Mana decided to go all-in on the trade center idea after receiving significant interest from China, said Theodore Ward, a partner in Novam Portam, a consulting group that’s helping the developer work up a strategic vision. The firm is also helping Mana reach out to potential tenants in Asia to test its viability. Mana, who is known for adapting old buildings to new uses but has not built much from scratch, is in addition looking for development partners, Ward said.
As a result of his new commitment, Mana has dropped all plans to include high-rise residential in the Wynwood project, Ward said.
The trade center is designed to capitalize on a growing Asian commercial interest in Latin America by linking up traders, producers, lawyers and investment groups from each continent physically in Miami, a natural connection point, Ward said.
Trade between Asian and Latin American interests remains “fragmented” and the Wynwood center would be ideally positioned to cement those relationships, he said. The Asian companies they’re trying to lure do not currently have a presence in South Florida, Ward added.
“What’s needed to do that is a large-scale project like Mana Wynwood,” Ward said. “It’s a huge step. This is the type of project that would really elevate Miami in the eyes of the world. It’s a city that’s seen primarily as a tourist destination, though that’s not fair, as we know.”