Will longtime residents benefit from future of Fort Lauderdale's Sistrunk neighborhood?

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Sheryl Dickey has been a business owner in the beleaguered but historical neighborhood of Sistrunk for over 20 years.

"You ought to see it as the next big thing because it is," Dickey, president and CEO of Dickey Consulting Services, said. "There is still property here available to actually build on, and then there are people who already have buildings that you can lease from. And so, this is a thriving area."

"New buildings are fine, but can the low and disadvantaged folk that live here now benefit from them?" Marie Huntley, of the Home Beautiful Park Civic Association, said.

Huntley grew up in Sistrunk. She said the latest building on the chopping block is Bass Brothers Grocery -- a grocer that has operated in the area for 70 years. It will be torn down and an office building with retail spots will take its place.

"The concern is that they won't replace it with another supermarket that will provide fresh produce and healthy options and choices for food for the neighborhood," Huntley said.

Critics are not only concerned about losing the only grocery store they have in the neighborhood, but they are also worried about losing longtime residents. 

With rapid redevelopment also comes the possibility of higher rent.

"Over time in other cities that has happened. Everybody points to Harlem," Dickey said. "I don't think that's going to happen in Fort Lauderdale in this community because there is a way to control it."

Dickey said the Community Redevelopment Authority has resources like grants and low interest loans available so minority entrepreneurs can partake in the progress but some say at what cost?

"They are going to strip the character of Sistrunk away because they are going to strip the history from those that have built that history," Huntley said.

Clearly encroachment is coming from the east and the CRA has just six more years before the county takes it over to not only help Sistrunk step forward, but to salvage its important history.