Real Estate

Wynwood's Identity Crisis: As Soaring Rents Shutter Galleries, Parking Garages and Luxury Stores Take Their Place

In Wynwood, even the sky often seems spray-painted. On a recent evening, two young women were suspended in midair on metal scaffolding, masks over their mouths, aerosol cans in their hands. As the setting sun shifted heaven's hues above them, the women unleashed waves of color onto a white warehouse wall. When the two disappeared after dark, they left glittering letters behind them: "I REMEMBER PARADISE."

The message is no idle metaphor. Soaring rents have forced several Wynwood art galleries to shut or move miles away. Lester's, a beloved local bar, just closed. Buildings blanketed with years of graffiti are being torn down for new stores, including a Ducati dealership. Wynwood -- a street artist's paradise for the past ten years -- is rapidly changing.

"I don't want to see Wynwood die," says Danilo Gonzalez, an artist and owner of the Art Place, a gallery and café at Northwest Second Avenue and 28th Street. "If all the galleries and artists leave, then this will become just another mall like Lincoln Road or Bal Harbour. You can go shopping anywhere. There's nothing unique about that."

See also: Wynwood Bar Owners Claim That Cops and Downtown Clubs Are Conspiring Against Them

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Michael E. Miller was a staff writer at Miami New Times for five years. His work for New Times won many national awards, including back-to-back-to-back Sigma Delta Chi medallions. He now covers local enterprise for the Washington Post.