Little Santo Domingo In Miami Under Threat From Developers.

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The Little Santo Domingo neighborhood in Miami, Florida is now one of the most endangered historic communities in the United States, squeezed out by rising real estate prices and redevelopment, with pricey art galleries replacing small neighborhood businesses.

In the United States, the word ‘historical’ can have surprising meanings. In fact a stretch in the neighborhood along NW 17th Avenue  between 28th and 36th streets.was nicknamed Little Santo Domingo, by former Miami mayor as recently as 2003 when Dominicans moved in to revitalize a run down area of Miami.

The official settlement of the Allapattah neighborhood was in the mid-1800s, and was home to many different groups over the decades, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The name means “alligator” in the Indian Seminole language.

Miami’s Black residents who were displaced by the construction of I-95 in Overtown moved in during the 1950s. An influx of Cuban immigrants also settled in during the 1960s after the Cuban Revolution. Immigrants from countries in Central America and the Caribbean followed.

Civil unrest in the 1980s made the area commericially undesirable, and it was then that Dominican businesses owners who were prepared to run shop fronts without insurance started to move in.

The small businesses of Little Santo Domingo and the affordable Allapattah housing for workers are in the path of development that is marching through the area, including nearby Wynwood, the heart of Miami’s Puerto Rican community.
“The essence of small businesses is being lost,” said Jasmely D. Jackson, daughter of Luis de la Cruz, who opened the Club Típico Dominicano 38 years ago on Northwest 36th Street and 13th Avenue.
“Obviously, there is a change,” she said. “We have to advance, but it is very sad because we no longer have many small businesses; they have had to close.”
The restaurant, which on weekends turns into a club that vibrates with merengue music, is to Dominicans what Versailles restaurant in Little Havana is to Cubans. I
t’s a meeting place, a place of entertainment, a place to find comfort food that’s just a few steps away from La Placita Dominicana, where you can find products from the Dominican Republic.
Burgos-Flores, of The Allapattah Collaborative CDC, doesn’t want tourism, development or construction at the expense of residents, especially the elderly, who depend on affordable housing.
“Years ago, you could buy a house in Allapattah for $100,000. Today, you can’t buy it even if you have $400,000,” she said. “Back then, a family could rent a two-bedroom apartment for $1,200. Today, several families have to live in a single house to pay the prices, which can reach $2,500.”


The Allapattah Collaborative is trying to respond to concerns like these. For example, the organization is working to buy commercial property in the area so that space for small businesses could remain accessible and affordable.

It recently launched the Thrive in Place fund to help raise money so that it can make that type of purchase. The Miami Foundation also recently invested $500,000 to the organization through its Open for Business program.

Sources: Miami Herald, WLRN.
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