Some Wynwood developers are expressing concerns about Moishe Mana’s bold plan to transform his 30 acres in Miami’s hottest neighborhood into a massive tech and entertainment-focused mixed-use site, as he seeks exemptions to recently approved zoning regulations they helped craft for more than a year.
At a planning committee meeting for the Wynwood Business Improvement District, Mana’s attorney Iris Escarra and the developer’s architect Bernard Zyscovich pitched BID members on Mana’s project, a gargantuan 9 million-square-foot development that will offer commercial space for tech and international trade companies, as well as include retail shops, restaurants, bars, an auditorium, a hotel and 2,500 residential units. The plan would also include roughly 168,000 square feet of public open space.
Mana, who also attended the meeting, called it his “legacy” project. He is seeking the BID’s support for the project’s special area plan, an instrument that allows developers who own more than nine acres of contiguous land to apply for multiple zoning variances at one time.
“I feel we are an important part of the neighborhood,” Mana said. “We want your help to complete what we started.”
However, some BID members questioned why Mana is seeking to create his own master plan that includes rezoning portions of his massive development site to build taller residential towers than are currently allowed, as well as bypassing other new zoning guidelines for 204 acres in Wynwood that went into effect in October by the city commission.
The new regulations created the city’s first Neighborhood Revitalization District, reclassifying most of the industrial uses into commercial and residential ones, as well as requiring developers to go before a building design advisory board and contribute to a dedicated fund for neighborhood improvements, such as providing more parking and public transportation.
David Polinsky, the BID planning committee chairman and managing director of 250 Wynwood, which has recently completed an 11-unit residential building at Northwest 24th Street and 2nd Avenue, said none of the strict requirements would apply to Mana’s project if his plan is approved. “Mana wants to be a part of the Wynwood BID and vice versa,” Polinsky said. “But quite frankly, the existing draft of the special area plan doesn’t have strong linkages on an ongoing basis to make sure that occurs.”
Jonathon Yormak and Albert Price, two other BID members, suggested the special area plan would give Mana a leg up on other Wynwood developers. “I hope it doesn’t sap the life of what everyone else is trying to do here,” said Yormak, whose company East End Capital co-owns seven acres in Wynwood. “It needs to be done in a way where Wynwood is not cannibalized.”
Price, a principal of Bazbaz Development, which is building a mixed-used site at 2110 North Miami Avenue, said Mana is effectively creating a new neighborhood that would compete with Wynwood. “We love the vision of the project,” Price said. “But we look at it and say, ‘why are you getting an unfair advantage in this other corner of Wynwood?’”
In response to the concerns, Mana insisted his project is not going to compete with other developments. “It’s absolutely not true,” Mana told the BID members in attendance. “There is no competition. We are going to complete the neighborhood.”
Before the meeting concluded, Polinsky requested that Mana and his representatives consider incorporating some of the Neighborhood Revitalization District requirements, such as contributing to the Wynwood benefits fund and seeking the approval of the design advisory board. He also asked that Mana provide BID members with copies of the draft development agreement with the city of Miami at the full board’s meeting in two weeks.