. “But the last deal that took place here was $1,600 a foot—that’s going to chase everybody out who’s not a big developer.”
“Hopefully, we still have room for the students and the artists,” Terem adds. “If not, it will just become another exclusive, expensive neighborhood.”
Arellano, however, opines that without the rezoning, Wynwood would’ve stayed primarily a one-level neighborhood with galleries and art studios. “It still would have been great,” he says, “but long-term, density is our destiny.”