Wynwood's Second Saturday Art Walk has been around for years, but Tony Albelo, CEO of Swarm Inc., is planning a big change. For two years, Albelo and his team have been organizing what he refers to as the "hub" of Art Walk at the Mana Wynwood lot off NW Second Avenue. Every four weeks, the company brings in food trucks, DJs, performances, you name it.
Now, ahead of the monthly event this Saturday, Albelo and his team have announced they're relocating their part of Art Walk from NW Second Avenue to NW Fifth Avenue.
What began as a night for galleries in the area to stay open late and welcome guests with a glass of wine has turned into a street party.
"Art Walk is something that organically happened with all the galleries along NW Second Avenue," the Swarm CEO says, "but what a lot of people consider the main hub of the event is the food trucks and entertainment happening at the center at the Mana Wynwood lot."
The event draws thousands of attendees every month, and though some enjoy the late-night hours of the galleries, many head for the food trucks and bars. But everyone agrees parking and traffic suck. Second Avenue is only two lanes and there are many pedestrian crossing. On weekend nights, it's congested and filled with cars honking and drivers trying to cut each other off.
"We're big on social media, and what I mean by that is we like to listen to people and hear what they're talking about," Albelo continues. "One of the biggest complaints we read about is parking and traffic.
"The traffic and lack of parking really turn people off, and we don't like that."
The move to Fifth Avenue was primarily inspired by offering attendees more parking options and wider lanes of traffic. "The four traffic lanes are more comfortable for drivers and pedestrians," Albelo says.
"We've been talking to a lot of business and Wynwood stakeholders, and a lot of people feel that Fifth Avenue... is a better location for Second Saturday Art Walks.
"Fifth Avenue has everything you love about Wynwood and Art Walk, just in a more comfortable spot."
Part of the allure of Second Saturday Art Walk is that some of the galleries along Second Avenue stay open a bit longer to accommodate the crowds. Fifth Avenue, referred to as the Fashion District, houses more empty warehouse spaces and discount clothing stores than art galleries. Albelo doesn't know if any of these stores will remain open Saturday night, but he says there are more vacant spaces than fully operational stores. "There's a big push from the Mana Wynwood people who want to revitalize the empty stores along Fifth Avenue, so we're hoping by moving [our part of] Art Walk over, it helps the neighborhood. Lots of positives can come out of this move."
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Whereas people would normally visit Wynwood Saturday and stay on Second Avenue between 20th and 27th streets, Albelo hopes to encourage more exploration. "People can start their night at the food truck hub on Fifth Avenue and then continue their night and go explore.
"We want to shrink Wynwood — we want there not to be a disconnect between Second Ave. and Fifth Ave. or even North Miami Ave. People don't like change, but our vision is to make Wynwood smaller and showcase Fifth Ave. and make Second Saturday more accessible for everyone.
"It's going to be a learning curve for the next few months, but in the end, people are going to see the vision. I mean, people were afraid of electricity at first," he jokes.
Second Saturday Art Walk
Saturday, March 12, starting at the corner of NW 23rd Street and NW Fifth Avenue. It's free to attend. Visit theswarmeffect.com.