Hialeah Councilman proposes arts district



Picture a walkable stretch of east Hialeah lined with mural-painted walls, galleries and music venues.

Peppered with cafeterias and thrift stores that now rest between a smattering of car repair shops warehouses, the area would be home to artists and their work in spaces with cheap rents.

It’s the vision of recently reelected Councilman Paul “Pablito” Hernández, who has proposed an ordinance to create a district where artists would live and work in a swath of industrial space near the intersection of East 17th Street and East 10th Avenue.

The whole area lies on the eastern edge of the city, between Ninth and 17th Streets and between 10th Avenue and the railroad tracks.

“Bringing art and life into the area will positively impact existing businesses,” Hernández said, adding that he sees Miami’s artsy Wynwood neighborhood as a model. He said with a central location in the county, a Hialeah arts district could attract visitors and bring some positive attention to the City of Progress.

The City Council will consider the ordinance at a future meeting, after the city’s Cultural Affairs Council weighs in at a Nov. 18 meeting. The ordinance would create an overlay district, which does not impact any current zoning regulations, and would implement a design review committee comprised of local artists to approve outdoor murals.

The proposed district includes Flamingo Plaza, home to several popular thrift stores, including Red, White and Blue Thrift Store.

Hernández said further in the future, he’d like see live music venues added to the mix.

Blas Vacca, who works at a thrift store in the warehouse area north of the plaza, said it’d be nice to bring some new life to the area.

“I wouldn’t mind it,” he said.

Jack Frisch, owner of Stephen’s Restaurant & Catering at the corner of 16th Street and 10th Avenue, said he would love to see some new energy injected to what used to be a bustling garment manufacturing district.

“Anything to fill in the vacant space,” he said. “And rent’s cheap. That’s like rule number one for artists.”

Stephen’s has sat at that corner since the mid-1950s, and Henderson Biggers has cooked there since the beginning. He saw the garment industry grow and eventually fade in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

He said he’d appreciate a little change.

“It’s something different,” he said.

Follow @joeflech on Twitter.

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