For a while now, I have been thinking that the end is near. Since there is no such profession as an actual “future of the neighborhood” fact checker, the question remains — is the end of Wynwood near? Let’s say that a little perspective is in order.
First, it is entirely fair dinkum to assume that some of our reading population does not know what I’m talking about. If you have a decent relationship with your college-age children and they have tats, piercings, or an inclination to speak of craft beer, GMOs or baristas, you are aware of the district near Midtown where Art Basel spinoffs and graffiti artists began digging in about a dozen years ago, thanks to a desire, a need and a beloved pioneer named Tony Goldman. If you have never visited Wynwood, perhaps this analogy will do.
Remember the time before Ocean Drive was reborn. Art Deco structures populated a mostly decrepit, neglected stretch of what would become really valuable real estate between South Fifth and 15th Streets on South Beach. Like a phoenix, it became grand in a short time after having fallen into Scarface disrepair. On the other hand, today it is a desperate, immature, ugly 20 something visited by most of us only when our least sophisticated relatives make that once in a lifetime visit to South Florida and want to have a drink at the Clevelander.
Illustration two is Lincoln Road, still pleasant though no one I know goes there very much any more because it’s too crowded (thank you Groucho Marx for the joke). With the recent opening of European mass market God H&M, the transformation is virtually complete and fully corporatized. If you are a small business, I’ve got two words for you — side streets — because as former New York mayoral candidate Jimmy McMillan squealed, “The rent is too damn high.”
So while I am certainly ahead of myself, simultaneously I am not. Adjacent to Wynwood, the Design District has added Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Dior and Prada. Hello Design District. Goodbye Bal Harbor (and its claustrophobia). Target lives alongside Loehmann’s, Supercuts, Foot Locker and Subway in Midtown Miami, also next to Wynwood, so can you hear the clock ticking yet? Hipsters, artists and franchises do not mix!
I am not complaining as it is inevitable for change to occur, but the folks who were first to the dance — those with bikes and spray cans, will soon be stopped by the new bouncer they used to tag walls with. That said, Wynwood is entering its next transformation and expect the avalanche to occur much more quickly than you think. Food trucks and their generators quickly wear out their welcome when Northwest 2nd Avenue is bumper to bumper and the masses prefer tee shirts to canvases.
When this occurs in the next few years, some will be disappointed; but fret not, the transformation will continue elsewhere. Until then, though, you might want to check out Model City or Little Haiti. My money is on whether anyone can spell Allapattah.
Carl Rachelson is a teacher at Palmer Trinity School and a regular contributor to the Pinecrest Tribune. He may be contacted by addressing email to firstname.lastname@example.org