Wynwood Walls

Format
Brief

City
Miami

State/Province
FL

Country
USA

Metro Area
Miami

Project Type
Special Use

Location Type
Other Central City

Land Uses
Cultural Use
Event Space
Museum
Restaurant
Retail

Keywords
Creative placemaking
Outdoor museum
Redevelopment
ULI Global Awards for Excellence Winner 2016
Urban graffiti art
Wall art
Warehouses

Site Size
1.65 acres
acres hectares

Date Started
2004

Date Opened
2009

A brief is a short version of a case study.

Wynwood Walls is a collection of six privately owned warehouses that flank previously abandoned land used for junk storage and garbage in the urban core of Miami. In creating Wynwood Walls, the building facades were transformed into canvases and the open land area was converted to a gallery floor. The result is an outdoor “museum of the streets” by developer and placemaker Tony Goldman of Goldman Properties. It is one of the largest concentrated public displays of world-class street art, including more than 30 major works of art on giant wall canvases produced by internationally acclaimed artists from more than 15 countries. The Walls surround and encompass 1.65 acres of land that now provide multiple areas for the public to enjoy, free of charge. The Wynwood Walls is the primary catalyst behind the transformation of Wynwood into one of the hottest new creative and culturally significant neighborhoods in the United States.

The Walls now stand as the heart of the neighborhood and the destination for locals and tourists alike. After only a few years of development, Wynwood has transformed into one of the most walkable, creative, and exciting experiences in the Miami area. Wynwood has been rated one of the coolest neighborhoods with an exceptional street scene by many well-regarded sources such as Vogue, Forbes, and Cushman & Wakefield.

Aerial view of the Wynwood Walls project looking southwest. (Jenner Furst)
Aerial view of the Wynwood Walls project looking southwest. (Jenner Furst)

Introduction

In the early 2000s, Wynwood was much like many other industrial urban neighborhoods that had fallen on hard times. It had its share of failed manufacturing businesses, abandoned warehouses, and crime. At night, it was dark, gritty, and desolate, and pedestrian
activity was nonexistent. The natural vocabulary of the community could be found in hand-painted signs, graphics, and graffiti—the language of the streets.

Enter Tony Goldman. Rather than work to erase what others considered blight, he envisioned a place that highlighted what made Wynwood authentic and that could provide a place for the creative class to congregate, explore, and be inspired. In 2009, the Wynwood Walls project was born. Since that time, it has helped ignite an art movement, elevating street art to a genre that is now respected by many art lovers and appreciated as pop culture. The Wynwood Walls project has become a mecca for street art in the United States, with artists from around the world seeking to be invited to display their talent to the hundreds of thousands of people who visit every year. The continuation of the Wynwood Walls legacy is an ongoing passion for the Goldman family.

Site plan. (Goldman Properties)
Site plan. (Goldman Properties)

The Site and Background

Wynwood Walls was developed by Goldman Properties, described on the company website as a “boutique real estate and hospitality company, specializing in revitalizing neighborhoods thru creative ideas, leadership, passion and commitment.” The company was founded in New York by Tony Goldman in 1968, and its first development efforts began with the rejuvenation of 15 properties on the Upper West Side in Manhattan. Goldman began developing in the Miami area in 1982, in Coconut Grove, and in 1985 Goldman began rejuvenating 18 properties in the historic Art Deco architectural district of Miami Beach.

The site and area for Wynwood was previously a dilapidated gravel parking lot located behind six underused industrial warehouses, adjoining a junkyard filled with broken-down heavy equipment, barbed wire, and waste. In 2002 the Art Basel fair began in Miami, and in the early 2000s a number of art galleries opened in the neighborhood, and an art scene began to emerge.

Goldman acquired the 1.56-acre Wynwood Walls site over a period of years starting in 2004, with substantial assemblage of the site by February 2007; the firm added additional parcels as recently as July 2015. Construction began on Wynwood Walls in August 2009, and the project opened in November 2009.

Development costs for the project totaled approximately $3.5 million. Revenue for the Wynwood Walls is generated from the retail, the two restaurants, and rental of the outdoor space for events.


