I am concerned by the Miami Herald editorial, published on March 14, regarding the proposed Magic City Innovation District in Little Haiti and its assertion that the community was not part of the process.
The truth is that the Magic City Innovation District has been meeting with the community for almost two years,in a highly collaborative process with Little Haiti and surrounding neighborhoods. That process included four community meetings to gather feedback and create a dialogue, with over 1,600 people invited to each.
Additionally, Magic City Innovation District has been formally meeting for months with an organization called the Concerned Leaders of Little Haiti (CLOLH) — a group which formed precisely out of the community’s desire to no longer be misrepresented. CLOLH represents a wide cross-section of the community, including local businesses, faith-based organizations, residents, and non-profits, and goes to great lengths to be open and inclusive.
The editorial glosses over the impact of the community benefits package negotiated through the efforts of Commissioner Keon Hardemon and CLOLH. This community benefits package will provide $31 million in payments towards the newly created Little Haiti Revitalization Trust Fund — a fund for affordable housing and other needed improvements that will be overseen and administered solely by and for the community.
In the editorial, there was no mention of the work done by the Magic City Innovation District Foundation to train small business owners through a small business training program in partnership with the Miami Bayside Foundation (which has already trained more than 70 new business owners in the community), nor of our work helping to mentor children through our support of Gang Alternative’s computer summer program, the Women of Tomorrow’s mentorship program at Edison High School, or the Little Haiti Football Club. (the premier youth soccer program in the neighborhood).
Additionally, there was no mention of the financial literacy program we helped create for residents of Little Haiti in partnership with Notre Dame d’Haiti Catholic Church and Bank of America, or the opportunities for local artists we’ve enabled through our annual support of Sounds of Little Haiti, or our help in preserving and restoring the historic DuPuis Medical Building.
The truth is that many leaders and members of the Little Haiti Community have worked in good faith with Magic City Innovation District and support this proposal, because they know what a significant opportunity this project presents for the community. It will create thousands of local jobs, adding almost $200 million per year to local businesses and residents as a result of increased foot traffic into the neighborhood, along with $37 million in property tax revenue for local schools.
Contrary to the opinion piece, no one is being displaced from our property. Our property is a long abandoned trailer park and collection of warehouses, industrial buildings and vacant land.
In fact, no one has lived on this property for years. Furthermore, the idea that this proposal has been rushed is a gross exaggeration and simply not true. Our application was submitted 18 months ago, and we have worked tirelessly with the community and have even had three deferments and two very lengthy public meetings. Finally, the opinion piece mislabels the project as solely a residential and luxury hotel development. The project is a mixed-use development with office, retail, residential and one hotel.
It does a great disservice to the many voices of the Little Haiti community who support this project, if we ignore the voices of many in place of the voice of one.
Neil Fairman is Managing Partner of the Magic City Innovative Project.