Four Major Residential Projects Planned For Little Havana Neighborhood
By Shannon Pettypiece
Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood is set to get a facelift, with four major residential developments planned and construction scheduled to begin on one this fall.
Developers say the projects will bring a new character to the traditionally low-income Cuban-American community.
Miguel Barbagallo of B Developments said construction on condominium tower Altos de Miami, the first of his three Little Havana projects, will begin in a few months at 1 Glen Parkway, between West Flagler Street and Northwest 22nd Avenue. The 16-story building will have 130 units ranging from 800 to 1,200 square feet with prices starting at $125,000.
Mr. Barbagallo said he will begin another project, Altos de Miami 2, when the first one is complete. The second will be at Northwest Seventh Street and 22nd Avenue and will be similar in design and prices to the first project. He said has purchased the property and is arranging financing for construction.
Mr. Barbagallo also plans a third project, along the Miami River on a 2.15-acre lot he has purchased at 1861 NW South River Drive, near the Orange Bowl. The project, which has not been financed, would be a 35-story townhouse-condominium complex with 322 units starting at $180,000.
Mr. Barbagallo said the first Altos de Miami is more than 80% sold. Most buyers are older residents of Little Havana looking for low-maintenance homes and middle-income buyers who want to live near their jobs on Brickell Avenue, he said.
"As soon as we started learning about the area and the neighborhood and knocking on the doors of the people in the neighborhood, we found a very interesting market," Mr. Barbagallo said. "That market was composed of local people and middle-class workers. They are growing up, and they need new and good homes."
Meanwhile, East Little Havana Community Development Corp. is planning a 15-story, 120-unit project with units selling for about $200,000 and less, said executive director Anita Rodriguez-Tejera. She said construction should begin early next year.
Ms. Rodriguez-Tejera said the community has been anticipating housing development for years. "There not only seems to be interest but serious commitment by the developers. Over the years, we have heard a lot of talk but seen little action."
Ms. Rodriguez-Tejera said only 3% of Little Havana residents own their homes – the lowest rate in the US.
"We need people willing to stay and take a stake in the neighborhood. We are full of rentals. We need some stability back in the neighborhood."
City of Miami Commissioner Joe Sanchez, whose district includes Little Havana, wants to make sure development enhances the neighborhood without displacing it and that Little Havana continues to be a community where immigrants will feel welcome, said Steve Wright, the commissioner’s senior policy advisor.
"Hopefully, it only enhances the character," Mr. Wright said. " I don’t think we would be wild if someone wanted to knock down a whole square block. I just can’t see the commissioner approving something that looks ‘space-shippy’ if it might make people feel like they are changing the place."