Moishe Mana is on a rampage against the Wynwood Business Improvement District after city officials shut down a pop-up street market on land he owns in Miami’s trendiest neighborhood.
In the past week, the billionaire developer sent threatening text messages to the Wynwood BID’s executive director and a police commander, began circulating an online petition to “Save Wynwood” from the BID and promised to push Miami’s elected officials to abolish the BID.
In response, the Wynwood BID’s leadership is accusing Mana of waging a misinformation and intimidation campaign to avoid responsibility for repeatedly violating zoning code and noise ordinances at Wynwood Marketplace, a regular weekend event held at 2250 Northwest Second Avenue, one of several parcels that make up the six-acre Mana Wynwood complex.
Mana owns a total of 45 acres in Wynwood that he plans on redeveloping into an arts, entertainment and trade hub.
“It’s deeply disturbing that Mr. Mana and his associates have taken such divisive actions in lieu of fostering respectful and productive discussions with commercial property and business owners to alleviate the legitimate concerns of the community that the rules do not seem to apply to Mr. Mana,” the Wynwood BID said in a statement.
Mana, who is arguably the largest property owner in Wynwood and downtown Miami, did not respond to requests for comment about the text messages and the alleged violations. In an email statement, Mana said Wynwood should be a thriving district for arts and culture and not subject to the same restrictions as a suburban neighborhood.
“We are adamantly opposed to any attempt, in favor of short-term profits, to sanitize the factors that make Wynwood unique,” Mana said. “Many neighborhoods in Miami have fallen victim to irresponsible development that does not respect the character and spirit that made the area unique in the first place. We refuse to allow Wynwood to share that same fate.”
The acrimony revolves around Wynwood Marketplace, which is operated by event and marketing company Swarm. According to city records, Wynwood Marketplace had been operating without a temporary use permit, which regulates what can take place on the property, since 2016. On Feb. 14, the city of Miami issued a new temporary use permit to Megan Holdings, a company managed by Mana that owns the vacant land.
But the following evening, Miami Police shut down Wynwood Marketplace after officers determined Swarm was not abiding by new restrictions outlined in the permit, including turning down the music volume at 11 p.m. and not allowing more than three food trucks at once to operate on the site. Swarm owner Tony Abelo plans to reopen Wynwood Marketplace next month, according to the Miami New Times.
On Feb. 20, Mana sent a text to Wynwood BID executive director Manny Gonzalez, blaming him for the police shutdown of Wynwood Marketplace, according to a screenshot of the message obtained from a Wynwood BID spokesperson. (Mana’s texts were first reported by local blogger Al Crespo).
“U made your bed and u will have to deal with the consequences with everyone who was behind u,” Mana wrote. “As long as u are on the bid, mana will not work with the bid members, until u are fired. I will do my best to get u out of our life.”
In a follow-up text sent to Gonzalez, Mana wrote: “u r out and wynwood bid will have to be dismantled…we own 45 acres of wynwood, we will decide who is heading the bid. Its not u, u r not qualified for this job.”
Mana also sent a threatening text on Feb. 21 to Dan Kerr, police commander of the Wynwood NET office. “We will take all possible steps to keep u out of our neighbourhood wynwood,” Mana wrote. “Our community will unify behind us to get u out…Again this is not a threat ,it just to give u heads up where we both stand.”
On Monday, Gonzalez emailed incoming City Manager Arthur Noriega, City Attorney Victoria Mendez, Mayor Francis Suarez and the city’s five elected commissioners requesting whistleblower protection and an investigation by the city’s auditor general into alleged violations at Wynwood Marketplace site and other properties in the neighborhood that have gone unenforced.
“Mana clearly demonstrates his ability to fire me along with others who oppose his illegal use of [temporary use permits],” Gonzalez wrote. “Those charged with protecting the citizens health, safety and welfare are equally being threatened including City of Miami Police Commander Dan Kerr.”