Entrance to Wynwood Walls along NW Second Avenue. (Andrew Meade)
Entrance to Wynwood Walls along NW Second Avenue. (Andrew Meade)

Guests hanging out in one of the grassy areas. (Martha Cooper)
Guests hanging out in one of the grassy areas. (Martha Cooper)

Planning and Design

The original Wynwood Walls site is roughly square in shape and includes numerous buildings arranged in four building groups. The signature building at the corner of NW 26th Street and NW Second Avenue houses the Wynwood Kitchen and Bar, and includes art on both the front and back of the building. An L-shaped building configuration along NW Second Avenue and NW 25th Street includes Joey’s Italian Café and the Go! Shop at the Wynwood Walls Shop. Two other buildings face NW 26th Street and NW 25th Street respectively. The property encompasses 25,000 square feet for retail, gallery, and restaurant space within these former warehouse buildings.

Inside the Walls, featuring Wynwood Kitchen and Bar, and patio. (Matt Stock)
Inside the Walls, featuring Wynwood Kitchen and Bar, and patio. (Matt Stock)

The Wynwood Doors site was later added to this original site, on the western edge, and Wynwood Garden was added later, further to the west. The Wynwood Walls Garden House stands at the western edge of the Gardens parcel.

The plan also features 40,000 square feet of open and event space interspersed among these buildings, with walls serving as the canvas for the art at Wynwood Walls. This open space is open to the public for free, but is also rented out for special events.

The plan and design of the overall project were developed by Goldman together with DNB Design Group, which worked on the restaurants and retail, and Plusurbia, which worked on the garden area. Goldman tapped art curator Jeffrey Deitch to help curate the first collection of murals composed of 18 walls in the development, and upon Mr. Goldman’s death in 2012, the curation and evolution of the Wynwood Walls has been taken over by his daughter Jessica Goldman Srebnick, CEO of Goldman Properties.

The Wynwood Walls Garden area and the Garden Shop building. (Will Graham)
The Wynwood Walls Garden area and the Garden Shop building. (Will Graham)

There is no on-site parking, but street and off-site parking is available.

Market Acceptance and Performance

The Wynwood Walls project lays to rest the debate about whether art can change a neighborhood. The incorporation of art into a development project—whether through unique architecture, design, sculpture, or otherwise—should be considered a “best practice” in development. Broad market acceptance of the Wynwood Walls project as a “game changer” that has made a positive impact on the community is readily apparent in many significant respects.

First, in the past five years, real estate values in Wynwood have appreciated dramatically, with numerous properties increasing in value tenfold over that time span; rents for industrial space have also increased substantially on NW Second Avenue and throughout the neighborhood. As of early 2017, property has changed hands at a price of approximately $1,000 per square foot, a number that would never have been imaginable about ten years ago. Rental rates have also increased. Prime space on NW Second Avenue ranges from $80 a square foot upwards to around $120 a square foot for prime space neighboring or in proximity to the Walls.

Second, in 2009 there was only one restaurant of note in the immediate neighborhood; now there are more than 30. Restaurants on the site include Joey’s Italian Café, the first restaurant to open in the Wynwood Arts District, and Wynwood Kitchen and Bar, an art-filled restaurant serving global-Latin cuisine. Both restaurants are owned and operated by the Goldman family. Wynwood Kitchen and Bar grossed $1.8 million in revenue in its first year of operation; in 2016, it did $5.8 million in gross revenue.

The streetfront along NW Second Avenue. (Martha Cooper)
The streetfront along NW Second Avenue. (Martha Cooper)

Third, more than 450,000 visitors entered the Wynwood Walls in 2015, with TripAdvisor ranking Wynwood Walls number five of 215 “things to do” in Miami. And in February 2016, Thrillist.com ranked Wynwood Walls the number-one most Instagrammed place in Miami (ahead of Miami International Airport, Vizcaya, the American Airlines Arena, and Lincoln Road).

Fourth, Wynwood Walls attracts artists from nations all over the world, including China, Greece, Brazil, Chile, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States. This, combined with Art Basel, has positioned Miami as one of the most important cities in the art world for art collectors and has cemented Miami’s status as one of the world’s great international destinations.

Fifth, the Wynwood neighborhood has become an epicenter for the creative class, with startups, tech companies, coworking spaces, and specialty real estate agents vying for space, and national and international real estate investors committing significant dollars to the Wynwood market. Rolando Aedo, chief marketing officer for the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) GMCVB, notes the success: “The vibrancy and excitement that was once limited to South Beach has spilled over to many parts of the community. Nowhere is that more apparent than in Wynwood. . . . It has become a must-see, must-do stop for our tourists, our convention delegates, and our journalists alike.”

