Last Saturday night, Wynwood Marketplace was poised for another busy weekend of tourists and locals gathering to drink, listen to music, and eat. Then officers from the Miami Police Department arrived. According to Tony Albelo, who operates Wynwood Marketplace through his company Swarm Inc., "Around 10:45 p.m., Commander Dan Kerr came over and said, 'You have to shut down.'"
Albelo says the shutdown occurred after the issuance of a new temporary operating permit (TUP), outlining updated restrictions, including lowering music after 11 p.m. and not allowing more than three food trucks at once to operate on the site. Albelo says he had never seen that version of the permit before that night.
He admits that he's the tenant and that the owner of the property — Moisha Mana, dba Megan Holdings LLC — is the applicant on record who was issued the permit February 14. But Albelo says Swarm's attorneys were in contact with the city "dozens of times" regarding the new permit, and he personally reviewed Wynwood Marketplace's site map with the city's zoning administrator to work on issues that needed to be corrected. A copy of the TUP, along with a rundown of a feud between Wynwood's key property owners, is posted on crespogramnews.com.
Albelo acknowledges issues with the property, but said Wynwood Marketplace's status as a temporary structure fell through some legal cracks. He says the concept, which began as a food truck roundup during Wynwood's Second Saturday art walk, simply grew out of demand and "lived in a gray area" while "terms like 'open-air retail,' 'SAPs (special area plans),' 'TUPs,' and 'special event permits' all floated around."
The event and marketing executive says the venue gives locals an affordable place to gather in an increasingly expensive city. "Wynwood Marketplace has no entry fee, hip local vendors, a great selection of food, and a popular nightlife spot. And for now, the Marketplace is closed."
The venue is also home to a series of high-profile events, including Octoberfest, a St. Patrick's Day celebration, HalloWyn, Basel House, and Wynwood Pride.
Albelo adds that the Marketplace employs about 100 people and also provides income for the food truck owners and vendors who sell their wares there. For now, these vendors must scramble for another site.
The Swarm executive says there's a bright side to the closure of Wynwood Marketplace. Though the signed TUP restricts the venue's music and the number of food trucks, it also gives his company a clear-cut direction in which to take the Marketplace. "The good thing is that there is a brand-new set of permits and plans that have been approved and signed off by the proper city officials, so no more gray area."
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Albelo's team is now working on an overhaul of the multiuse venue. "We're calling it the Marketplace Version 2.0, with new vendor spaces, upgraded restrooms, and more entertainment options."
The new iteration of Wynwood Marketplace will also offer large sculptures, artist pop-ups, and live art programming.
Albelo's goal is to have the new and improved venue running for the annual St. Patrick's Day celebration, which is only a few weeks away and for Wynwood Pride 2020, which is scheduled for June 12 through 14. "Wynwood Pride is so important for the community," Albelo says. "We're going to be ready to host it again."
Wynwood Marketplace. 2250 NW Second Ave., Miami; 305-461-2700; wynwood-marketplace.com.