Wynwood BID to Launch Early With $40K Knight Foundation Grant
The Wynwood Business Improvement District is now $43,500 closer to cleaning up -- and possibly pissing off -- the trendy art community, thanks to a donation from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Issued late this month, the funds allow the Wynwood BID to launch immediately, instead of waiting until January 2014 when the organization can officially collect taxes from property owners in the area. Wynwood Arts District Association director of operations Jose Nava-Lujambio, who secured the grant, says the Knight Foundation's funds will be used set up the program's foundation and future direction.
"All the procurement activities and hiring of staff would have been delayed until the BID had revenue," Nava-Lujambio told New Times. "What we're doing before then is setting up the entire framework for the BID, so once the assessments start coming in, it can immediately start focusing on activities that are relevant to the community."
Because the BID is a municipal corporation rather than a nonprofit, the organization can put more direct pressure on city departments to fix problems. The BID will assume responsibility for financing security efforts, which are currently financed by WADA. Sanitation and security improvements are among the first priorities to accomplish by the end of the year, Nava-Lujambio says.
"Getting trash cans on the streets is extremely critical, we've been working on those for years," he said. "Wynwood has been underserviced for years. The city has been so constrained in terms of its resources that Wynwood hasn't been able to receive what it deserves with security and presentation."
In the future, BID and WADA will collaborate on several projects, from cultural programming for the community and public arts initiatives, to streetscape improvements and developing a master plan for the arts district. "In the short term, it's more about being able to jumpstart operations," Nava-Lujambio said.
Organized by the WADA, the BID plan to make the neighborhood safer and friendlier was both praised and criticized by Wynwood creatives earlier this year. Although weary of the possible directions the project could take back in June, artist and gallery director Daniel Fiorda has grown more optimistic about the BID's future.
"From all the new storefront developments opening now until December and so on, I can see a positive outlook," Fiorda said. "I think if the money is very well budgeted and spread throughout the entire neighborhood to businesses of all kinds, not just one avenue, it will be very positive."