Zika zaps Wynwood in the short term, but will it affect real estate?

Wynwood and a mosquito
Wynwood and a mosquito

The threat of Zika has dampened tourism in Wynwood, and some real estate owners and brokers are taking advantage of the neighborhood’s vulnerability to lure prospective tenants to areas beyond the infected zone.

Lyle Chariff, David Polinsky and Tony Arellano

Lyle Chariff, David Polinsky and Tony Arellano

“We’re seeing a lot people in competitive neighborhoods, the Design District and Biscayne Boulevard, talking Wynwood down,” Lyle Chariff, president of Chariff Realty Group told The Real Deal. “Wynwood has stolen the spotlight for a while and people are using this as a way to say ‘Our neighborhood doesn’t have [Zika], it’s better. See, Wynwood isn’t that great.'”

TRD polled nearly a dozen brokers, developers and businesses to get their take on the effects of Zika in Wynwood. Most downplayed the role of Zika on rents, deals and values.

Tony Arellano, executive vice president of Metro 1 Commercial, said it would take a long time for Zika to impact rents, but said that if Wynwood were a publicly traded company on the stock exchange, the neighborhood would probably be affected.

Only one business has closed its doors since the Florida Department of Health announced last week that local mosquitos likely transmitted Zika to people in one square mile of Wynwood and unidentified parts of Broward County. The Wynwood Yard, a fully outdoor restaurant and bar, temporarily closed with no official re-opening date, although a spokesperson emphasized the temporary nature of the closure in a statement to TRD.

The county's spraying area

The county’s spraying area (click to enlarge)

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“The Wynwood Arts District’s restaurants, galleries, and retailers remain open for business. While we understand Wynwood Yard’s decision to close for the time-being, the remaining 300 businesses that make up the unique and vibrant fabric of the neighborhood continue to operate as usual,” Albert Garcia, vice chairman of the Wynwood Business Improvement District and managing principal of Wynwood Ventures, said in a statement.

Beaker & Gray, at 2637 North Miami Avenue, closed its glass windows, according to the Miami New Times. The restaurant, which has a 500-square-foot outdoor terrace, declined to comment to TRD.

Real estate agents and brokers told TRD that the outbreak has had no effect on commercial deals in Wynwood, or residential sales in Midtown Miami, which is part of the outbreak zone. The CDC on Monday advised that pregnant women and their partners avoid Wynwood, known for its walkability and outdoor space at bars and restaurants. Fifteen people in Florida were found to have been infected with the virus as of Wednesday.

Miami-Dade County on Thursday will spray a 10-square-mile area with Naled insecticide, including the affected area, bounded by Northwest 5th Avenue to the west, US 1 to the east, 38th Street to the north and 20th Street to the south. And the aerial spraying comes after weeks of hand spraying and chemical applications to kill larvae, according to the Miami Herald. 

At Mana Wynwood, managing director Dylan Finger said no events have been canceled officially, “but there are concerns.”

David Polinsky, a developer and chair of the BID, downplayed Zika and said it is “certainly not a concern in the longterm.”

“This happens to be the worst season because it’s the middle of the summer, but it’s also the slowest time,” he told TRD.

Ina Cordle contributed to this report.

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