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I'm a business journalist and a fiction author. My novel Mute is available now from Silver Leaf Books.

Friday, September 18, 2015

New Wynwood could price out hipsters who made it thrive

In Miami real estate, you either sprint or fall on your face. There's no such thing as steady growth. So goes the case with Wynwood.

Creative planning by artists and local investors transformed the neighborhood from empty warehouses into a district with stunning street art, popular restaurants and bars and emerging retail.

It's expected that property values would grow to reflect the promise. Instead, many recent deals have given Wynwood higher valuations than established retail markets in wealthy areas, such as Coral Gables and Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale.

My print edition centerpiece in the South Florida Business Journal explores where the neighborhood is heading.

The fear of many is the higher property valuations will lead to expensive rents that will price out the artists and local businesses that made Wynwood so successful. I interviewed several property owners that said they would keep key local groups like Panther Coffee and artists, but they're investing tens of millions of dollars because they expect a substantial return from new tenants. Will those big money tenants change the hipster character of Wynwood? Can they sell enough goods to justify $80 per square foot in rent?

Certainly, the new zoning that Miami could finalize for Wynwood will increase the ability of developers to build apartments, condos and hotels there. They're targeted the young, creative professional class. However, it's important that homes in Wynwood are priced below those in areas such as downtown, Brickell and Edgewater. Construction costs aren't going to differ much between those neighborhoods so Wynwood developers will need to find a way to be less expensive for residents.

I'll tell you this about Wynwood, bring it up to any real estate professional in Miami and they're either all in or they won't touch it. There's no such thing as middle ground, or a steady pace, in Miami.