Little Haiti : Urban Development Design Review Board. A Meeting with Miami City Council
Written by Joana Bates
Photographs by Joana Bates
Little Haiti is well known for being vibrant and rich in culture. Community members wish to preserve and encourage the culture to thrive and developers seem to be on board with preserving the culture.
The meeting kicked off by stating its intentions - a board to review the plan design.
What is an SAP?
An SAP is a "special area plan." Eastside Ridge is an SAP that does not yet have precise plans for its development. This proved to be a weakness and a strength for both the community and the developers.
The community members largely stated they wish to have more time to review and include other community members into the discussion regarding the changes including the look and feel of what may come with the project moving forward in relation to the height of buildings and population density. There were inquiries made regarding the cost of living, if the project construction would be outsourced to workers outside of the community, whether there will be workforce housing, if the community will be preserved culturally and architecturally, the duration of the project, and some voiced concerns regarding the traffic patterns. Most of the community speakers requested a deferment of the project to have enough time for the inclusion of absent and unaware community members to become educated on the topic of the project and to determine what the community may want collectively. A number of members revealed knowledge of the hearing as recent as the day of the the design review board for the project.
Currently the area is closed off from neighboring streets with little pedestrian access or traffic flow due to the residential areas and institutions nearby. According to the developers there is an opportunity to bring in pedestrian traffic throughout the neighborhood and the property. Developers are interested in opening up the traffic flow and allowing pedestrian access with limiting gates and including the construction of a train station and trolley to allow more transportation separate from that of vehicle traffic. Community members are uncertain whether the studies referenced by the developers are accurate to the community's needs. Community members feel that the change needs to have representation within the project regarding the design and project.
The community members are passionate and willing to be involved in the project. The developers are adamant about speaking with and involving the community as well as moving forward with the project.
Upon termination of the meeting it was decided the applicant should provide a complete application that will include revisions recommended by the board with a condition that there will be a charette to involve community members within 45 days in order to move forward with an approval from the board.