The Midtown Messenger

Bits and pieces of news from around South Florida… Or from whatever else I happen to be reading at the moment.

Well, friends, it is hot. According to the local scribes, South Florida broke a number of heat records yesterday. Relief is in sight, but it won’t be coming for a few more days, making me think twice about continuing my “Walking in Miami” series, but we’ll see. Sweating may be annoying, but being cooped up inside all day is somewhat more so. Whatever your choice, drink plenty of water!  Sun Sentinel

The Great Debate

As you may have heard, there is a debate between the Democratic presidential hopefuls going on in Miami later this week. As the Herald reported, good luck getting in unless you’re rich, connected or elected. Getting press credentials is no sure bet either, as one of my students was turned down after submitting an application. Though a bit disappointing, I suspect all of us may be enormously weary of political topics by this time next year — to say nothing of November 2020.

Not content to let the Dems have control of the spotlight, national Republicans — including Vice President Mike Pence — are headed this way this week for a number of GOP rallies and events. One of these, to be staged outside the Arsht Center where the debates are being held, is a two-day deal by the Federated Republican Women of North Dade titled the “Rally for Americans Opposing the Wave of Socialism in the 2020 Presidential Campaign.” Quite the mouthful. Miami Herald 

Gentrification, Wynwood Style

Before I get going, I have a question. Does anyone truly understand the reasoning behind the micro-neighborhood naming of the areas around here? We have: Edgewater, Midtown, Overtown, Wynwood, Design District, Little Haiti, Lemon City, Little River, Morningside, Belle Meade… And that’s just from I-195 up to about 80th Street and east of I-95.

Anyhow, before I moved Daniel Evans Creative World HQ™ to Edgewater last year, I lived in Wynwood… Well, close to Wynwood in a place that apparently used to be considered Overtown, but got fancy and so got a new moniker: The Arts & Entertainment District. It is a strange name, to be sure, as the only real art was a popup gallery on 17th Street and the nearest entertainment was the E11EVEN nightclub, which I think is considered downtown anyhow.

Still, I was close enough to make the trek to the small stretch of real estate that is Wynwood — 20th to 29 streets and Miami to 5th avenues, more or less — and to feel somewhat at home there. It looked a lot like the neighborhood I lived in before I moved to Miami, namely the Arts District in downtown Los Angeles (AD in DTLA for those in the know).

But just like the AD, Wynwood is turning from a funky, arty bohemian place to an overheated, overdone “destination” with increasingly absurd real estate prices and $9 lattes. From my understanding, the gentrification of Wynwood had a slightly different playbook than the issues facing places like Overtown or Little Haiti. Because few people lived in the area that now serves as its nerve center, few families were displaced by higher rents. But, as you know, people aren’t just the only things in a neighborhood.

And though few may have shed a tear for the closing of an auto repair or pawn shop — the first victims of Wynwood’s success — the change is starting to cut a bit deeper now. Earlier this year, O Cinema and Wynwood Yard baled out of the area, the latter decamping to Doral in search of lower rents. And now, according to the Herald, Boxelder and Palmar, two longtime (for Wynwood anyhow) staples have to pack up shop to make way for a high-rise and artist studio complex.

The lede might say it best: “The last hipster in Wynwood can now turn off the lights.” Ouch.

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