Midtown, loft projects transform Wynwood into vibrant district
By Deserae del Campo
Miami's Wynwood neighborhood is leaving its industrial look behind and heading into an era of live-work lofts, art galleries and performance studios, being transformed from a desolate area to a vibrant arts locale tucked between Miami's Design District and the Performing Arts Center.
In 2004, Florida International University's Metropolitan Center studied ways to improve neighborhoods east of the Florida East Coast Railway tracks, including Wynwood, just east of Interstate 95, north of Northwest 20th Street and west of the tracks. The study suggested that the city focus on a 56-acre plot that would help revitalize the area.
Midtown Miami - bounded by Northwest 36th Street, Northeast Second Avenue, North Miami Avenue and Northwest 29th Street - is to cover 18 city blocks with 600,000 square feet of retail space, 3,000 condo lofts and 350 apartment units.
Developer David Lombardi envisions a Wynwood for artists and residents in New York-style loft apartments built in abandoned warehouses. "I do have a vision for the area being a live-and-work creative neighborhood," he said.
Most of Wynwood is zoned industrial, but Mr. Lombardi has asked city officials to change the status for residential projects.
Wynwood Lofts is one project for which he sought zoning changes.
"In the past, within the early stages of Wynwood Lofts, we asked the city to re-zone the area from industrial to C-2 with commercial component to a C-1 living component," Mr. Lombardi said.
Wynwood Lofts, 250 NW 23rd St., was made into 36 live-work loft units ranging from 840 to 1,463 square feet. The units include 12-foot ceilings, concrete floors and stainless-steel appliances to give them an industrial look.
Mr. Lombardi is working on another Wynwood project, Pompeii - a 10-story, 108-unit development in the center of Wynwood's Arts District.
Pompeii, 301 NW 23rd St., six blocks from Midtown Miami, will include 8,921 square feet of retail and rooftop cabanas.
Wynwood's Arts District is exploding with more than 40 art galleries and studios that are rehabilitating the area into an art center just south of Miami's Design District.
The district also hosted festivities for acclaimed Art Basel.
The art district - from Northwest 36th Street to the north, Northeast 20th Street to the south, Northwest Sixth Avenue to the west and Biscayne Boulevard to the east - is sprouting art galleries and studios that open to the public every second Saturday.
"The whole area seems to be picking up steam," said Mike Seiden, president of Seiden and Co., who has operated his business in Wynwood since 2002. "All the artists in the neighborhood are doing a lot of cool stuff with paint and architecture. It's exciting to see these old buildings in Wynwood looking very good."
Carlos Diaz of Pembroke Pines has run his textile business, Trimming and Lace Inc., in Wynwood for five years. "I see a lot of people using the live-work element in their businesses and I really like it," said Mr. Diaz. "It definitely makes commuting to work easier. This is something I could consider, because in my business I'm able to make a second floor."
"We hope that Miami 21 improves this area with new zoning," Mr. Lombardi said. "We should look at Wynwood as a clean canvas and see what amazing opportunities can happen here."