North Beach Yard moves forward

North Shore

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

North Beach Yard moves forward:

wynwood yard founders would operate pop-up food hub

Miami Beach Commissioners are enthusiastic about Commissioner Ricky Arriola’s idea to bring The Wynwood Yard pop-up food concept to North Beach. Arriola raised the idea earlier this month with the North Beach Steering Committee, which unanimously endorsed it.
This week, Commissioners vetted the proposal and moved it forward for Committee and Planning Board discussion and public outreach.
Della Heiman, Wynwood Yard founder, explained the concept to the Commission. “We are a culinary incubator and a community hub. The concept is all about facilitating local entrepreneurs and giving them a launch pad to test and iterate their concepts in a market that tends to have pretty high capital barriers to entry.”
The project, conceptualized in 2015, now sits on five vacant lots in Wynwood and includes food trucks, shipping containers, and airstream trailers along with an organic garden. The space hosts 30 events a week including yoga, art classes, and music.
Heiman said there are 16 sets of local entrepreneurs at Wynwood Yard. “It’s a very, very diverse community” which she said attracts diversity. “Ultimately, that’s really where the magic of this space lies,” she explained. “It’s in the entrepreneurs who are building their businesses there every day and, they’re not only supporting their own communities and their own families, but they’re attracting such a large following of people who typically wouldn’t have a chance to intersect. The magic here is that we’re actually bringing together people from all different walks of life and cultures and they’re sitting at communal tables, they’re eating and drinking together, and they’re just connecting in a way that is unique for our city in a lot of ways.”
David Lombardy who owns the vacant Wynwood lots enthused that the concept works “better than I could have imagined … as the landlord, they’ve been a pleasure to deal with.”
Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez said she was excited by the project with the caveat that the operators work with the neighborhood to ensure the concept fits in. “The primary difference between The Wynwood Yard and The North Beach Yard is it is abutting residential properties,” she said. “There’s going to have to be some sort of noise abatement after maybe 10 pm. We’re going to have to figure that out. I think that’s probably the one issue that’s going to cause a problem so let’s work around that.”
North Beach Yard is proposed for the city-owned West Lots across from North Shore Open Space Park. Ideas for use of the lots were proposed in the North Beach Master Plan but nothing is moving forward in the near term, so Arriola proposed the temporary use of the space after being inspired by a visit to Wynwood Yard.
“This is among the most exciting things that I’ve worked on in my time as Commissioner,” he said. “I think it’s a win-win for the community” emphasizing the minimal risk to implement the temporary concept. “It’s a fairly short-term situation where we are activating part of the West Lots while we figure out what we want to do with them long-term. It allows us to do something in the interim, see how it goes, and do some really amazing programming for North Beach residents who right now really are lacking a lot of options when it comes to community-based entertainment, food and beverage options.” He added, “It helps the local business community. It helps local entrepreneurs launch their businesses. And it’s a very low cost way to do this. I’m very excited.”
The enthusiasm was shared by Commissioner Joy Malakoff. “I love it! It’s wonderful! It’s very exciting …  I look forward to it. … It sounds like just a wonderful, wonderful way to start activating that part of North Beach with something that the entire community can embrace. The devil, of course, is in the details as far as the lighting, electricity, sound but I’m sure that can all be worked out.”
Arriola said he “worked this process backwards” running the idea through the legal, planning, and code compliance departments “to see what hoops we’d have to go through.” After many months of work on it, he said implementation could be relatively easy and inexpensive.
The lot with the greatest potential is believed to be the log cabin site on Collins Avenue between 81st and 82nd Streets. Heiman has thoughts for how to incorporate the old log cabin there into North Beach Yard’s programming. “The preliminary idea is to convert the log cabin into an ‘Artist's Haven’ that would provide small spaces for resident visual artists to create and display their work,” she told RE:MiamiBeach. “The central room would be a performance space showcasing the talents of local singer-songwriters.”
Commissioner Michael Grieco said, “People have been spinning their wheels trying to come up with ideas [for the West Lots] and, again, because it’s not a huge infrastructure project this is something that if there’s a perpetual appetite for it, that’s great, and like Commissioner Arriola said it’s a win-win with a low risk. Those are the ideal opportunities especially with city land like this so I’m in.” He suggested arranging a public meeting in May so that public sentiment can be gauged early and any concerns addressed to “make sure this is as universally embraced as possible.”
With regard to noise and programming, Heiman said, “The only function of North Beach Yard is to make the community stronger and more vibrant … everything we’re going to do is going to be in collaboration with the neighborhood and the residents and everything that we do from a sound perspective is going to be with intention to make the neighborhood a better place to live.” She assured the Commission that “we are 100% on board to adjust the schedule so that it’s just a great place to be and it’s not diminishing the quality of anyone’s life especially residents who have been there for a really long time.”
She said she and Arriola have received numerous emails from nearby residents expressing their support. That said, she agreed a public meeting would be a good idea. “We’ll take all of that input and we’ll integrate it into the plan so that it really serves everyone in the best way that we possibly can,” she said.
Commissioners referred the item simultaneously to the Finance Committee to work on a lease, Land Use Committee to work on any issues such as noise, and to the Planning Board for appropriate code amendments. Details on a public meeting TBD but will be prior to any action.
 Photo: The Wynwood Yard

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