New development causing concern for longtime Little Haiti residents, business owners

MIAMI – Little Haiti is known not just for its colorful, unique charm, but also for its obvious cultural draw.

Jan Mapou is the owner of Caribbean bookstore Libreri Mapou and the building it sits in.

Has been in that spot for 32 years, though Mapou now fears his days are numbered as big city development projects inch closer.

“This is the only type of bookstore in Miami where you can find French books and Creole books,” he said, and when asked about people trying to buy the building, “Every day, every minute. I don’t know how they get my name but they’re texting me if I want to sell.”

Just one block north, land is being prepped for the “Magic City Innovation District,” which will bring a mix of new condos, a hotel, retail and office space.

There are even plans for a Brightline train stop.

Magic City Innovation District development (Magic City Innovation District)

This is all across 18 acres of precious land in Little Haiti, where property values have spiked and the rents raised among other business owners.

“I don’t have nowhere to go, now it’s very difficult,” said Louis Market owner Louis Chernfant. “Very expensive.”

It’s even squeezing out some longtime residents who say they can no longer afford to stay.

“I’m under eviction right now, they’re raising rent is so high,” said Little Haiti resident Charmaine Williams-Greer.

The marketplace at the Little Haiti Cultural Center was recently cited as an unsafe structure.

Neighbors saw it as a ploy to make room for future development, since the city owns the building and essentially cited itself.

Those issues have since been corrected, but the worry remains.

“I’m wondering with everything going on, in the next five to ten years, will we have a Little Haiti?” said Mapou.

About the Author:

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.