How Wynwood Became ‘Absolutely the coolest neighborhood in the country’

Jessica Goldman Srebnick, CEO of Goldman Properties, remembered how her developer father, the late Tony Goldman, led the revitalization of New York’s SoHo in the 1970s, Miami Beach in the 1990s and the Center City District of Philadelphia.

“And we came to this little wonderful neighborhood called Wynwood in 2005,” she said during a Bisnow Wynwood webinar last week. “And my Dad in his traditional way of being able to envision things of what they could be as opposed to what they are at the time, he stood on Northwest Second Avenue, and he said, ‘This is going to be the center for the creative class.’ That was the goal.”

Goldman opened a few restaurants, like Joey’s and Wynwood Kitchen and Bar, to spur people to hang out there. Since then, Wynwood blew up as a street art destination and has evolved into a more mature neighborhood with offices, retail and apartments. Five million visitors come each year, according to the Wynwood Business Improvement District.

“Why do people want to work there? Why do people want to live there? Because it’s gonna be it’s the coolest place ever. Simple.”

Albert Garcia’s family’s roots in Wynwood go back to the 1960s, when it was a garment district. Now chairman and co-founder of the Wynwood BID, a quasi-governmental agency founded by property owners, Garcia said Wynwood is home to more than 400 locally owned, independent businesses, and, increasingly, national and international brands. Spotify is about to move into its Latin American HQ with 200 employees to Wynwood, Garcia said.

He said the blueprint for growth was laid in 2015, when the city of Miami’s planning department created a Neighborhood Revitalization District plan, a rezoning of the 50-city-block district. New residential and office buildings were delivered in the past year or two, and today the development pipeline includes more than 1M SF of projects, from multifamily to hotels and offices.

Deals have continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Goldman Srebnick said.

“There’s no analysis paralysis,” she said. 

Garcia was excited about a streetscape master plan that is going through approvals, and Wynwood Walks.

“These are these linear parkways and we’re going to be establishing throughout the neighborhood. Think of them as a road diet,” he said. “Currently, streets that function in a two-way format are going to be consolidated to a single lane, and all of that extra space is going to be allocated back to the pedestrian.”

The landscaped areas will serve as public gathering spaces for cultural events and community meetings, Garcia said. Commuter rail along the existing cargo railway could also soon add a stop in or near Wynwood.

The development pipeline for the neighborhood includes a residential/hotel project by Lucky Shepherd called Shepherd Eco. It would have 150 hotel rooms and 48 residential units. 

“We incorporate hydroponic farming throughout, we have next-gen building materials and techniques, incorporating resiliency into how we really think and look at the built environment,” Lucky Shepherd co-founder and CEO Christine Menedis said. “And then we back it all with state-of-the-art tech.”

The design, by Touzet Studios, will include a private park where films can be projected on the backside of the residential building. A paseo will be used as a fashion runway.

Sterling Bay Chief Investment Officer and principal Chang Lee explained what drew his Chicago-based company to build a Class-A office building in Wynwood.

“What we were finding from the tenants that we test, they’re looking for areas to help recruit and retain talent. That’s the most important part of these growing companies,” he said. “And what they found is that the success they had was to be located in these type of neighborhoods. So we were looking in your Brooklyn Dumbo Arts District, LA, [The River North Art District] in Denver.”

“I tell people all the time, this is absolutely the coolest neighborhood in the country,” Lee continued. “We were lucky enough to partner with JP Morgan, who is our largest partner with our office developments. And they had an incredible amount of success investing in office buildings in these emerging neighborhoods, from Boston to Los Angeles.”

Sterling Bay’s 10-story, 299K SF building, 545 Wyn, designed by Gensler, will have balconies on each floor and was designed with big floor plates.

“Growing companies generally want to be on one floor, because the interactions between their employees, if they are separated by a floor, those go from 90% to less than five,” Lee said.

One of the most special things about Wynwood is that it’s a neighborhood where “design and art matters,” Goldman Srebnick said. “And that is a catalyst for creating really interesting authentic places around the world.”  

In Wynwood, even the parking garages are cool. Her current focus is on Wynwood Garage, a mixed-use project with 428 parking spaces, offices and retail. It will be encased in metalwork, like a sculpture.

“One of the most amazing features is going to be the art that is happening on the underside of the of the garage ceilings along the perimeter,” Goldman Srebnick said. “So that you experience it, as you’re walking in the street and you’re looking up, you’re going to be seeing curated art, and looking at the canvas now in a different way.”


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