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David Lombardi Talks Wynwood Cafe District

Categories: Food Politics
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Jacob Katel
Lombardi at work.
The Wynwood Cafe District is a zoning effort on the part of business leaders, residents, artists, real estaters, and local government to promote foodlife and nightlife in Wynwood by allowing liquor license clusters, and waiving parking requirements. Before the Wynwood Cafe District was founded, liquor licenses had to be a certain distance in feet apart from each other -- something like 1,500 -- and restaurants had to have on site parking, a heavy added cost for those converting warehouses to eateries.

Broker David Lombardi says, "We wanted to try and create a synergy, a strength. The center of the district is Joey's. That's where they want everything to pop up. The cafe district is zoned from 22nd to 27th streets between NW Second and Fifth Avenues. On 23rd through 25th Streets, it starts west from NW First Avenue.

"The thing about Wynwood versus the Design District for doing a restaurant is that the rent is so much cheaper here."

But your stake in it is to get people in here, raise the property value and charge higher rent, right?

"Of course. That's not some big secret you uncovered. I'm a capitalist. I been sitting in this fucking neighborhood for nine years. When I got here in 2000, the rents were five or six dollars a square foot. In nine years they've only doubled. That's not such a big jump as the 20 to 40 double that happened in the Design District. It costs the same to build here, but if your rent is a third of the price, then your bottom line is gonna be that much fatter."

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A Michael Vasquez painting in Lombardi, a collector's, office.

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