Wynwood BID steers community to more balanced future with revitalization plan

People gather outside Panther Coffee in Wynwood. Photo by Alec Schwartzman.

This post has been updated to reflect that the Wynwood Business Improvement District already has off-duty officers patroling the area and ambassadors who work to keep streets and sidewalks free of trash.

Thursday may bring fresh changes to the Wynwood community. The Wynwood Neighborhood Revitalization District (NRD) Plan, approved unanimously by the City of Miami Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board recently, will go before the City Commission for final authorization.

“For Wynwood, this will be the first time in its modern history where the community has come together to express a common vision for the future,” said Albert Garcia, vice chair of the Wynwood Business Improvement District (BID). “It is setting the framework for responsible residential and commercial development that balances the history and character of the arts district we have all grown to love today.”

Established in 2013 with Knight Foundation support, the Wynwood BID is a collection of local property and business owners with the mission to make Wynwood an internationally recognized epicenter for art, culture and business. Keeping the original visions of developers David Lombardi and Tony Goldman in mind, the leaders of the BID created this proposal with the intention of preserving the industrial and artistic nature of the neighborhood while creating a community where people can both live and work.

“It’s a continuation of the renaissance they were the catalyst of,” Garcia said. “When they came to Wynwood, it was largely abandoned by the garment industry that had left. In its place, they brought back people, businesses and creatives at a much-needed time when there were no cultural arts communities. Miami is now going through an immense cultural renaissance with institutions like [Perez Art Museum Miami], which have put us at a world-class level.”

The BID established the Wynwood Design Review Committee as part of the revitalization plan. The committee is another measure intended to protect the community’s artistic integrity.

“The Wynwood Design Review Committee is an entity … where creatives, design professionals and leaders in the community will review large-scale development projects to make sure they hold true to the historical arts character of our district today,” Garcia said.

One of the main challenges in making Wynwood truly residential friendly is the lack of green space. To combat this shortcoming, the Neighborhood Revitalization District plan introduces the concept of shared streets, inspired by Dutch woonerfs. The plan would convert Northwest Third Avenue, Northwest First Avenue and Northwest First Place into public “living streets” at certain times by bringing in street furniture and landscaping, and improving sidewalk conditions.

“Because there is no public park or spaces within the BID’s boundaries, we looked across the pond to Europe for ideas,” Garcia said. “This concept of taking back our streets and retrofitting them to hybrid parks, and obviously a means for vehicular transit, emerged. Over time we are confident they will bring much-needed shade, and will actually create further dynamic places that are unique to Wynwood, contrasting it even more from places around the world.”

The BID will also continue to emphasize safety and cleanliness, continuing initiatives where off-duty officers patrol daily and “Clean Team” ambassadors help keep streets and sidewalks free of trash.

One key aspect of the initiative is creating space for individuals and families to live in Wynwood, which is primarily known for creative enterprises, co-working spaces and startups. The plan provides incentives to real estate developers to make smaller-sized units during construction of new loft spaces. The units would provide cost-effective housing options to local artists and entrepreneurs. BID officials said changes would help maintain Wynwood’s tourism status, and also create a livable neighborhood for the district’s workers.

Alec Schwartzman is an editorial intern for Knight Foundation. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @AMSchwartzman.

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