As a starting point to attracting more visitors, an exhibition about Opa-locka’s Moorish architecture is currently on display at HistoryMiami in downtown Miami. The “Opa-locka: Mirage City”exhibit runs through Sept. 8.
The federal government is supporting efforts to transform Opa-locka. In 2010, the OLCDC was awarded $20 million by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Neighborhood Stabilization.
Mayor Myra Taylor says that signs of a “renaissance” are already visible. Private money is flowing in, with new businesses arriving, she says, and the largest real estate development project in the history of the city — a $23 million, six-story residential building — is under construction.
The removal in 2012 of the metal barricades at Magnolia North, erected there in the 1980s in an effort to control drug trafficking, was seen as a symbol of the city’s revival. Art installations are planned to replace the barriers.
“The community has jumped on board as a whole to fix up their yards and the landscaped areas,” Taylor said. “People are now taking a second look at the uniqueness of where they live.”
A week-long effort to finalize plans that included a citizen input workshop was organized last May. At the workshop, citizens had the opportunity to share ideas on future plans for housing, commercial developments and public spaces.
The involvement of neighbors is cited by the OLCDC as a difference with how arts arrived in Wynwood. Logan says that gentrification in Opa-locka won’t imply displacement.
“Our commitment is not to displace people,” Logan said. “We are using restricted deeds so that houses are affordable for decades.”