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Wynwood trade zone attracts nine potential buyers
By Eric Kalis
Nine offers are on the table from groups vying to buy the 8-acre Wynwood Foreign Trade Zone in Miami, and the zone's owner hopes to choose a buyer for the vacant property by next week.
After a 45-day international marketing blitz, the broker for federally licensed trade zone owner Wynwood Community Economic Development Corp. received bids from potential buyers ranging from private and public real estate trusts to local developers, said Wayne Ramoski, senior director for Cushman & Wakefield, which is marketing the property. The zone includes three rundown industrial and office buildings totaling 166,000 square feet. It is within 1.5 miles of the Port of Miami and is licensed for duty-free trade with limited tariffs on imports and none on exports.
Zone officials had expected about six offers to come in by last Friday's deadline, Mr. Ramoski said. The volume of bids and diverse pool of applicants is a reflection of a healthy Miami-Dade County commercial market in light of a residential slowdown and the property's appeal to industrial investors, he said.
"The commercial market is still very strong, especially the industrial market," Mr. Ramoski said. "We wanted to talk to local buyers as well as institutions, which in the past few years have been strong buyers of vacant" parcels.
Before selecting a buyer, zone brokers plan to iron out a final asking price and draft a short-list of qualified prospective buyers to meet with individually, he said. Most of the interested groups proposed renovating and leasing out the zone, Mr. Ramoski said, while one potential end-user made an offer.
"With most groups we know what they want to do with the property," he said. "There is one or two [with whom] we would like to go a little more in depth about what the development or redevelopment plan is."
Wynwood Community Economic Development Corp. agreed in March with real estate company RIMCI, which owns several small parcels at the 2235 NW Fifth Ave. site, to market the zone as Gateway Business Center at Wynwood, executive director William Rios said. Marketing the zone culminates three decades of efforts to create international trade opportunities and new jobs in economically depressed Wynwood, Mr. Rios said.
The zone has been vacant for about 10 years while the owner was in litigation with several parties, including the City of Miami and a former partner. Because the Wynwood Economic Development Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2005, the US Bankruptcy Court must approve a contract for the zone, Mr. Ramoski said. If the court rejects a contract, the zone could be auctioned off to the highest bidder.
The city's zoning code rewrite, Miami 21, targets Wynwood as a Priority Development Area and would probably be flexible about potential uses despite the current industrial zoning, Mr. Ramoski said.
"At the end of the day, what is extremely important is taking an asset that has lain idle for many years and turn it into a productive asset for the city," he said. "Everyone is focused on getting either a user or a tenant on the property to increase the tax base and create jobs."