PROBLEMS IN WYNWOOD
WHILE THE PROBLEMS WITH THE ZIKA MOSQUITO VIRUS IS THE ISSUE THAT FOCUSES EVERYONE'S ATTENTION ON WYNWOOD, THERE IS A FAR LARGER AND MORE SERIOUS ISSUE THAT COULD IMPACT THAT DISTRICT AND UNDERMINE ALL THE EFFORTS THAT WERE TAKEN TO DEVELOP COMMUNITY BASED CONTROL OVER DEVELOPMENT
AUGUST 25, 2016
Yesterday the Wynwood Business Development Board (BID) held an emergency meeting to discuss two important issues that are impacting the District.
The first issue was the persistent problems and confusing information coming from the Governor's office and elsewhere about the outbreak of the Zika virus. That was the issue that attracted the news media to show up.
Almost every local news outlet showed up, recorded that portion of the meeting, and then packed up and bolted for the door like a herd of elephants off to the next watering hole.
That was unfortunate, because what came next was an issue with far more lasting consequences for the Wynwood District, the City of Miami and the future of efforts by local groups to reign in unfettered development.
The issue deals with the efforts of the District's largest property owner, Moshi Mana, a billionaire who over the last year has been engaged in efforts to convert the large piece of property that he owns that stretches from NW 2 Avenue on the eastside to I-95 on the westside, that currently includes Mana Wynwood, a 38,000 square ft stage and an additional 100,000 of event space, into a larger 11 million square foot development that would include office space, retail, restaurants, a hotel, a plaza. a convention center and a 24 story tower.
In the negotiations with the Wynwood BID and the city, Mana's representations were that he would start construction at the eastside of his property - along NW 2nd Avenue where the building heights would be 8-10 foot, and progress westward building his larger buildings until he reached the western edge of his property where he would build his 24 story tower.
From the beginning there were concerns from various stakeholders in the area - and especially the BID members - who had devoted a great deal of time and effort in developing a Zoning Code for the District that limited the height of buildings to 12 stories.
In order to do what he wanted, Mana petitioned the City to create a Special Area Plan that would exempt him from some of the provisions of the new Zoning Code they had recently approved for the Wynwood District, and as part of effort, Mana and the BID had negotiated what they both agreed was a workable set of compromises, including a community benefits payment to the BID to help finance improvements for the District.
The proposal for a Special Area Plan had it's first reading before the City Commission in July, with the second and final reading scheduled on September 8th.
This is where things got squirrelly. As is often the case in development deals in Miami, the time between the first and second reading of these ordinances is where hanky and panky show up and by the time they're done, the language that appears in the ordinance for the second reading bears little if any resemblance to the language that the Commissioners voted on the first reading.
Of course, by then the presssure - if not the bribes, and other promises and special favors have already been committed and/or accepted - has created a situation where like a freight train barreling down the tracks, little if anything can be done to stop what had gone from an acceptable deal to a usually good deal for the developers and a bad deal for the citizens.
And that's what the discussion that took place at the Wynwood BID meeting yesterday was all about.
A deal that the Board members had thought was a done deal at the last minute - and that's another ploy that goes hand-in-hand with these kinds of deals - turned out not to be the same deal they had originally agreed to.
Rather than try to explain what the concerns of the BID members were, I think that everyone who reads this should make some time to look at the video, because it makes for facilitating watching.
First, the level of discussion puts to shame what passes for discussion on issues like this before the City Commission, who while supposedly entrusted to look out for and protect the public's interest, seldom if ever show up with the preparation, knowledge or intention to actually fight for the protection of the citizens like these guys did.
Imagine what kind of city Miami might be like if folks like this were on the City Commission instead of the bozos and morons that currently suck up the oxygen at City Hall?
Secondly, this is not a one-sided fight. The Mana representatives - Iris Escarra of Greenberg Traurig and Bernard Zyscovich, Mana's architect - make a spirited defense on some of the issues, and on the issue of how the approximately $10,000,000 in community benefit payments that were supposed to go to the BID was reduced to approximately $2,500,000, with the remainder going to the SEOPW CRA, after Mana's representatives had a meeting with Commissioner Hardemon makes for a revealing window - albeit a foggy one, lacking in the kind of specificity that I would like to know - as to how the Quo is reached. What I, and I think you might want to know is what was the Quid.
In any event, this was the news that the real news media in Miami didn't hang around to cover, because it's complicated, content heavy, and at the end of the day isn't as scary or sexy as mosquitos biting people, or as I say,
It's Miami, Bitches!
THE ZIKA PART OF THE MEETING