My studio was across the street from the Zubi Market, a small bodega that stayed open during Hurricane Irma after all the major chain drugstores and groceries had closed. I lived down the street from little Caribbean spots like Clives Cafe, a Jamaican eatery famous for its meat and veggie patties, and Chef Creole, which attracts tourists looking to try Haitian cuisine like griot and plantains for the first time. I used to love to walk down Second Avenue and see women selling dresses off of trees or watch people run after the jitney, a small van that costs $1.50 and drives all through the main streets of the area. But my favorite thing to do in Little Haiti was just hang out on my balcony and listen to the sounds of Kompa music blasting from the loudspeakers outside of the neighborhood’s botanicas, which are spiritual stores known for selling potions, religious statues, and alternative medicine. Botanicas are especially popular among devotees of Vodou, Brujería, and Santería faiths.
Over the years, however, gentrification has begun to erase these distinct features that make Little Haiti a special place. A 2015 New York Times article helped spark the wave by alerting art collectors and real estate developers that Little Haiti had a hot scene. Since then, the property values have been climbing. According to real-estate analytics website Zumper, rents in Little Haiti jumped 13 percent over the fall quarter of 2017 and Miami started off the year as the ninth most expensive rental market in the nation. These days, Second Avenue is in transition, the old botanica block was stripped of its facade, and one of the few places you’ll find Haitians and locals hanging out is at the Caribbean Marketplace at the Little Haiti Cultural Complex. Paintings of patron saints by local artists like Serge Toussaint have been replaced with large windows sporting the stickers of development companies. Residents and small business owners in the area have been fiercely opposed to development projects that look to replace apartments with massive residential and commercial towers. I decided to move three months ago, after getting a note from my landlord that my rent was increasing $200.
Source: – VICE