Miami’s Art World Sets Sights on Little Haiti Neighborhood

Miami’s Art World Sets Sights on Little Haiti Neighborhood
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The game-changing nature of this shift — a break from the traditional rootlessness of the bohemian art class — is not lost on Nina Johnson-Milewski, director of Gallery Diet. When Mr. Cho warmly clasped her shoulder and teased: “Congratulations! You’re a developer now,” Ms. Johnson-Milewski looked slightly taken aback. She wryly corrected him: “I’m a micro-developer.”

Labels aside, Ms. Johnson-Milewski said she realized what’s truly at stake: control. “It’s not just about avoiding having your rent jacked up,” she explained. “Ownership symbolizes independence, and for those of us who produce culture, longevity.”

Longevity can be a novel concept in a city like Miami. The 2002 arrival of Art Basel Miami Beach transformed the area, once derided as a cultural backwater, into a feverishly developing destination for art. Scores of galleries sprang to life in Wynwood, helping to create an American art mecca, behind only Los Angeles and New York.

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Nina Johnson-Milewski, director of Gallery Diet, which recently moved from the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami to the Little Haiti neighborhood. CreditRyan Stone for The New York Times

Wynwood pioneers moved into a down-on-its-heels warehouse district and invested their sweat equity, only to find themselves priced out of the neighborhood they helped make so attractive. Wynwood rents fetch upward of $60 a square foot, triple that of just four years ago; spacious warehouses can command $100,000 rental fees during Art Basel for corporate product introductions and media events. Art may remain part of the marketing of Wynwood, used to sell everything from cocktails to condos. But almost all the galleries that put it on the cultural map are gone.

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