UPDATED, April 2, 2:10 p.m.: A city of Miami zoning overhaul of a traditionally single-family neighborhood just north of Wynwood is largely aimed at enticing affordable housing development in the area.
The Miami City Commission last week unanimously approved the Wynwood Norte Neighborhood Revitalization District, a zoning overlay that proponents claim will protect the community’s unique character, improve the area’s housing stock and create economic opportunities for small businesses and local residents.
Yoni Bornstein, president of the Wynwood Community Enhancement Association, said the goal of the new district is to improve the quality of life in the neighborhood at a time that out-of-town developers are planning and building new mixed-use projects. The overlay covers 140 acres bounded by Northeast and Northwest 29th Street and 36th Street between North Miami Avenue and Northwest Seventh Avenue.
It’s the second revitalization district Miami officials approved for Wynwood. The first one, approved in 2015, covers Wynwood from Northeast and Northwest 29th Street to 21st Street. It has allowed builders to redevelop industrial warehouses into office and apartment-oriented mixed-use projects.
“The NRD-2 is a much-needed intervention, respectful of the past with solutions for the future,” Bornstein said in a statement. “It’s about reinvesting in the schools, parks, safer streets, small businesses, and bringing back a healthy mix of housing affordable to working families.”
The Wynwood Norte district began taking shape in 2018, a year after Dallas-based Westdale Real Estate Investment Management submitted plans to build a 202-unit apartment complex with some office and commercial space on a 3.42-acre site on Northwest 29th Street between Northwest Second Avenue and Northwest Third Avenue.
When the Miami planning board voted in November 2017 to recommend a denial of the project, Westdale delayed its plans to work with residents, neighboring property owners and activists on the new overlay. At the time, city planners said Westdale’s proposed development would be inconsistent with Miami zoning code and that it would alter the character of the neighborhood due to the surrounding residential homes.
According to the Wynwood Community Enhancement Association, restrictive zoning and rising land values have produced little new housing construction, and have led to an exodus of long-time local businesses and residents in Wynwood Norte. The neighborhood’s main street, Northwest Second Avenue, is lined with vacant lots and no new buildings have gone up for more than 10 years, the association claims.
The new zoning overlay provides developers with greater capacity to build on the 140 acres if they provide new affordable housing and help pay for community enhancements, such as new street lighting, trees and sidewalks. It also gives Miami-Dade County’s housing agency, which owns several acres in the neighborhood, the ability to add more affordable and workforce housing.
So far, some developers have broken ground on major mixed-use projects in Wynwood Norte. New York-based R & B Realty Group is expected to be the first to complete one, the office and retail complex Gateway at Wynwood, later this year.
The project at 2916 North Miami Avenue will have 220,000 square feet of Class A office space and 25,900 square feet of retail.
L&L Holding Co., another New York developer, teamed up with Carpe Real Estate Partners to to redevelop 15 parcels, including the former Rubell Family Collection property on Northwest 29th Street and First Avenue, into an 800,000-square-foot mixed-use project. Carpe is also developing The Oasis in Wynwood, a 72,000-square-foot retail, entertainment and office project that will be the new South Florida headquarters for Spotify. The Oasis is currently under construction on 3 acres on the northeast corner of Northwest 23rd Street and North Miami Avenue.
Jamil Lacourt, L&L’s executive vice-president, spoke in favor of the Wynwood Norte Neighborhood Revitalization District at last week’s commission meeting. “I am excited about the community-driven process in developing this new legislation, in particular its incentives for affordable housing, community gardens, micro-retail and pedestrian-oriented development,” Lacourt said. “This is a very positive moment for the community.”
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly described L&L Holding’s project and the location of The Oasis in Wynwood.