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The Wynwood Formula: Art's Effect on the Community Culture

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At the opening general session of this year's Urban Land Institute fall meeting, the potential for art and culture to change cities was the area of focus. Jessica Goldman Srebnick, CEO of Miami-based Goldman Properties, spoke of her experience with her firm's role in the transformation of Wynwood.

It's often said that when you've mastered something, you can truly simplify it. And Srebnick has mastered the art of transforming a neighborhood, because she can explain it as a formula of three steps with Wynwood as an example.

Srebnick's company, of which she is the second generation CEO (succeeding her visionary father, Tony Goldman, who started it all), has had blockbuster success before, in NYC's Soho and Miami Beach. In the once forgotten industrial area of Wynwood, Goldman Properties acquired about 20 run-down single-story commercial buildings. They then famously invited a group of leading graffiti artists (think Shepherd Fairy, Ron English, Os Gemeos) to paint their newly acquired canvases. And the newly born Wynwood Walls became one of the world's largest (and free) outdoor street museum, attracting up to 15,000 people per day and night, when it becomes illuminated.

She referred to the formula of a renaissance: first, invite people to play. This is where hospitality comes in--they leased space to the Wynwood Kitchen & Bar to jumpstart traffic.

Second, invite people to work there. At this point, the key is to curate the right mix of creative tenants to attract more energy to the area. To get an anchor tenant, Goldman leased a building for a dollar per year to the Museum of Contemporary Art. They then proceeded to paint bold black-and-white stripes on an empty building, then leased it to technology sector tenants. And the result not only brought more people to the neighborhood, but also increased revenues. Rent increased from $6 per s.f. to $35 per s.f. Art does pay.

Finally, the third step is to develop a magnetic plan to attract people to live there. Enter the third floor of the Wynwood House, where live/work units ranging from 900 to 1100 s.f. boast natural light, high ceilings and unobstructed views of downtown Miami. Painted by international street artists Interesni Kaski, each floor of the three-story building has a unique purpose. The first floor is about 7,000 s.f. and occupied by Luxury Brand Partners as a community space for creative stylists and beauty professionals, while the second floor is office/studio space of about 1500 s.f. On the third floor.

There you have it. If you're not into steps that explain the process, here's a quote to summarize it all. "Put interesting things in your projects, and interesting people want to be there," says Srebnick.

· Transforming Cities through the Power of Art and Culture [ULI]