'Ambitious' plan unveiled for Miami's Little Havana neighborhood

Miami's mayor describes revitalization plan as road map forward

By Hatzel Vela - Cuba Correspondent

MIAMI - A revitalization plan that addresses urban planning, architectural design and historic preservation in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood was released Tuesday. 

"What I like about the report is that it's very realistic. It's very practical. A lot of it has to do with zoning changes, which we can do with a stroke of a pen," said Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who described the plan as the most comprehensive he has even seen when it comes to preserving the character and uniqueness of Little Havana.

Renderings from Plusurbia Design, a local planning firm, showed plans for 553 acres in East Little Havana, with an emphasis on the areas along the Miami River. 

The plan's major findings address the neighborhood's identity, mobility, community building and nature. 

In 2015, the National Trust for Historic Preservation listed Little Havana as one of the most endangered neighborhoods in America. 

"Little Havana is the heart and soul of Miami. It is also a longstanding symbol of the immigrant experience and one of the most essential places in America," said Robert Nieweg, senior field director and attorney at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "But there is no denying that this important place is also facing a range of threats, and its residents confront  significant challenges on a daily basis, from sub-standard housing to poor transportation options to a lack of green space." 

Big development, like in Brickell, has encroached on the historic neighborhood, affecting home prices and rent. 

"We want to make sure that our neighborhoods are resilient. We want to make sure that we can keep our residents here and that our residents never have to leave," Suarez said. 

In 2017, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and other civic and nonprofit organizations started working together with around 2,700 neighborhood residents on ways to retain the things that make Little Havana one of America's most beloved neighborhoods.

"It's not overwhelming. It's not massive. It's not going to overwhelm the properties that are here, but we do need supply," Suarez said about the current housing situation in the neighborhood. 

Click here to view the full Little Havana revitalization plan.  
 

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