Days before the Miami City Commission votes on a billion-dollar real estate project in Little Haiti, the debate around how the development will impact the neighborhood continues to intensify.

Proponents of the Magic City Innovation District, which will be headquartered at 6001 NE Second Ave., say that the massive development, which is projected to take 10 to 15 years to complete, will propel the Little Haiti area into an international draw for tourists, creatives and tech companies. City commissioners will vote on a first round of approvals of the project on Sept. 27. If it passes, the project must win a second approval at a later date.

Critics argue that the mixed-use development — a sprawl of residential, commercial, office, research and entertainment spaces spread out over 17 acres — will raise rents and property values, further squeezing Little Haiti’s poor and working classes, while adding high-tech jobs that require skills locals simply don’t have.

“The writing’s on the wall,” said Chef Wilkinson “Ken” Sejour, owner and founder of Chef Creole Seafood restaurants and catering. “When this whole thing goes into full swing, the Little Haiti community will not be able to partake in this conglomerate of an endeavor. Ten years from now, the Little Haiti we know today is not going to be Little Haiti any more. You’re going to put a billion dollars into a small area and and keep the name Little Haiti? I don’t think so.” Continue reading

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