With reports this week from The New MiamiHerald Times that development around Little Haiti is expected to drastically increase, and news that the 28-story Design Place complex is moving forward, residents of the neighborhood and well-intentioned white people on Facebook are very concerned about its impact on the majority-Haitian community. According to real estate developer Philip E. Breckinridge, however, the Gentrific-Haitian™ of Little Haiti should be celebrated.
Speaking to The Plantain at an unfortunately named “Lemon City Party,” the developer (who claims he didn’t know what a Lemon Party is until after he had the banner printed) unveiled the “Lemon City Master Plan,” named after Little Haiti’s former name that is still widely used by developers because it lacks the negative connotations associated with lots of black-looking people living in a neighborhood.
“The impact of the Haitian community on Miami is important and as we completely change every square inch of what they have spent decades building we intend to honor those contributions,” said Mr. Breckinridge outside of a warehouse complex he owns on NE 59th Terrace that will soon be the site of a half-filled luxury apartment complex financed by Chinese investors.
In addition to blocks of high-rise luxury residential condominiums, the Master Plan also calls for several mixed-use commercial shopping malls, a Whole Foods that will “honor” the Haitian community by serving Haitian patties (to be renamed “Flaky Beef Sliders”), two Panther Coffees, several awful taco shops, an improv comedy club, a high-end patio furniture store no one will ever go into, a co-working space funded by The Knight Center, an Equinox fitness center, a store that just sells white t-shirts for $75, three juice bars, and a diner with a fucking DJ in it.
“We understand that residents are concerned that their neighborhood will change. But this will always be Little Haiti. It will just have to become an Even Littler Haiti,” said Mr. Breckinridge as a group of young black men walked by him causing him to flinch and instinctively shout “I don’t have any change.”