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Front Page » Communities » Future of Little Havana under microscope

Future of Little Havana under microscope

Written by on March 14, 2017
Future of Little Havana under microscope

Over 100 people gave their opinions last week on what they like about Little Havana and how they want it to develop moving forward.
A number of stakeholders came to Miami Senior High School on Saturday for the first of three community meetings dedicated to Little Havana.
Plusurbia – in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Dade Heritage Trust and Live Healthy Little Havana – invited anyone with interest in the neighborhood to share thoughts on a long-term plan for the community’s healthy future while protecting its history and heritage.
In January, the National Trust for Historic Preservation declared the neighborhood a “national treasure.” During a ceremony in the Manuel Artime Theatre, where the announcement was made, Plusurbia principal Juan Mullerat said his architectural and urban design firm headquartered in Coconut Grove, along with its partners, would be launching a long-term planning process to work with neighborhood residents, civic leaders and others to steer the community forward with its past intact.
The first meeting was Saturday, March 11. The next two are to be in April and May on dates to be announced.
Seated at tables wearing tags with just their first names, people from all walks of life talked about their concerns, hopes and love for the historic community.
Called “Little Havana, ME IMPORTA,” the meeting began with a welcome from a woman who’s working with a residential group in the community. She introduced Mr. Mullerat. “We needed a local to lead us,” Mr. Mullerat said. “Little Havana is a very special place. 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.”
“We believe Little Havana’s older and historic buildings serve the community for a healthy place to be,” he said. “Cultures are embedded in Little Havana. It’s because of the relationship you all have that we’re here,” he said to all in the high school’s library. “We’re here to listen and learn why Little Havana matters to you. Your responses will help us create recommendations for a thriving Little Havana.”
Miami Today was sitting at Table 9, and was joined first by Michael Caballero, CEO of start-up Earthware Inc., which is planning bio-plastic cutlery. Also an engineer for Federal Express, Mr. Caballero moved to Miami-Dade from Port Charlotte in 2008 for college.
When asked at Table 9 what he likes about Little Havana and wants for the neighborhood, Mr. Caballero said “walkability” and “cleaner,” respectively. Others said “historic buildings” and “preserve.” Mr. Caballero liked the idea of walking on Eighth Street.
The eight persons at the table were asked to lay out where they live and work; if they visit Little Havana local businesses; if they utilize the parks and, if so, which; to identify on a map – placed on each table – places that matter and why; identify where Little Havana can grow and how the neighborhoods should grow; and identify a street they love and one that’s a problem.
Important issues to consider were if the street has access to public transportation; whether people speed along the street; whether ample shade provides a comfortable place to walk; and whether there are bike paths.
Some at the meeting were Peter N. Wood, Health Foundation of South Florida vice president of programs and community investments, and David Collins of Coconut Grove, who is working on an ongoing effort for a business improvement district in Little Havana with Bill Fuller, one of the owners of Ball & Chain, a popular nightclub on Eighth Street.
Also there were Officer Paul McLaughlin of the City of Miami Police Department with his partner; Laurie Fucini-Jay, director of transportation, engineering and planning for Urban Health Solutions; and Andrea Iglesias, the interim executive director of Urban Health Partnerships.
Steve Wright of Plusurbia summarized later Saturday night big-picture ideas that came from the 100-plus who attended.
The stakeholders talked about:
■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.

4 Responses to Future of Little Havana under microscope

  1. Pablo Canton

    March 15, 2017 at 9:04 am

    I agree with the general concept except that it is a mistake to turn SW 8th Street into a two way traffic or turn a traffic lane into a dedicated bicycle lane. Neither do I believe that the traffic should be reversed at the expense of wasting several hundred thousand dollars for little benefit to the merchants.
    The most important stakeholders are the merchants who should be contacted and surveyed before any decision is made. They are the ones who would be directly affected by any changes.
    It should also be noted that the elimination of a traffic lane will impact Brickell and Downtown in a very negative way. Like it or not SW 8th Street is a main road to access those areas that keep growing on a daily basis and most people use cars and not bicycles.
    Leave SW 8th Street as is and beautify it with more lights and landscaping.

    • Anthony Rodriguez

      April 12, 2017 at 10:34 am

      Pablo, respectfully, most people use cars because there is no other safe choice. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different outcome. Little Havana has become neglected due to our focus on cars speeding right through 8st into Brickell. It’s time to make a change if we want to see little Havana prosper. We need protected bike lanes, lower speed limits, dedicated bus lanes, road diets and bigger sidewalks. Miami is not used to these concepts, but this is what makes neighborhoods desirable. Bring back the human scale to the city. Miami is at a cross roads, do we continue catering to cars or start making rapid adjustments to promote multimodal transit. If we continue catering to cars, the city will just stay in gridlock and our young and educated will leave due to traffic and unaffordable housing.

  2. Juan Mullerat

    March 16, 2017 at 9:26 am

    The general consensus was to study ALL one-way streets in the District. There was no decision with regards to SW 8th street (Calle 8). The comments and concerns from the residents and stakeholders were with regards to excessive speeding and safety on all one-ways, but specially in residential streets.

  3. Anneliese Morales

    March 18, 2017 at 2:05 am

    I appreciate both Mr. Canton’s experienced insight from past experience throughout the area for decades, as well as Mr. Mullerat’s vast experience as a Planner.

    Our greatest challenge is the consensus throughout Little Havana, as well as its surroundings residential areas, also impacted, as Mr. Canton notes.

    I look forward to hearing more community input from Seniors and families in the area, and I KNOW the speeding issues, along with careless drivers, are most important to the pedestrian and cyclist demographic of our community, as much as it is to those commuting from farther distances.