The Community Speaks on Little Havana’s Future
By: Ismael Rodriguez
Stakeholders in Little Havana, a colorful, multicultural hub with an array of Latin-inspired cafes, restaurants, venues and markets in Miami, invited over 100 locals to voice their opinions on the future and current state of their historic neighborhood.
Plusurbia, along with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Dade Heritage Trust and Live Healthy Little Havana gathered concerned residents at Miami Senior High School on March 11 to give feedback on a long-term plan for the community’s future, and its preservation of history and heritage.
The residents supported the “Little Havana, ME IMPORTA” meeting by wearing name-tags and sitting at tables while clapping and supporting Plusurbia’s principal Juan Mullerat, a local himself, who gave the opening speech.
“Little Havana is a very special place,” Mullerat said. “The National Trust for Historic Preservation is the largest advocacy group within the nation with a focus on advocacy for neighborhoods which like to restore old buildings.”
Mullerat then added, “We believe Little Havana’s older and historic buildings serve the community for a healthy place to be. Cultures are embedded in Little Havana. It’s because of the relationship you all have that we’re here.”
This meeting followed a declaration by the National Trust for Historic Preservation that deemed Little Havana a ‘national treasure’ at a ceremony in the Manuel Artime Theatre in January.
Mullerat told the press at the ceremony that his architectural and urban design firm, along with its partners, would launch a long-term planning process to work with Little Havana residents, civic leaders and others to propel the community into modern times without fidgeting with its historic past.
After they addressed the community and heard the 100-plus locals, the stakeholders like Mullerat jotted down considerable ideas for the neighborhood’s preservation and future. Among the topics discussed were:
· Creating new community and cultural centers
· Ensuring that new construction is contextual and compatible with the neighborhood.
· Preserving and re-using historic buildings.
· Protecting and enhancing the sense of place of Calle Ocho.
· Creating more trolley routes and improving trolley service.
· Improving transit connections to major employment centers – downtown and the airport; creating a water taxi along the Miami River; creating a transit loop.
· Identifying neighborhood centers and providing convenient and safe multi-modal connections between them and to employment centers.
· Supporting and improving safe and convenient pedestrian and bicycle movement through the neighborhood.
· Improving pedestrian safety on sidewalks and safe crosswalks.
· Providing better lighting in alleys, bus stops, public spaces and parks.
· Calming speeding traffic.
· Converting one-way to two-way streets.
· Reducing crime for safety at home and in the streets.
· Ensuring that housing is affordable and accessible.
· Maintaining existing buildings as decent places to live.
· Creating an approach for compassionate code compliance.
· Keeping streets clean by reducing litter and maintaining infrastructure and landscape.
· Supporting multicultural and multigenerational living spaces.
· Creating more parks and open space and improve access to existing parks.
· Planting more trees on private and public property.
· Adding shade.
· Improving riverfront access.