The site of the future Wynwood Gateway Park.Up until now, the farthest you've ventured north in Wynwood is probably the corner of NW 29th Street and Second Avenue -- right up to the new Ducati showroom. The few blocks on the other side of the street? It's the kind of area your mom always warned you not to roll through once upon a time. But that may change, thanks to a new project: the Wynwood Gateway Park Competition.
Metro 1, a real estate company that focuses on urban development, and DawnTown, a non-profit that promotes architecture in Miami, have partnered to invite competitors of all backgrounds to plot out 14,000 square feet of public green space at 169-179 NW 28 St. that could include elements of urban farming, art, landscape, and music.
The guidelines aren't tightly bound, and Metro 1 has a laissez-faire attitude about what the space will be, preferring the designer to dictate. "We're enlisting the ideas from all creative types," says Stacy Glassman, vice president of marketing and business development at Metro 1. "It's pretty democratic in spirit, and we're open to see what that kind of person can imagine for this space."
They aren't, however, without a vision. "We want to inspire other developers to dedicate green spaces in their communities," says Glassman. "We want it to be a gathering place for the people in Wynwood and that the city of Miami can enjoy." They envision it as the kind of place where you can catch up on a good book, strike a few downward dogs, and have a family picnic.
The portfolios submitted for the project will be reviewed by five panelists, including Tony Cho, president and CEO of Metro 1; Andrew Frey, founder of DawnTown; and Enrique Norten, principal at TEN Arquitectos. The winning team will have its design realized and win $10,000. No budget has been set for the project, which gives the competitors an infinite canvas to produce the park of their dreams.
Up to now, with the exception of a few galleries and multi-use spaces that are used mostly during Basel and other Miami festivals, that pocket of Wynwood hasn't seen much foot traffic, save for the residents who actually live there. Would a park of this nature be welcome on that side of 29th Street?
"It's just going to bring business to the neighborhood. That's good!" says chef George Patrice of Palatino Restaurant, a small Jamaican joint located just a block away from where the complex will be located. "It's going to provide jobs and get some [people] out of the street. But if it's going to bring a bunch of drug addicts and beggars, then no. "
It's a project that doesn't seem to bother business owners on the other side of the road either, including ones who have witnessed Wynwood's turnaround from the comfort of their doorsteps. "As far as the park goes, it doesn't bother me. I'd rather see businesses, but I have no say in it," says Dennis Lehman, owner of Lehman Pipe Co., who now owns the land on which his business has sat for 66 years.
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Seldom do parks and green spaces bring about upheavals, but this one, which extends beyond the area that's so frequented by tourists, art walk-goers, and people who just want to be a part of this new artistic community, signals a change that could make Wynwood more friendly to the wave of residents that will soon be residing in multi-use spaces like the newly begun Wynwood Central building. This change could cause rent prices to spike in the future. But community use projects like these seem to be welcomed in Wynwood, especially by business owners like Lehman.
"If somebody would have told me 10 years ago that Wynwood would be what it is today, I would have sent them to Chattahoochee and had them committed," he says. "I would have said you're out of your mind, but change is exciting here."