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Herald - December 1, 2006
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LITTLE HAITIProject aims to revitalize Second AvenueBusinessmen,
community leaders and residents have launched a new initiative to
restore Northeast Second Avenue to its glory days as a commercial hub.
By Tania Valdemoro
his daily morning drive to work in Little Haiti, Samuel Diller sees
vacant land, dilapidated buildings and street merchants selling peanuts
and paper towels.
The sights remind him of the entrepreneurial
spirit of its people and of the declining quality of the neighborhood.
He can't help but ask himself, ``What can I do to improve Little
Several community leaders, business leaders and
residents with those same concerns came together with Diller, the
executive director of Little Haiti Housing Association, last year to
form the Northeast Second Avenue Partnership.
include the Biscayne Boulevard Chamber of Commerce, Little Haiti
Redevelopment Group, Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center and the Little
Haiti Neighborhood Enhancement Team.
''In the 1960s and 1970s,
Northeast Second Avenue was a vibrant economic corridor. The whole
vision is to create a sense of place,'' Diller said.
past year, the partnership developed the North East 2nd Avenue
Revitalization Project, whose purpose is to redevelop the commercial
corridor along Northeast Second Avenue from 79th Street to the Little
River, a process that would take 15 to 20 years.
According to a
draft report, a more stable environment in Little Haiti would provide
opportunities for economic growth and make the neighborhood a more
attractive place for residents to stay and get involved.
vision of the project is to encourage mixed-use and mixed-income
developments; renovate existing buildings, restore historically
significant structures; and bring in new businesses that complement
rather than compete with existing businesses, the draft report said.
Meyer, president of the Northeast Second Avenue Partnership, said the
project aims to spur the area's economic development along four
dimensions following a statewide model of downtown revitalization
program called Florida Main Street.
Meyer said he is encouraged
that County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson and City Commissioner Michelle
Spence-Jones have each said they like what the partnership is trying to
Still, there is a lot of work to be done, he admits.
The partnership is now talking to business owners and managers to gauge their interest in being part of the project.
group is also applying for grants and meeting with potential donors. It
is also recruiting volunteers to work on any of four committees:
organization, design, promotion and economic restructuring.
group plans to host a street event to raise people's awareness of the
project in the near future, but a date has not been set, Meyer said.