"What's Next For Wynwood" Panel Devolves Into Petty Fighting and Personal Attacks

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The five-member panel included moderator Helen Kohen; realtor and neighborhood developer David Lombardi; arts marketing consultant Ilana Vardy; Wynwood Business Improvement District (BID) project director David Collins; and Wynwood gallerist Fredric Snitzer. The event, one of ArtTuesdays' regularly scheduled events at Books & Books, drew a sizable turnout; a Books & Books representative guessed attendance was in the hundreds.

ARTtuedays/MIAMI opened with a call for $10 donations to support the arts, and discussion broke as soon as Kohen finished passing around the collection basket.

"I just want to set up a couple of concepts for all of you to keep focus tonight, and we have to remember this is Miami, and we recognize and encourage arts neighborhoods, but we also profit, so remember that," said Kohen, art historian and program member of ARTtuesdays/MIAMI.

Next, David Lombardi took the microphone. President of Lombardi Properties and key member of the Wynwood Arts District Association (WADA), he's played a major role in the development of Wynwood equity.

"There's seven new food and beverage places being created in Wynwood. There are three breweries being built in Wynwood, one of which is being backed by Sam Adams out of Boston to create its own Miami brand of beer... There are new retail shops coming in. It's never been better," Lombardi said.

He also explained he took the bad-mouthing of businesses in Wynwood by its own gallerists in recent media as personal attacks, confronting panel member Snitzer for his comments in the Herald.

Vardi, an art consultant and program member of ARTtuesdays/MIAMI, countered Lombardi's optimism with concern for the survival of galleries as the district becomes more a space about entertainment and less about art. Snitzer complained Wynwood is no longer the place it once was.

Collins, executive director of the Coconut Grove Business Improvement District (BID), was brought in by WADA as a consultant in hopes of implementing structure in Wynwood by creating one of its own.

"Until you find a reason for a BID to exist, which is normally to solve problems and enhance strengths, you have to identify all that stuff or you're just making it up," he said. "My impression for Wynwood is that their problems are all solvable. A lot of them are solved by money, which businesses can put together by asking property owners to self-invest and pay a little more in assessments than they do now and to communally share better security. Wynwood is a place of incredible energy; it would be a huge mistake to not recognize this."

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Briana Saati