Wynwood faces new round of gentrification

The iconic Wynwood neighborhood – once a place to avoid – is now seeing a second wave of gentrification, with some of its pioneering businesses leaving either because of increasing costs or to cash out on the increasingly valuable land.

Two of the most iconic places in the district – O Cinema and The Wynwood Yard – acknowledged in September they would be closing to make room for an 11-story apartment building. The Wynwood Yard’s last day is set for May 5; representatives of O Cinema could not be reached, but its website states no events are scheduled for the Wynwood location.

The Wynwood Yard won’t disappear completely but will move to Doral. Julie Frans, the culinary and community director of the yard, says that while it will still have some of the same elements, it will be adapting to its new community.

“We are not taking The Wynwood Yard and picking it up and putting it somewhere else,” said Frans, who has been with the company since the beginning, “Doral will have a different feel and programming because it will be for that audience.”

Frans thinks that change is part of the process and evolution and that the changes that Lincoln Road once faced are the same Wynwood is facing right now,

“You do what you do when you can do it and then you have to be ready for the time to be up and for things to change, and you can’t resist change you just move up to next stop,” she said.

Some locals, like Isabella Zapata, who works at Valija Gitana, don’t like the changes.

“I think Wynwood is losing what it had before. It was something for local people, very urban, hipster, and now everyone is here and they want to build more common things, it’s sad,” she said.

The closures have seen some pushback, with the satirical news website The Plantain publishing an article soon after the closures were announced that the Wynwood Walls would be turned in to a Walgreens.

“I think people are angry to some extent, the local community does find issues with things such as gentrification, so people put out stories out there and try to create that kind of backlash, and it’s believable because these things are happening,” said Christopher Menasce, an art student who works at the Wynwood Walls. “It’s part of the reality that you have to understand working in a booming art community that caters to tourists and to making money.”

But there is some movement to keep some of the local flavors alive. Amendments to Wynwood’s zoning regulations were approved in November by the Miami City Commission to support small-scale developments.

“Our goal in developing this legislation was to ensure that Wynwood continues to have an appropriate balance of large and small buildings, as the latter contribute to the character of the neighborhood on a more human scale while being friendlier to small businesses,” David Polinsky, a member of Wynwood’s Business Improvement District board, said in a press release.