From Cuba to a river bed in Miami: Urban planning gone horribly wrong

On Friday, the Miami City Commission approved a new $14 million series of facilities for Little Haiti. If it weren’t for environmental issues and the stakes of global warming, it might have been a…

From Cuba to a river bed in Miami: Urban planning gone horribly wrong

On Friday, the Miami City Commission approved a new $14 million series of facilities for Little Haiti. If it weren’t for environmental issues and the stakes of global warming, it might have been a groundbreaking project.

In 2011, the Miami Marlins announced their intent to build a new stadium for their minor league affiliate in Little Haiti. By 2012, local developer Irving Moskowitz had come up with a visionary plan to build a major-league stadium for a baseball team, likely the Miami Marlins. The team, after all, has a long history in Miami, and is among the most successful franchises in the country. The Miami Herald reports that he donated to Barack Obama’s campaign.

It was a must-have project for Little Haiti, which is one of the area’s oldest and most successful neighborhoods. Residents originally worried the stadium would turn into a Donald Trump-type billionaire takeover, but in the end, they understood that’s not likely. They were to embrace a new neighborhood where Little Haiti residents would see new development brought to the area: retail, housing, banks, retail, construction.

But many community members were worried that the stadium would only encourage more development: an area long populated by Haitian community still lived in old huts. The oldest cemeteries in the area were within a half-mile of the stadium’s site.

Then flood waters came from the nearby sugar cane fields. About 100 acres of land were swamped. Moskowitz left the project.

What was going to happen to the area’s development? As David Harsanyi details in a post on The American Conservative, “Hurricane Irma washed away three high-rise apartment buildings and leveled the remaining homes in the neighborhood.” So now, as Miami’s population rises, its most vulnerable areas are underwater. Many property owners are now out of luck.

It’s hard to predict what will happen in the future. But for now, Little Haiti is looking more and more like New Orleans, and we should be worried.

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