Alarmed by the increase in costs for rental properties, a group of entrepreneurs from Little Havana has created a new partnership to strengthen business activity and promote the values of that increasingly popular Miami neighborhood.
The new group, Que pasa, Little Havana? (What's up, Little Havana?) says that rents in the area have experienced an increase of 5.7 percent since last year.
"Small businesses are being pressured to leave," said Daymis Hernández, one of the directors of the new organization. "Some of them have been here for many years and can't afford these increases."
Hernández said Wednesday that the organization is requesting the support of Miami-Dade County to take a look at what is happening in Little Havana. She added that the proposal to establish a ceiling on rental prices should be considered and "we should not be compared with the rental prices on Brickell," the high-rise and financial district within walking distance of the working-class neighborhood.
"Small merchants are being abused to get them out and rent the premises to new businesses at much higher prices," Hernández said.
In early May, el Nuevo Herald reported hardships faced by some businesses in Little Havana.
The report exposed, among other cases, a business that survived the trend of increased rents: LeKoke Wines and Bites, the last of the businesses still operating at a small strip mall at Southwest Eighth Street and 12th Avenue. The building was purchased in 2014 by a new company. CubaOcho Museum & Performing Arts Center, on Southwest Eighth Street between 14th and 15th avenues, also is facing a rent increase.
Similar complaints recently were raised by merchants in Miami's Little Haiti neighborhood, which also is experiencing higher rents as a result of gentrification.
Beyond fighting increased rent rates, Que pasa, Little Havana? also will focus on preserving the cultural tradition of the historically immigrant community by organizing educational and artistic events.