“Development and change are good. Over-development will destroy the cultural fabric of Little Haiti and it will push the very people who built this wonderfully culturally rich neighborhood,” Bastien argued. The area has seen some residents and business owners already pushed out as new developers make their way in.
Schiller Sanon-Jules is one of the pushed out business owners. He owns the Little Haiti Gift and Thrift Shop.
“Five years we had our lease. And, when it expired the lady told us straight out that she wasn’t going renew the lease unless we were paying $1,800 more,” Sanon-Jules explained. The hiked rent forced the shop owner out of his space – which is now occupied by the Villain Theatre.
Bastien said developers such as Eastside Ridge are moving forward with their plans without including their neighbors in Little Haiti.
“Before you make this big proposal, this gigantic plan, get them to the table from the beginning,” Bastien said.
However, Eastside Ridge told NBC 6 its plans will be inclusive. The developer wants to build a mixed-use complex that will include rental property, retail space, two hotels and restaurants. Representative for Eastside Ridge, Ric Katz, said the new project will employ a lot of people from the neighborhood.
Source: NBC 6 South Florida