The role of neighborhood organizations in the production of gentrifiable urban space: The case of Wynwood, Miami's Puerto Rican barrio

Marcos Feldman, Florida International University


Partnerships between government and community-based actors and organizations are considered the hallmark of contemporary governance arrangements for the revitalization and gentrification of economically distressed, inner city areas. This dissertation uses historical, narrative analysis and ethnographic methods to examine the formation, evolution and operation of community-based governance partnerships in the production of gentrifiable urban space in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami, FL between 1970 and 2010. This research is based on more than four years of participant observation, 60 in-depth interviews with respondents recruited through a purposive snowball sample, review of secondary and archival sources, and descriptive, statistical and GIS analysis. This study examines how different organizations formed in the neighborhood since the 1970s have facilitated the recent gentrification of Wynwood. It reveals specifically how partnerships between neighborhood-based government agencies, nonprofit organizations and real estate developers were constructed to be exclusionary and lead to inequitable economic development outcomes for Wynwood residents. The key factors conditioning these inequalities include both the rationalities of action of the organizations involved and the historical contexts in which their leaders’ thinking and actions were shaped. The historical contexts included the ethnic politics of organizational funding in the 1970s and the “entrepreneurial” turn of community-based economic development and Miami urban politics since the 1980s. Over time neighborhood organizations adopted highly pragmatic rationalities and repertoires of action. By the 2000s when Wynwood experienced unprecedented investment and redevelopment, the pragmatism of community-based organizations led them to become junior partners in governance arrangements and neighborhood activists were unable to directly challenge the inequitable processes and outcomes of gentrification.

Subject Area

American history|Social structure|Hispanic American studies|Urban planning

Recommended Citation

Feldman, Marcos, "The role of neighborhood organizations in the production of gentrifiable urban space: The case of Wynwood, Miami's Puerto Rican barrio" (2011). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3502105.