As the area directly north of Downtown Miami and adjacent to the textile district, Midtown was primarily a sector of manufacturing, industrial warehouses, and transportation depot. In fact, much of the land was historically a rail yard for the Florida East Coast Railway. At one time, the Wynwood neighborhood was referred to as “Little San Juan” and “El Barrio” due to the influx of Puerto Ricans who began immigrating to this area from the island and many northeastern cities in the 1950’s. Until recently, lower-income Puerto Rican markets, restaurants and shops were standard features in Wynwood.
Rapid Rise of a Cultural Hotspot
In the past decade, the Midtown/Edgewater neighborhood has been in the midst of a gentrified renaissance. Beginning in 2005, Midtown Miami construction began on the site of the former Florida East Coast rail yard. The large scale urban renewal project included development of luxury high-rise residential buildings, The Shops at Midtown outdoor shopping and entertainment complex, rehabilitating neglected properties and other unused buildings and converting spaces into galleries, restaurants and upscale retail shops.
A few years after the Midtown Miami project began, Tony Goldman – the legendary real estate developer and patron of the arts – set his sights on the Design District and Wynwood. After instrumental roles in redeveloping the trendy SoHo neighborhood of NYC and transforming Miami’s South Beach into a glitzy playground of the rich and famous, Goldman is credited with sparking the cultural hotspot that Wynwood has become.
Creative Innovators Move the Economy
Today, the Wynwood Arts District contains more than 70 galleries, museums, antique shops and art collections. The second Saturday night of every month is known as “Art Walk”. The extremely popular event occurs along the many side streets and narrow alleys of Wynwood, as the art galleries and studios open their doors to the public, and food trucks and street performers join the festivities. The area is also home to Wynwood Walls, a permanent outdoor mural exhibit featuring the works of world-renowned and local street artists – originally started when Tony Goldman invited graffiti artists from around the world to paint murals on his buildings. The Wynwood Fashion District is home to many of the region’s major clothing retailers and distributors, while South Florida’s burgeoning tech industry is primarily located in the Wynwood Technology District. Locals and tourists alike have come to enjoy Wynwood’s many new restaurants and al fresco cafes while delighting in the ever changing pop-up shops, performance art venues and way, way off Broadway productions. Miami’s foodie culture has definitely taken notice of the culinary creations prepared in Wynwood’s restaurants and cafes.
Much of Midtown’s unexpected growth – over such a relatively short period of time – can be traced to the development of The Shops at Midtown. The complex includes a collection of popular boutiques, major retail chains, upscale restaurants, and a large park. During Art Basel Week, Midtown hosts the Art Miami fair. As international investors and celebrities descend upon the city, this series of exhibits, parties, and events has become increasingly important – and financially significant.
Condo Market on Prime Real Estate
The area’s residential buildings are primarily focused around the Midtown development and the adjacent Edgewater neighborhood along the exquisite waterfront of Biscayne Bay. Edgewater, with its residential condominium towers and historic 20th century homes, has experienced significant changes with the revitalization of Midtown. Proximity to Downtown, and the excitement of Midtown, the Design District, and Wynwood, has brought major capital investment to the neighborhood’s enticing waterfront property. In fact, some of Miami’s most-anticipated luxury developments are planned (or underway) in the area including Aria on the Bay, Biscayne Beach, Canvas, Paraiso Bay, and GranParaiso. The outlook for the area’s condo market is strong with rising prices and increased inventory. Condo median sales prices increased to $217,400 for the area as of 3Q 2015, while total sales dropped slightly due to fewer distressed sales.