Believe it or not, Wynwood was once a neighborhood full of gallerists, artists, and bars where people could smoke weed. That fact might surprise some folks who've recently moved to town — Wynwood nowadays is a gigantic real-estate scheme controlled by a few warring factions of developers looking to cash in on the sweet, sweet property they've acquired over the years after pushing out minorities and low-income residents.
But now that locals are voicing concerns that the neighborhood's nightlife has grown too rowdy and noisy for the people who still live nearby, the same developers are freaking out. Billionaire Moishe Mana, the largest landowner in the neighborhood, has been launching invectives at city leaders and demanding they stop cracking down on his establishments. The fight could lead to the stifling of the Magic City's largest tourism hot spot. Here's how the battle has gone down:
First, the Wynwood Marketplace, a Moishe Mana property, closed after the city issued the venue a new operating permit that was supposed to quiet the place. In February, Miami Police Commander Dan Kerr paid a visit to the Wynwood Marketplace, a huge outdoor bar and nightlife spot, and told its managers to shut the place down for the night. It was 10:45 — before the neighborhood's nighttime events really even get going.
The Marketplace — a mishmash of food trucks, drinking vendors, and late-night DJs — began as a temporary establishment, but it's essentially a permanent fixture in the area nowadays. The city says Mana and company have been violating their latest permit and ignoring an order to lower the music after 11 most nights. So the cops shut the place down.
Then Mana began circulating a petition full of falsehoods about the city "cracking down" on Wynwood businesses. After the Marketplace shutdown, a curious thing happened: Someone started a Change.org petition asking residents to, "Save Wynwood," because the city was allegedly trying to force all nightlife to close at 11 p.m. and stifle fun in the neighborhood. The claims were terrifying — but also exaggerated. It turns out more than 26,000 people had signed the petition without knowing that the folks organizing the campaign were, in fact, Mana and Tony Albelo, an event organizer who works with Mana.
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Also, other Wynwood businesses have complained that the city is beginning to issue scores of noise violations. The city recently hit Coyo Taco and 1-800-Lucky, two popular bars in the area, with a series of noise violations, for example, and owner Sven Vogtland says the crackdown has been neighborhood-wide.
"It's definitely a new thing none of us have felt before last week," Vogtland told New Times. "It’s kind of like a blanket across the neighborhood. It's been a challenge for our operations."
At two tense emergency neighborhood meetings, bar and club owners said they were frightened the city's newfound code-enforcement push would kill the area's nightlife. But residents said they're officially fed up with the noise. At one meeting, Vogtland said the city's new push to issue code violations to loud businesses could cause the closure of many popular bars and restaurants. Mana and Albelo demanded the Wynwood Business Improvement District (BID) be nixed. Bizarrely, Miami Commissioner Keon Hardemon claimed the BID meeting violated the state's Sunshine Law and said he had to leave without speaking.
Other business owners claimed city officials were conspiring with luxury developers to quiet the neighborhood and make it more palpable for residents. What's unclear is what might happen next — but any push to quiet the bars in the area could, in theory, turn Wynwood into the millennial version of Coconut Grove, a once-thriving nightlife spot now home to rich residents looking for a quiet night out.