Study: Little Haiti Will Gentrify Faster Than Any South Florida Neighborhood in 2017

A little more than a year ago, activist Marleine Bastien stood outside on a clear December day, waving signs in front of the headquarters of Fanm Ayisyen nan Miyami, her Little Haiti-based women's rights organization. The group was demanding one thing from the City of Miami: Slow the rapidly snowballing pace of gentrification in the historically working-class Caribbean neighborhood.

"Gentrification is here, baby," Bastien told New Times at the December 2015 rally.

Thirteen months later, that request appears to have fallen on deaf ears. A host of massive luxury apartment and entertainment complexes is in the works, and now, a study released today says property values in Little Haiti will rise faster than those in any other South Florida neighborhood in 2017.

Today the real-estate tracking website Zillow released its study "Hottest Housing Markets for 2017" — and as part of the data, Zillow broke down the five housing markets in the Miami-Dade/Fort-Lauderdale metro area expected to gain the most value in 2017.

Little Haiti is expected to outgrow every other neighborhood from Homestead to Fort Lauderdale, with a projected 4.6 percent increase in property values next year.

According to Trulia.com, the median home sale price in Little Haiti at the moment is $180,000, which is slightly down from last year.

The 441 corridor in Hollywood, South Middle River in Fort Lauderdale, Highland Garden in Hollywood, and, surprisingly, Miami's Liberty City, round out the top five. (This isn't the first time a real-estate website has told investors to start eyeing Liberty City, one of Miami's most economically troubled communities.)

Given Zillow's incoming forecast and the recent spate of developments proposed in Wynwood, 2017 might well be the year Little Haiti's anti-gentrification activists lose their battle against wealthy developers for good.

Two gigantic projects have already been pitched within ten blocks of each other in the neighborhood.

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In November, developer Tony Cho announced plans to turn his newly opened music venue Magic City Studios into a sprawling, block-sized "innovation district," which will turn 45,000 square feet of space on NE Second Avenue between 60th and 64th Streets into restaurants, shops, and the aforementioned music venue.

Not to be outdone, SPV Realty, the New York-based company that owns the Design Place apartment complex on 50th Street, has filed plans to raze that property and replace it with a massive complex featuring 2,798 apartments, 418 hotel rooms, 283,798 square feet of retail space, 97,103 square feet of office space, and more than 4,600 parking spaces in an area just south of Churchill's Pub and Sweat Records on NE Second Avenue. The complex could include towers as tall as 28 stories.

That behemoth structure has its fair share of detractors: To begin building, SPV's plans need to pass through the City of Miami's Urban Development Review Board. But after a crowd of protesters showed up at its last meeting in December, the then-shorthanded board delayed voting on the project. The project will come up for a vote again this month.

To add insult to injury, SPV, which wants to build in a historically black neighborhood, has been sued twice for allegedly refusing to rent apartments to black people.

Haitian activists have long warned that investors could easily exploit area residents: One activist told the Miami Herald in 2015 that the area's majority-immigrant residents largely rent their homes and are often unaware of the rights they have as a U.S. renter or homeowner. Bastien, the activist, told New Times in 2015 that residents were being offered two to three times the value of their homes to move out.


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