Mana, property owners continue to hash out Wynwood plans

David Polinsky, a rendering of Mana Wynwood and Moishe Mana
David Polinsky, a rendering of Mana Wynwood and Moishe Mana

Wynwood property owners continue to voice opposition to the details of a proposed development plan that could pave the way for the creation of a miniature city just east of I-95.

At the same time, board members of the Wynwood Business Improvement District want to keep talking to Mana Miami, a local business entity controlled by developer Moishe Mana. During their meeting on Tuesday, Wynwood BID board members unanimously approved a resolution asking the City of Miami’s Planning and Zoning Board to defer hearing Mana’s proposed “Mana Wynwood Special Area Plan,” which was scheduled for Wednesday, to March 2.

The delay is fine with Dylan Finger, managing director of Mana Miami, who said his company will hold a community meeting explaining Mana’s plans for his part of Wynwood sometime in February.

Finger added that he’s determined to resolve most, if not all, of the concerns of Mana’s neighboring property owners. “We’ll get through it,” he said.

Mana is requesting the zoning to build a series of buildings totaling up to 9.72 million square feet on 23.46 acres of land he assembled west of Northwest Sixth Avenue, south of Northwest 25th Street, east of Northwest Second Avenue, and north of Northwest 22nd Street, most of which is just outside of the Wynwood BID. As planned, those buildings would include 51,146 square feet of civic space, 3,487 residential units, 8,483 parking spaces, and a 2.5-acre privately owned park dubbed “Mana Commons.”

Iris Escarra, Mana’s land use attorney, noted that her client has the right to build as much as 8 million square feet under the area’s current zoning. “So, this project is proposing slightly more square feet [of development] than is currently allowed,” she said.

Escarra explained that Mana is seeking more density in order to have the flexibility needed to build a “cultural campus” as successful as Mana Contemporary in Jersey City. As part of that cultural campus, Mana is exploring ways of developing affordable “micro-apartments,” Finger told TRD.

However, during the Wynwood BID meeting, property owners voiced concerns that Mana’s proposal will turn Wynwood, one of the most popular arts districts in Miami, into an area similar to high-rise-infested Brickell, only with worse traffic.

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“It’s out of scale and not in context with the surrounding area,” said Albert Price, principal of New York-based Bazbaz Development. “Why can’t the bold vision and plan of this kind of creatively-mixed use [project], why can’t it happen under the existing [regulations] of the NRD (Wynwood Neighborhood Revitalization District)?”

The NRD was approved in September and includes the Wynwood BID and Mana’s Wynwood properties. Under the Wynwood NRD, building heights are capped at between eight and 12 stories, depending on the location. But within the proposed Mana Wynwood SAP buildings can be constructed as tall as 24 stories near I-95.

It wasn’t just building heights that Wynwood land owners are worried about. David Polinsky, a principal in Fortis Development Group who chairs the BID’s planning committee, disagreed with provisions that included a streamlined process for temporary special event permits within the SAP for the next 30 years, and waiving a requirement that storefront retail cover 75 percent of the ground floor of new buildings. “We want all street level facades to be active and covered with glass,” Polinsky said.

Polinsky also doesn’t like language allowing “electric media signs” 35 feet in height mounted on 80-foot tall structures within the Mana Wynwood SAP.

Bernard Zyscovich, an architect and urban planner who drafted the language in the Mana Wynwood SAP, insisted the media signs would be used primarily for artistic purposes and won’t be used for advertising. Nor will such signs be seen outside of Mana’s territory, Zyscovich added.

As for the apprehension from Mana’s neighbors, Zyscovich said, “They have concerns and they want to spend a little more time” analyzing the proposed plan.

“I’m sure we’ll get through this,” the architect added.