Negotiations on a new 24-acre development in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood came down to the wire Thursday -- literally.
In a last-minute deal that earned the approval of Miami commissioners, the Mana Wynwood development group agreed to pay as much as $25 million to bury unsightly power lines on its property and throughout Wynwood. If the power lines aren’t buried within five years, Mana Wynwood will pay into a fund to help the Wynwood neighborhood with infrastructure improvements.
The effort will increase public benefits to the Wynwood neighborhood -- a particularly important point for Wynwood leaders who have been negotiating with the development group over the past 14 months.
In past weeks, leaders of the Wynwood Business Improvement District have said they were not willing to formally support the development project unless Mana Wynwood provided additional benefits to the neighborhood.
Originally, Mana Wynwood had planned to provide approximately $10 million in cash benefits to Wynwood, but -- at the request of city commissioners and much to the frustration of BID leaders -- reallocated $7 million of that money to the Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency.
Getting commissioners' approval "has taken an additional year beyond what we wished, so we're just happy that it's done," said Bernard Zyscovich, an architect who's working as a planner and representative for Mana. "We can now begin to move forward."
Wynwood BID leaders also expressed satisfaction with the approved plan and developer Moishe Mana.
“Mr. Mana has committed to making significant investments in the South Florida economy and Wynwood looks forward to welcoming the various arts, cultural and global trade institutions that this project is intended to attract," Wynwood BID chairman Joseph Furst said in a statement. The deal, he said, "adheres to the promises Mr. Mana made to Wynwood and further enhances the public benefits received by the community."
As part of the deal, Mana Wynwood will have the option to build exhibition spaces and offices up to 24 stories tall on the western side of its property. That's significantly higher than most of the buildings currently in Wynwood -- a fact that's been concerning to Wynwood BID leaders who thought tall buildings might change the neighborhood's character.
Ultimately, in exchange for the right to "build tall," Mana Wynwood agreed to pay into a Wynwood public benefits fund for square footage above what's typical in the neighborhood. It also will follow a phasing plan where cultural and educational buildings on the east side of its property must be built in proportion to the buildings on the west side. And -- in keeping with the request by Commissioner Keon Hardemon -- it will provide more than $7 million dollars in public benefits to the Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency.
Zyscovich said potential investors have begun expressing interest in the development.