Overtown covets status as food and entertainment district
The Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency’s vision to position Overtown as a food and entertainment district and reclaim the neighborhood’s historic culture is closer to realization.
After being honored with the Redevelopment Association Awards’ Outstanding Rehabilitation, Reuse Project award for rehabilitating and transforming the former Clyde Killens Pool Hall building into a Red Rooster restaurant at 920 NW Second Ave., the agency is using this milestone as the first step to attract tourists and locals to visit Overtown for its entertainment and vibrant nightlife, said Cornelius Shiver, the community redevelopment agency’s executive director.
“Historically, we have a rich cultural and heritage background dating back during the segregation days,” he said. “Overtown was renowned for its black hotels, blues clubs and nightlife. We have decided to bring back those glory days.”
In 2018, the redevelopment agency’s board, made up of the five Miami city commissioners, approved the Historic Overtown Culture and Entertainment District Master Plan. The vision is to create a distinct place that reclaims the role of Overtown in the history and culture of Miami. The plan aims to establish a compact, walkable community with access to local and regional transit and centralized parking and to re-establish the neighborhood as Miami’s center for black culture, entertainment and entrepreneurship.
Developed by Wills + Perkins Inc., the plan will also enable new development, local investment, a place for businesses to grow and bring folks back to Overtown to live, Mr. Shiver added.
With the $5 million revitalization of Red Rooster Overtown and the Historic Lyric Theater at 819 SW Second Ave. as signature establishments, next on the culture and entertainment district master plan’s agenda is a boutique hotel, at least five more restaurants, art studios and a $3.5 million invested nightclub named Harlem Square.
“Parking is my next priority because business opportunities will work itself out,” Mr. Shiver said of infrastructure upgrades like sidewalks and sewer improvements, which will cost about $4 million, and development of at least 1,100 parking spaces and parking garages costing about $15 million to $20 million.
Funded through tax increment revenues, the agency reinvests these funds back into the redevelopment area by funding projects that enhance the quality of life for residents and attract new businesses geared to promote and support job-creating initiatives.
“We have to increase our annual median income, which is around $22,000, to support our residents with more job creators who will hire our residents, who have disproportionately suffered for too long,” Mr. Shiver said. “My simple formula to eradicate poverty is to have good jobs, affordable housing and a safe neighborhood.”