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Wynwood's New Business Improvement District Promises Fewer Car Break-Ins, Cleaner Streets

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Everyone in Miami has an opinion about Wynwood's development. It's either too raw or too gentrified, too commercialized or too crowded, with too few rules or too many. And as the area continues to evolve, business owners and area residents have clashed over plans for its future.

But a vote earlier this month served to create a Business Improvement District, or BID. Encompassing the area between 20th to 29th Streets and between NW Fifth Ave. and the railroad tracks near North Miami Avenue, the BID can assess levies from businesses within it to raise funds for community improvement.

See also:

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

The BID could raise as much as $700,000 for Wynwood, the Miami Herald reports. The efforts to create a BID were led by the Wynwood Arts District Association (WADA).

The idea of creating a BID in Wynwood has been a controversial one since January, when a panel held to discuss the future of Wynwood turned nasty. Gallery owners complained that a BID would serve only to gentrify the area and ultimately price out the art spaces that created its popularity. But David Lombardi, an active WADA member and president of Lombardi Properties, blamed Wynwood galleries for holding back development of the neighborhood: "The problem is the galleries don't communicate with each other ... There is an elitist, nauseating mentality that doesn't promote business."

When the BID issue finally came to a vote, held by mail between April 29 and May 31 and in person on June 4 at Wynwood Walls, supporters won out, with 274 votes in favor of the BID. Just 28 land owners voted no, while another 116 owners didn't vote at all. (The 116 missing ballots were counted as opposing the BID.)

Now, WADA members say, the real work begins.

"Supplemental security is the highest priority of this BID,'' Wynwood Business Improvement District (BID) project director David Collins told the Herald. "It's as much to do with the perception of feeling safe. People park on side streets and there is a history of car break-ins. That will come to a screeching halt.''

WADA members also promised that the new BID would work to make the streets cleaner and more palatable to visitors and business investors. But notably absent from its predictions was a mention of fostering the artists and gallery owners who are already feeling the squeeze as property prices in the area rise. Whether the BID will work for its arts community remains to be seen.

Follow Ciara LaVelle on Twitter @ciaralavelle.

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