"What's Next For Wynwood" Panel Devolves Into Petty Fighting and Personal Attacks
"Part of my job... is simply to convince Wynwood that the city will work with the community," Collins said. "Part of Wynwood's job, and I agree with everybody who has agreed and disagreed in this conversation, is to work as a community. When this group of people understands that a lot of what you're saying is really cliche -- genuine, but cliche -- and uses that as an impulse to reach out to Joe Furst or Dave Lombardi or to other communities and see what they've done, this can be solved. This is really simple stuff. What's not simple is establishing Wynwood as a worldwide destination. There's so much to work for here," Collins said.
Audience members continued to engage. One man called for a public/private sector study in order to bring together key players and make them problem solve realistic main issues. Another, David Geller, who said he specializes in adaptive reused buildings like those of Wynwood, rallied the crowd to applause after speaking.
"I think you have a terrific problem here, so fantastically successful that it now needs to be guided, managed. Unfortunately, there will always be a segment of the art world that will continue to seek out less expensive undiscovered places for low rent," Geller said. "That's where they need to be, but if you miss the opportunity to get all the stakeholders in Wynwood, the people that made Wynwood have the energy that it has right now, you won't create what your vision was. It has to be a commitment by the landlords to keep the district with the mix of people and tenants that made it what it is right now. If you're only interested in the highest rent on the street, all the people that made Wynwood what it is right now will leave."
Attention went back to the panel as Lombardi discussed the ideal progress for Wynwood, which he affirmed the BID could help establish.
"As a group of property owners, we've been meeting for many years. We've enacted things that no other district has, doing it with our own money so people like us are putting our money where out mouth is and trying to create a great district. When it comes to a vision and what this neighborhood is, this is the cultural home for the creative entrepreneur, the creative artist, the creative individual," Furst said as he defended the plan.
Collins fought off interjection from Kohen a few times before he managed to finally get out that this is the "first time in America to try and figure out how the galleries can continue to survive and on what terms in the district, and I think that's the challenge in front of us. Please, work together."
Jose Nava of WADA helped bring the raging public forum to a much needed close by explaining that these were not new problems being addressed, and that WADA has been working for quite some time to establish a course of action. "We are actually working to create this infrastructure that everyone has complained about. It's slow, but it's there," he said.
At the end of the meeting, Furst spoke to New Times. He addressed the Art Walk complaints, saying it's only "twelve days a year. We'll always do the best we can in terms of controlling the Art Walk, but to classify or generalize a neighborhood after 12 days a year is just kind of absurd. And my hope for the Art Walk is to expose the neighborhood. It's not a bad thing."
The end result of the panel: A fresh rehashing of the same old problems, resulting in petty in-fighting instead of viable solutions. Everyone invested in Wynwood has an opinion and no one has a concrete solution -- and it seems no one will until the Wynwood community actually tries talking to itself.
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