A Miami Arts Organization Wants to Build Hundreds of Affordable Housing Units for Artists in an Art Deco Former Bakery

Although Miami sees the art world come and go each December for Art Basel, at least one local institution is investing in the city’s art scene long-term and year-round. Bakehouse Art Complex, an arts facility in Miami’s Wynwood district, is planning to build 250 units of affordable artist housing on its two-acre campus.

The organization’s five-year plan “is to redevelop the Bakehouse site as a community-embedded, live-work arts campus,” wrote Bakehouse’s lawyer, Wesley Hevia of Akerman LLP, in a rezoning application to the city planning director. As a charitable organization, Bakehouse is requesting to have its application fees waived and are seeking a land-use amendment.

The space was founded in 1985 by a group of artists who had been kicked out of their studio spaces in Coconut Grove. With a grant from the government, they purchased a 1920s Art Deco building that historically served as an industrial bakery, promising to preserve it for artists’ use. Today, the building houses 60 studios (occupied by some 100 artists), two galleries, and facilities for printmaking, photo development, ceramics, woodworking, and welding.

Applicants for Bakehouse studios are evaluated based on need and merit, with an eye toward creating a community that is diverse in both the artists’ cultural background, as well as their medium and discipline. Studios are available to rent for a one-year period, with the option to reapply.

The facilities at the Bakehouse Art Complex in Wynwood, Miami, include a ceramics workshop. Photo courtesy of Bakehouse Art Complex.

The facilities at the Bakehouse Art Complex in Wynwood, Miami, include a ceramics workshop. Photo courtesy of Bakehouse Art Complex.

“Bakehouse is the largest artist-purposed, non-profit-owned site of its kind in the city’s urban core,” Hevia wrote. “For more than three decades, it has demonstrated its commitment to artists, the Wynwood neighborhood, and the larger South Florida community.” Offering affordable artist housing in a city where the real estate costs are continuing to rise will help Bakehouse continue its mission to support local artists, allowing them to stay in Miami.

The Miami-based Knight Foundation underwrote the development of Bakehouse’s five-year strategic plan, and has also awarded the organization a $150,000 grant. That money will be put toward bringing in a group of curators to work with artists on site-specific projects in and around the Bakehouse property.

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