Visitors strolling and lingering within the casual environment of Wynwood Walls. (Martha Cooper)
Visitors strolling and lingering within the casual environment of Wynwood Walls. (Martha Cooper)

Wynwood Walls includes numerous small and boutique retailers, with tenants such as the Peter Tunney Experience, the artist’s Miami gallery; Jugofresh, a locally grown juice bar; Frangipani, a store offering a selection of unique gifts; Warby Parker, the socially conscientious eyewear company; Marine Layer, a quality-minded clothing company; the Wynwood Walls Shop, a gift shop with a curated selection of items inspired by and made by the artists featured in the Wynwood Walls; and the Goldman Global Arts Gallery, a gallery dedicated to promoting and selling the works of acclaimed artists showcased in the Wynwood Walls.

The open space is used for visitors to walk around and enjoy the art, but the Goldman Global Arts Gallery and the Garden House are additionally used as event space.

Since opening, an entire industry has been born of cultural tours of the neighborhood and the Wynwood Walls. In addition, Wynwood Walls attracts many educational field trips where art classes are held in the open space and in the gallery space. With over 1.2 million visitors to the Walls in 2016, the Walls bring foot traffic to a neighborhood not previously seen or imagined, and has garnered international press attention from the New York Times, BBC News, and Forbes. In February 2017, American Way magazine wrote of Wynwood: “From no-go zone to must-see destination – one of the most dramatic urban success stories in the U.S.”

Artist Alexis Díaz painting his mural in the Wynwood Doors area while visitors look on and snap photos. (Martha Cooper)
Artist Alexis Díaz painting his mural in the Wynwood Doors area while visitors look on and snap photos. (Martha Cooper)

Observations and Lessons Learned

Art of all types can be a powerful force in real estate. The Wynwood Walls street art concept started the transformation of this once-forgotten neighborhood, turning it into a hot global destination while also stimulating new business and job creation. The Wynwood Walls can be seen as a prime example of creative placemaking and the arts, and has influenced other creative and meaningful projects around the country and the world.

The concept and execution of the Wynwood Walls space have elevated the entire genre of street art, provided free access to world-class art, and fostered an international appreciation for the value of public art and neighborhood revitalization. The Wynwood Walls project has been instrumental in fostering and developing a new art movement.

Wynwood Walls continues to grow every year, bringing new murals and installations for the public to enjoy in addition to new retail components and evolving programming—
including music, dance, and film—that further enhances the visitor’s experience. It is the developer’s goal for the Wynwood Walls to be a catalyst for change—not only in the way people think and how they view art, but also in how they experience their surroundings.

Project Information

Development timeline 
Art Basel Fair began in Miami2002
Site acquisition begins2004
Site substantially acquiredFebruary 2007
Joey's Italian Café opened2008
Construction startedAugust 2009
Project openedNovember 2009
Wynwood Kitchen and Bar opened2010
Wynwood Walls Shop opened2012
Latest land acquiredJuly 2015

Land use planSite area (sq ft)% of Site
Buildings 25,000 35
Streets/surface parking5001
Open space/landscaping 40,000 56
Other 6,500 9
Total site area 72,000 100
Total site acreage1.65

Development cost information 
Total development cost $3,500,000

Wynwood Kitchen and Bar gross revenues 
Year 1 (opened in 2010) $1,800,000
2016 $5,800,000

City
Miami

State/Province
FL

Country
USA

Metro Area
Miami

Project Type
Special Use

Location Type
Other Central City

Land Uses
Cultural Use
Event Space
Museum
Restaurant
Retail

Keywords
Creative placemaking
Outdoor museum
Redevelopment
ULI Global Awards for Excellence Winner 2016
Urban graffiti art
Wall art
Warehouses

Site Size
1.65 acres
acres hectares

Date Started
2004

Date Opened
2009

Website

www.thewynwoodwalls.com

Project address

2520 NW Second Avenue
Miami, FL 33127

Developer

Goldman Properties
Miami, Florida 

Architects/designers

Goldman Properties

DNB Design Group

Plusurbia

ULI Staff

Patrick L. Phillips
Global Chief Executive Officer

Kathleen B. Carey
President and CEO, ULI Foundation

Dean Schwanke
Senior Vice President
Case Studies and Publications
Principal Author

Payton Chung
Director
Case Studies and Publications

James A. Mulligan
Senior Editor/Manuscript Editor

David James Rose
Copy Editor

ULI 2016 Global Awards for Excellence winner

Note: This case study draws extensively on information and text developed by Goldman Properties as part of the firm’s 2016 submission to the ULI Global Awards for Excellence program.

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