Little Haiti Activists Hit Magic City Innovation District

The Magic City Innovation District is revitalizing the Little Haiti and Little River neighborhoods to create a world-class destination. It is a billion-dollar real estate project in Little Haiti-- a sprawl of residential, commercial, office, research and entertainment spaces spread out over 17 acres. The project will raise rents and property values, displace many of the Haitian diasporas-- squeeze Little Haiti's poor and working class and provide high tech jobs that require skills which locals simply don't have.


Little Haiti was once known as Lemon City. For the past three decades, it has transformed into a cultural hub for all things Haitian and also something more than a mere destination for the Haitian diasporas. It became the cultural center of the Haitians in Florida and a center of influence of Haitian Francophone culture.

Change to cities, neighborhoods, and communities is inevitable, but in most cases, gentrification occurs when affluent people move to or become interested in historically less affluent neighborhoods with huge commercial possibility. Certain forms of ethnic identity attract affluent professionals looking for a saleable alternative to easy, comfy suburban life. Often some institutions recognize this attraction and begun to manufacture a saleable form of ethnicity to tourists and prospective residents alike.

It is a known fact that generally, new arrivals benefit greatly from gentrification at the expense of lower-income residents. Stylist houses, expensive accessories in a trendy urban hood become easy and affordable to them while the less affluent old residents are eventually priced out of renting or buying. The new arrivals impose their culture on the neighborhood, lower-income residents become economically and socially marginalized.

The new Magic City Innovation District would instantly transform Little Haiti from an area of Caribbean immigrants and locally owned shops into a glitzy, landlocked version of Miami Beach. Thus, it is natural that Little Haiti's most prominent activists are demanding an official back off the proposal.

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