Miami commissioners vote in favor of designating area as Little Haiti

Designation doesn't change zoning, planning or ability to redevelop the area

By Hatzel Vela - Cuba Correspondent

MIAMI - Miami commissioners unanimously voted Thursday in favor of designating Lemon City as Little Haiti.

The southern border is 54th Street, west to Interstate 95 and north along the Miami city boundary on 80th Street. It then goes back down along Northeast Second and Fourth avenues. 

The designation doesn't change zoning, planning or the ability to redevelop the area, but it does recognize the contributions and heritage of the Haitian people.

Hundreds of people packed City Hall on Thursday, many of whom were concerned that developers are trying to erase the name "Little Haiti" to make way for new gentrified neighborhoods.

"If nothing is done, Little Haiti will disappear and all the sacrifices and the hard work -- all this legacy will disappear," Haitian community activist Marleine Bastien said.

But historians and those who lived here before Haitians migrated to Miami don't want people to forget what was there before. 

The area called Lemon City was one of the earliest settlements in Miami. According to city history, the name first popped up in county documents in 1889.

"There's just a lot of history in that little community of Lemon City," Robert Mayer said.

Mayer's family has lived in the area since the 1890s. He thinks both Lemon City and Little Haiti should be celebrated.

"We don't need to designate Little Haiti," he said. "We need to recognize Little Haiti, and we need to recognize the history of Lemon City."

"This is about the future of Miami and how we chose to celebrate the present and the authentic Haitian experience that people want to come from all over the world for," Miami Commissioner Keon Hardemon said.

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