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Vendors hopeful of changes coming to Opa-locka Hialeah Flea Market

Gramercy Property Trust plan to give flea market makeover

OPA-LOCKA, Fla. – From his recently downsized unit, Abdul has seen the iconic Opa-locka Hialeah Flea Market from its prime to its downfall throughout the past 25 years.

"You (couldn’t) even walk through the aisles," Abdul Hayek said, while shuffling through clothes.

Juanita Celaya, the daughter of a vendor at the flea market, agrees.

"People came every day, and it’d be packed," she said. "And now it’s not the same."

She blames the lack of the traffic on the condition of the flea market.

On July 20, the New York-based group Gramercy Property Trust brought the flea market and plans on giving it a makeover. 

"We're betting $80 million on the flea market, and we plan on making it a very attractive marketing experiment for the consumer," operator Chris Kallivokas said.

The flea market spans about 43.8 acre and is the largest facility in Opa-locka that provides jobs.

Some of the 197 vendors who work at the flea market hope that a new sewage system and better roof will be among the changes in the works.

Rodney Barreto, an operator with RER Outdoor Marketplace, said they are planning to put in a new parking lot and new bathrooms.

Phase one of renovations are set to start in about six months.

"Opa-locka has had some challenges the past, but as you can see, we have developers and people from the outside that see Opa-locka as that diamond," Commissioner Matthew Pigett said.