Google Ads help pay the expense of maintaining this site
Click Here for the Neighborhood Transformation Website
10/7/04 - Miami Herald
Fair Use Disclaimer
Neighborhood Transformation is a nonprofit,
noncommercial website that, at times, may contain copyrighted material
that have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright
owner. It makes such material available in its efforts to advance the
understanding of poverty and low income distressed neighborhoods in
hopes of helping to find solutions for those problems. It believes that
this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as
provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. Persons wishing to
use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of their own that
go beyond 'fair use' must first obtain permission from the copyright
NORTH CENTRAL DADE
Couple's community work lauded
An enterprising couple spent $500,000 to acquire
and renovate a dilapidated building that is now a mini-shopping plaza housing three
By Brighton Watambwa
A building that stood as an eyesore is now a mini-shopping plaza that houses a grocery
store, barber shop and beauty salon, bringing an economic boost for a community
that needs it.
Phillips Plaza, a 10,000-square-foot building at 9100 NW 17th Ave., was dedicated
Saturday with guests including Miami-Dade Commissioner Dorrin Rolle and Miami-Dade
mayoral candidate Jimmy Morales.
The owners, Elrod and Veronica Williams, said they spent three years and about $500,000
-- 80 percent of it their own money.
The couple received some assistence from Miami-Dade County, the Office of Community
and Economic Development and the Community Development Block Grant program, as well
as the Neighbors and Neighbors Association (NANA), a grass-roots organization.
The grocery store includes a full kitchen that offers shoppers hot meals any time.
Rolle made the first breakfast purchase.
Elrod Williams' vision for the shop is a ''growing as a community-based store.''
The business now employs 14 people and he hopes to begin a pick-up and drop-off
trolley service that will shuttle elderly people to the store and back to their
homes early next year.
The barber shop is called Classy Cuts.
Williams, who was born in the Virgin Islands, followed in his father's footsteps
and became a builder. With his wife Veronica's help, he designed the plaza in a
''I'm a builder. I wanted to get away from the usual beer and cigarettes,'' he said,
referring to other stores in the area.
''Setting up the plaza was a task and at times we got frustrated,'' Veronica Williams
said. ``Every dollar we had we put into this building. Any property we had we sold
it and put all the money in here.''
Their main inspiration for the plaza were their four children, whom they wanted
to grow up proud of their parents and to show them that they can make a difference.
On that score they don't have to worry.
''They did a great job and they're the best parents in the world,'' said son Eldridge,
13. ``It was hard work and they came home late often.''
But the parents have even bigger plans. They want to acquire another rundown building
next to the plaza and convert it into a meat and fish market in the next few months.
In the longer term, they hope to buy land and build up to 300 homes for low-income
Their work so far has already attracted attention. State Rep. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall,
D-Miami, presented them with a county proclamation acknowledging their work in their
Tangie White, director of economic development for Miami-Dade County, complimented
the Williamses for investing time and money to buy and revitalize the old building.
And she felt ``honored to make the acquaintance of Elrod and Veronica. They are
just great people.''
Leroy Jones, director of NANA, said the couple showed others they, too, can make
contributions toward the community. Residents should support the businesses in the
plaza, he said.
Residents were already impressed.
''I watched him from the time he started building this place,'' said Cecil Monford,
48, who lives across the street from the plaza. ``It's good for my family and it's
a good black economic footprint.''
For Viola Blackshear, 77, it means no long trips for some services.
''I think it's nice to have this in the area,'' she said. ``We don't have to go
so far anymore.''