Moishe Mana and the Wynwood Business Improvement District board appear to have reached a compromise after heated debate over restrictions on Mana’s massive development in the neighborhood, but uncertainty still hovers over the arts- and trade-focused redevelopment.
Early Wednesday afternoon during another contentious meeting, the Wynwood BID rescinded its previously promised support for Mana’s project after the board was unable to get the developer to recommit $7.5 million that had been set aside for neighborhood improvements.
Mana’s representatives maintained they had to shift all but $2.5 million of a $10 million contribution meant for Wynwood to the Overtown area at the behest of Miami City Commissioner Keon Hardemon. However, after a long discussion, the board agreed the BID would renew its support for Mana’s Special Area Plan if the developer would only move forward with one phase of the project located on the west end of Wynwood along Northwest Fifth Avenue.
The developer would then delay approval for the culture-oriented eastern zone of the proposed project while it worked with the BID to ensure buildings conform to the Neighborhood Revitalization District, a special set of zoning rules in Wynwood that makes it easier for developers to convert land zoned for industrial use for commercial and residential uses.
Iris Escarra, Mana’s attorney, and Bernard Zyscovich, the project architect, told the BID they would try to make the requested changes to the Special Area Plan by the start of the Miami City Commission planning and zoning hearing Thursday evening. But they also said they could still also stick with their original plan.
The compromise to split the Special Area Plan into two zones with the more profitable western portion moving forward came from BID board planning committee chairman David Polinsky, whose company developed 250 Wynwood, the first completed condo building in the neighborhood.
“I think it is an outcome that [would] be wonderful for everybody,” Polinsky said. “It opens the road for a cleaner dialogue.”
After months of negotiations, Mana and the BID had reached an accord that resulted in a resolution this past March stating the group supports Mana Wynwood, which encompasses 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.” That deal fell apart in recent weeks after Polinsky and other board members expressed outrage over Mana redirecting the $7.5 million to Overtown after a private meeting with Hardemon, but without giving the BID a heads up about the change.
Tempers flared during the BID meeting on Wednesday. Pinecrest Mayor Cindi Lerner, a Wynwood property owner and wife of BID boardmember Irv Lerner, lashed out at Zyscovich when he insisted the Mana team had not reneged on its deal.
“We disagree that we changed the deal,” Zyscovich said. “We believe we complied with everything to the letter.”
“You may be able to sit there with a straight face and say, ‘We are still paying $10 million and upholding our commitment,’” Lerner shot back. “But that is not true.”