UPDATED, March 4, 4:20 p.m.: As Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and other elected officials urged a truce, Moishe Mana and current and former members of Wynwood Business Improvement District intensified their attacks on one another at competing meetings Tuesday.
In recent weeks, Mana sent messages threatening the Wynwood BID’s top administrator and a police commander, promising to have the city agency disbanded and helped launch an online campaign, “#SaveWynwood,” that claims “certain officials in Miami, under pressure and coercion from real estate developers, have taken steps to remove Wynwood’s status as an Arts & Entertainment district.” On Feb. 14, citing violations of a city noise ordinance and a temporary use permit, police officers closed down Wynwood Marketplace, a regular weekend event located in the six-acre Mana Wynwood complex at 2250 Northwest Second Avenue.
In response to Mana’s actions, the Wynwood BID held a public meeting Tuesday morning at The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse to “set the record straight” about Mana’s campaign. Among the more than a dozen speakers bashing Mana were some of the neighborhood’s prominent developers, including former members of the Wynwood BID board.
Jessica Goldman-Srebnick, CEO of Goldman Properties, which owns Wynwood Walls, Wynwood Garage and other landmark properties in the neighborhood, said it was unfortunate the rift between Mana and the Wynwood BID had escalated into an “unnecessary airing of dirty laundry.”
“I implore Mr. Mana to come to the table respectively with the entire community,” she said. “Everybody in this room has really contributed blood sweat and tears to make this community an example around the world of what an outstanding inclusive vibrant community can be. Everybody has to play by the rules.”
Joe Furst, founder and managing principal of Place Projects, which is co-developing the office building 545 Wyn, noted Mana won entitlements to build 3,500 residential units as part of a massive mixed-use project he’s planning on the 45 acres he owns in Wynwood. “It is a little bit confusing to me to start hearing now that residential is not part of the fabric of the neighborhood when massive entitlements Mana got in his property were for residential,” Furst said.
David Polinsky, principal of Fortis Design and Build, which developed the 250 Wynwood condominium, said the city also granted Mana’s project 33 percent more floor area than any other development in Wynwood and the right to build 24-story buildings despite zoning regulations that capped heights at 12 stories. “It’s been three and a half years since that special area plan was negotiated and I am not aware of a single building permit being applied for,” Polinsky said. “We all hope Mr. Mana will succeed in bringing the arts, entertainment, fashion, residential, office and food and beverage hub, but we have only seen temporary use permits so far.”
As the largest property owner in Wynwood and downtown Miami, Mana has promised to create an arts, entertainment and trade complex similar to Mana Contemporary, a sprawling mixed-use development he built in Jersey City with repurposed factories and warehouses. He has also claimed he plans to convert the city’s urban core into a Silicon Valley for Latin America.
Later in the afternoon, Mana hosted his own gathering where he took shots at the Wynwood BID and rival developers from a temporary stage erected on a parking lot adjacent from the shuttered Wynwood Marketplace. “We have a developer next to us who put a building in so cheap and now he wants me to shut down at 11 p.m.,” Mana said. “If a developer wants to build residential, God bless. But make better windows, better walls.”
He added: “And don’t come to this neighborhood after all the hard work we put in the last 12 years so you can put a building in the middle of it, fill [the building] and then sell it to the hedge funds.”
Mana insisted the #SaveWynwood campaign was not about the police shutting down the temporary event space after receiving complaints from the Wynwood BID and neighboring businesses. But he also compared his campaign to the Arab Spring, the series of uprisings and armed rebellions across the Middle East in the early 2010s. “The Arab Spring started when a man set himself on fire because they shut his cart down,” Mana said. “It got me to think about Wynwood, why did I come to Wynwood and why did I buy 45 acres?”
Mana said his redevelopment plans for Mana Wynwood are still on track. “We are going to build the cultural infrastructure hub that Miami needs so desperately in Wynwood,” he said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the building height increase Mana was given.