Two beloved cultural institutions in Wynwood that helped to popularize the neighborhood will be ceding their spaces to a large mixed-use development by the largest home builder in the U.S.
O Cinema Wynwood, the non-profit movie theater and art space that opened its doors at 90 NW 29th Street in Feb. 2011, and The Wynwood Yard, the pop-up culinary incubator and event/concert space that took over five vacant lots at 56 NW 29th Street in the fall of 2015, will be permanently closing their doors in the first half of 2019.
In their place will rise Wynwood Green, an 11-story, 189-unit apartment rental building with nearly 17,000 square feet of commercial/retail space and 324 parking spots.
Lennar Multifamily Communities, a division of the Miami-based home building giant Lennar Corp., has submitted plans to the City of Miami for the project, to be built on NW 29th Street between NW First and North Miami Avenues. The project would mark Lennar’s first apartment building within City of Miami limits.
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The city’s Urban Development Review Board approved the project’s design on Thursday. The Wynwood Design Review Committee, which evaluates new projects to ensure their designs reflect the character of the neighborhood, will weigh in on Sept. 11.
The project is expected to be approved by both boards.
Wynwood Green will occupy eight parcels of land totaling 1.26 acres. The property is currently owned by David Lombardi, principal/broker of Lombardi Properties, who began buying the parcels in 2003, before the neighborhood’s real estate values skyrocketed.
Lombardi confirmed the pending sale of the land but declined to reveal the price to the Herald. The transaction is scheduled to close in early 2019.
The Lennar project is the latest in a number of major office and residential developments that are planned or under construction in Wynwood, which spans 50 city blocks and was recently named one of the top hipster hangouts in the U.S. by Trip Advisor.
“The fact that the largest home builder in the country wants to build its first City of Miami multifamily project in Wynwood is a testament to the demand for residential living options in the neighborhood,” said Manny Gonzalez, executive director of the Wynwood Business Improvement District. “The addition of this project will help make Wynwood a place where the many people who work and enjoy the neighborhood daily will also soon be able to call it home.”
But the loss of Wynwood Yard and O Cinema is bound to stoke growing concerns that the gentrification of Wynwood is robbing the neighborhood of its character.
Della Heiman, co-founder and CEO of Wynwood Yard, said the space will permanently close its gates in the spring of 2019. She and Yard co-founder Ken Lyon are proceeding with plans and permitting to open a similar space, the North Beach Yard in the fall of 2019 on a lot at 81st Street and Collins Avenue owned by the City of Miami Beach.
“Built for our community, as a reflection of our community, The Wynwood Yard was created to support local entrepreneurs, celebrate Miami’s vibrant culture, and foster tolerance and diversity,” she said. “We truly don’t have the words to express our gratitude to the 200+ entrepreneurs, hundreds of partner organizations, and thousands of intensely loyal guests who’ve made The Yard their second home.”
Since its inception, the 112-seat O Cinema Wynwood, which was founded by a matching grant from the Knight Foundation, has played an instrumental role in the growth and celebration of Miami’s movie culture. The theater has regularly hosted filmmaker Q&As, retrospective and midnight screenings and events for the Borscht Corp. artists collective, the Popcorn Frights Film Festival, the Miami Film Festival and the Miami Jewish Film Festival, among others.
“It’s been a sheer privilege to be part of the renaissance of Wynwood over the past eight years, said Kareem Tabsch, who fo-counded O Cinema with Vivian Marthell. “While our time at our current location will come to an end in the spring of 2019, we’re excited for what the future holds for O Cinema and Wynwood alike.”
Tabsch said the O Cinema Miami Beach location at 500 71st Street will remain open, with some new programming initiatives soon to be announced.
“We’re working on some exciting growth and expansion plans for the coming year,” Tabsch said. “Change can be bittersweet. But it can also be exciting and we’re really looking forward to what’s coming next.”