Much of Wynwood is now in the hands of developers. Can the neighborhood stay cool?

Visitors take pictures of the colorful murals at Wynwood Walls on Thursday August 2, 2018. To the south, construction continues on Wynwood Annex, a new office building, and the adjacent Wynwood 25, which will bring 289 apartment rentals to the neighborhood. PATRICK FARRELL pfarrell@MiamiHerald.com

Over the years, Wynwood has lured a parade of widely different denizens: Industrial workers. Manufacturers. Artists. Foodies. Techies. Beer makers. Graffiti artists.

Now, a new kind of persona is set to join the eclectic district: Nine-to-fivers.

Much like Coconut Grove, Wynwood is about to become the unlikely home of a slew of new offices, built by developers who want to capitalize on the neighborhood that was recently named one of the hippest in America by TripAdvisor.

The hope is that the new office spaces — with amenities such as 12-foot ceiling heights, open floor plans, artsy facades and proximity to Panther Coffee and The Salty Donut — will attract more of the young creatives and professionals who already work at the 400+ businesses located within the 50-block district.

New office spaces would boost Wynwood’s daytime population and attract potential tenants to the three apartment rental projects under construction in the neighborhood.

“Wynwood now is like Williamsburg was in the early days, when it was beginning its transition to residential use,” said Jonathan Miller, president of the New York-based real estate consulting firm Miller Samuel Inc., referring to a now-hot corner of Brooklyn.

“When you see all this office space coming in, that’s the first step in the balanced development of a new market,” Miller said. “It’s driving a stake in the ground for future residential development, because residential and office feed off each other.”

Four projects currently under construction, when finished, will add nearly 400,000 square feet of offices to the neighborhood:

▪ The Wynwood Garage, at 321 NW 26th St., will be an eight-story structure that will add the first 428 public, 24-hour parking spaces to Wynwood. The eighth floor will bring 30,000 square feet of offices and the ground floor will feature 20,500 square feet of retail. Construction is due to be completed in October. The developer is Goldman Properties, whose founder Tony Goldman was one of the pioneers of Wynwood’s rebirth.

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The Wynwood Garage, located at 321 NW 26th Street, will offer 24-hour parking along with 30,000 square feet of office spaces. The building is scheduled to be completed in October.Goldman Properties

▪ Cube Wynwd, at 222 NW 24th St., will offer 77,242 square feet of offices and 11,500 square feet of ground-floor retail and restaurant space. The eight-story project, developed by RedSky Capital, is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018. The shared-office company Spaces, a competitor to WeWork, has already pre-leased 27 percent of the building.

▪ Wynwood Annex, a joint venture between The Related Group and East End Capital, will add 60,000 square feet of offices and 5,000 square feet of retail space on eight floors. The building is scheduled to be completed in mid-2019. The two developers are also partnering on the adjacent Wynwood 25, a 289-unit apartment building that will feature micro-units and is expected to be finished around the same time.

▪ The Gateway at Wynwood, currently under construction at 2916 N. Miami Ave., will add another 200,000 square feet of offices and 25,940 square feet of retail space. The New York-based developer R&B Realty projects a late-2019 delivery date for the 12-story building.

The new office spaces could also attract higher-end tenants that are not a good fit for the former warehouses that currently house many restaurants and businesses in Wynwood, such as the camera maker GoPro and the media company Scripps Network.

Steven Wernick, a lawyer with the firm Akerman, gives a tour of some of the new construction just west of Northwest Second Avenue in Wynwood on Thursday, August 2, 2018.Patrick Farrell pfarrell@miamiherald.com

Yet to be determined: The rents the new offices will be asking. According to the 2018 second quarter office research report by Marcus & Millichap, the square-foot rate for high-end offices in nearby Brickell is at $44.30, a 2.6 percent spike year-over-year.

Naturally, all the new development will inevitably lead to higher rents, which is bound to set off another wave of gentrification in Wynwood.

Evolution has been the neighborhood’s ongoing story for the past two decades. The eloquent 2014 documentary “Right to Wynwood,” directed by Camila Álvarez and Natalie Edgar, depicted the evolution of “the old brow-beaten warehouse district” into a mecca for artists and clubs while chronicling the displacement of the largely Puerto Rican, working-class community who lived there.

Omar Ramirez, visiting from Colombia, takes pictures of his family by the colorful murals in Wynwood on Aug. 2, 2018. The mural is adjacent to ongoing office and condo construction.

Today, a lot of those same artists and bars have already been squeezed out. The owners of Electric Pickle, the popular dance club that had become a Wynwood fixture since opening in 2009, announced via Facebook that after “much emotional deliberation,” they would not be renewing their lease at 2826 N. Miami Ave. when it expires in June 2019.

No explanation was given for the decision, but public records show that the building was sold in 2013 for $2 million — an increase of almost 500 percent over the previous sales price of $400,000 in 2011.

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Visitors get pictures of the colorful murals at the Wynwood Walls.Patrick Farrell pfarrell@miamiherald.com
In a move that some people consider symbolic, the Rubell Family Collection is in the process of relocating to a new museum in Allapattah after 24 years in Wynwood.

 

The rent increases have hit small business especially hard. Photographer Bridges Aderhold opened his first studio/gallery in Wynwood in 2008 and relocated to several locations in the neighborhood, including a 5,500-square-foot space in 2012 inside a warehouse at 225 NW 26th St., where he paid $10,000 a month on a year-to-year lease.

When the building was sold for $25.5 million in 2016, Aderhold said the new landlord raised his rent to $45,000, forcing him to vacate the premises. In March 2017, he briefly set up shop at a new space at 124 NW 25th St. before deciding to close his studio altogether and focus on raising his baby daughter.

“It’s amazing to see what has happened in Wynwood,” said Aderhold, who is now concentrating on commercial work in New York. “The galleries that opened and the artists who came through there were very good. Maybe they weren’t the best businessmen, but a lot of artists aren’t.

“Wynwood sparked a fire in Miami’s art scene and a lot of people have made a lot of money from that. Unfortunately it wasn’t the artists. It’s a tough road. But I think those artists will spawn other neighborhoods now.”

Christi Tasker is one of the co-founders of Casa Wynwood, the event venue/gallery/co-working space formerly located at 120 NW 25th St. Tasker said she was forced to move out of the space in 2017 after her landlord declined to renew her lease. She is currently searching for a new location for the business.

“The new multi-story buildings and high-rises have disrupted too much of the outdoor gallery that once made Wynwood,” Tasker said. “While glass storefronts bring clarity and transparency to what’s inside, it was the unknown and urge to be inquisitive that once peaked a patron’s interest in Wynwood retail stores. Now, not only can most start-ups and small brands not afford their rent, but Wynwood consumers are ultimately the ones paying the price.”

But proponents of Wynwood’s new vision say change is part of the district’s history. Wynwood BID board vice chairman Albert Garcia is especially familiar with the neighborhood’s ups and downs, since his parents owned and operated Mega Shoes, a footwear manufacturing business in Wynwood, in the 1960s.

“We look at the next two to five years as that real transition point where Wynwood 2.0 comes into play with offices and residents,” Garcia said. “Wynwood has always been a work in progress. That’s what it was in the 1960s, that’s what it was in the 2010s, that’s what it still is today and what it will be in the future. It will always be a place that’s reinventing itself. It’s always slightly ahead of Miami but it’s a nice litmus test of where we’re going as a community and as a market.”

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