There’s been a lot of buzz about Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood recently, and it’s now gaining national attention. Every year, the American Planning Association (APA) compiles a list of 15 Great Places in America, including great neighborhoods, streets and public spaces. This year, the Wynwood Arts District has been named as one of the four Great Neighborhoods. According to a recent Miami New Times article, the program looks for places in the U.S. that demonstrate “exceptional character, quality, and planning” that represent “the gold standard in terms of having a true sense of place, cultural and historical interest, community involvement, and a vision for the future.” After a period of neglect in the late 1970s and 80s, the city of Miami invited reinvestment into the Wynwood area with zoning incentives, marketing, and beautification strategies. By the late 90s and 2000s, artists and collectors began setting up shop in the neighborhood, creating a scene of studios, galleries, restaurants, bars, and creative office spaces. The district has also installed bike share stations and added parks to improve walkability and bike access, adding to the attraction. And with new projects on the horizon, we’re not at all surprised that Wynwood is getting the attention that it so deserves.
Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood as long been known for its artsy, eclectic vibe and has seen many changes over the last couple of years. The traditionally industrial area has gained a lot of attention from developers as one of the next “it” communities in South Florida. But revitalization of the community hasn’t been easy due to challenges with zoning and land use designations, which is why a plan to make it easier to build mixed-use, residential projects has been in the works. And according to a recent article from The Real Deal, that plan has cleared its first obstacle.
Last night, the city of Miami Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board approved the changes in zoning and land use designation that would remove most industrial uses, allowing denser residential developments on approximately 205 acres in Wynwood. Additionally the board recommended that the community be approved as the city’s first Neighborhood Revitalization District, which will apparently encourage builders to create wider sidewalks, pedestrian walkways within large projects, offer financial incentives for the preservation of warehouses, and make it easier to construct affordable housing.
“This is the most exciting thing to happen to the neighborhood that all of us poured our hearts into,” claimed Joseph Furst, Wynwood director for Goldman Properties, which is one of the largest landowners in the area. “We have created incredible momentum. Now it’s time to create a place we can call home.”
Over the last year-and-a-half, neighborhood stakeholders have voiced their opinions to members of the Wynwood Business Improvement and the city’s planning and zoning staff in creating the plan. Analysis of other industrial neighborhoods transitioning into commercial and residential areas around the country was performed in hopes of “getting it right.” The goal is ultimately to allow for mixed-use developments that will provide a neighborhood where people can live, work and play, all while preserving the eclectic feel through preservation of existing properties. “It still encourages the arts and hosting of events, keeping with Wynwood’s character,” said Jonathon Yormak, principal with Madison Avenue-based real estate investment firm East End Capital. “This has been a model initiative in that the development community, the people in the neighborhood and city have come together to collaborate and compromise.”