It's been happening for a while.
The rent in Wynwood has doubled, tripled, and even quadrupled in some places, forcing many gallerists to move elsewhere. The issue is has divided the community, as a recent panel discussion that turned nasty recently illustrated.
Here's what's certain: Wynwood is no longer just an arts neighborhood. It's an arts and entertainment district. New restaurants and nightlife spots continue to pop up. This trend will not stop, and that's been the developers' plan for years. No, Wynwood is not yet a raging success. Aside from the madness of its Second Saturday Art Walks, the neighborhood is still relatively quiet 29 days out of the month. But as its success continues to build, two things are happening: the developers who built Wynwood are staying put, and many small business owners, most of which are art galleries, appear to be on their way out.
Will these galleries take the pulse, energy and soul of the neighborhood with them? And more importantly, where are they going?
Allapattah / West of Wynwood / Little Vista
There is a no-man's land on NW Seventh Avenue, a few blocks west of the heart of Wynwood. There are warehouses, used car dealerships, a tow yard. The area is big and airy, and the rent nice and cheap. Could this be the next hub of the Miami art community?
It's already proven to be a fertile ground for the arts. In 2008, OHWOW (Our House West of Wynwood) opened a studio on NW 31st Street and Seventh Avenue. They had the foresight to see their location was close to all the action, underground enough to get the cool kids there, and cheaper than Wynwood. (OHWOW has since relocated to L.A., definitely west of Wynwood.)
Francisco De La Torre, a new player in the "west of Wynwood" area, used to operate Butter Gallery in the middle of Wynwood. He moved out about a year ago. "They doubled my rent," he explained. "I'm friends with the owner of my old building. I get it. He came to me and said, 'Paco, this is what the place is worth. Can you do it?' and I said, 'No thanks, that's too much for me.'"
De La Torre recently remodeled a warehouse at NW 29th Street and Seventh Avenue. The building used to be a bike shop; now it's poised to be a hot destination for locals. He owns the property and is renting the space to others, most of whom have Wynwood ties. Those sharing or soon to be sharing his space include Wynwood Radio, Spinello Projects, I Heart 305, and a warehouse outlet of Panther Coffee.
"I promised I will never raise their rent, and we're doing it," explains De La Torre.