What’s Moishe Mana’s rationale for gobbling up large swathes of land in Wynwood and picking up trophy properties along Flagler Street? Mostly, his desire to reshape the city into a global cultural and trade hub, the investor told a standing room only crowd on Thursday during The Real Deal’s fourth annual South Florida Real Estate Showcase & Forum at SoHo Studios in Miami.
“Our job is about community building,” Mana said. “Being a catalyst for Miami. I know it is very presumptuous. But we are doing it everyday.”
Mana kicked off the event with a one-on-one with TRD’s South Florida Managing Editor Ina Cordle, talking extensively about his acquisition strategy in Miami. He also discussed why he emerged as one of President Trump’s most prominent critics from the real estate industry.
“When he was chosen to be the Republican nominee, I declared it the moral bankruptcy of America,” Mana said. “We have to endure his craziness and all his crazy ideas. He is doing destructive things on all kinds of issues.”
He also related the discrimination his family faced as Jews in Iraq before emmigrating to Israel to the current climate in the Trump era toward minorities and immigrants.
In Wynwood, Mana has amassed 40 acres where he plans to build the Mana Wynwood Americas-Asia Trade Center & International Financial Center, a trade hub and cultural campus set to break ground next year. The trade center will encompass more than 10 million square feet focused on bringing in companies and trade partners from China and Asia, Latin America, North America and the Caribbean.
The first phase calls for 4.68 million square feet of office space, showrooms, retail, hotels and public space spread across 8.5 acres. In total, Mana Wynwood will have over 50,000 square feet of civic space, nearly 3,500 residential units, over 8,000 parking spaces, and a 2.5-acre privately owned park.
Mana said he began exploring neighborhoods in Miami in 2011, around the same time his company converted a massive complex of century-old brick warehouse and factory buildings in Jersey City into a sprawling visual arts campus known as the Mana Contemporary Art Center. He was also traveling back and forth to Asia. “I totally understood the need for Miami to build a physical trade hub to facilitate trade between the U.S. and the Far East,” Mana said. “From the minute I walked into Wynwood, I knew it was the place.”
Mana said he targeted available land and properties on Wynwood’s western edges. “I needed critical mass, which is why I bought properties in the back that no one wanted,” he explained. “We have a vision for this and we are going full force.”
Of course, developing the Mana Wynwood trade center requires more than just pouring concrete, he said. Next week, his team is heading to China to form strategic relationships with Chinese partners and companies. “For the last five to six years, we have been looking for potential partners and signing memorandums of understanding,” Mana said. “This is going to attract many companies to other areas of Miami. There is no reason Miami can’t become the Hong Kong of the future.”