Little Havana, the neighborhood that is the heart and soul of Miami’s Cuban diaspora, was named a US “national treasure” on Friday.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a private organization, added the neighborhood to its list of sites it believes should be protected from developers, saying in a statement that it “stands as a testament to the immigrant spirit that built America.”

Little Havana is home to the Versailles, a historic cafe that pulses with Cuban music and sometimes offers free Cuban pastries to exiles who gather there to protest or celebrate events on their home island.

Several blocks away in Domino Park, dozens of retirees play the eponymous game amid sometimes heated political discussions every afternoon. Nearby, the city’s most popular Cuban salsa club is a must-see tourist destination. There’s also a museum of weapons, photos and documents from veterans of the ill-fated 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion.

However, Little Havana‘s residents now worry about being forced out by real estate development and rising prices.

“Little Havana is a symbol of the immigrant experience in America,” the historic trust’s president Stephanie Meeks said. “The National Trust welcomes the urban resurgence that is breathing new life into cities across the country, but we also believe that growth should not come at the expense of the vibrant historic neighborhoods like Little Havana.”

The buildings, some them Art Deco, date back to the 1920s and 1930s. On the commercial hub Calle Ocho, or Eighth Street, many buildings have coral-colored floors. But the burgeoning downtown and Brickell neighborhoods — with their modern 20-story buildings — are expanding toward Little Havana.

“As Miami continues to evolve, preservation will be essential in maintaining Miami’s unique urban neighborhoods,” Miami-Dade County heritage trust director Christine Rupp said. “Our long-term goal is to protect specific historic properties that tell the story of Little Havana and assist with the restoration of those historic buildings.”

Some 1.5 million Cubans live in the United States, 68 percent of them in Florida, according to the Pew Research Center.


Source: Yahoo!News

Miami’s Urban Development Review Board gave the thumbs up to three mixed-use projects in Brickell, Coconut Grove and Little Havana.

Maizon by Zom rendering

Maizon by Zom rendering

The board voted 4-0 to recommend approval for Zom’s new apartment tower in the Brickell neighborhood. The board’s Wednesday vote allows the Orlando-based developer to now seek the go-ahead from Miami planning director Francisco Garcia for Maizon, a 262-unit residential building with 15,258 square feet of ground floor retail space.

“Very nice work,” said board member Jesus Permuy of the project’s design. “I like the articulation of the building.” Agreed his colleague Anthony Tzamtzis: “It is a very good project.”

Permuy did recommend a few minor design changes such as improving the landscaping in the building’s setback areas as well as the facade by adding a three-dimensional element.

Zom, which has a contract to purchase land owned by Maria Ramon and Alberto Cabrera, would demolish low- to mid-rise apartment buildings at 1100-1142 Southwest Second Avenue and 221-237 Southwest 12th Street and replace them with the new tower. The project will consist of 424,258 square feet with 366 parking spaces and 24 bicycle spaces. It will also include open courtyard areas, an amenity deck and pool on the ninth floor, and an onsite residential leasing center.

Zom sought approval recommendations of four waivers, including a 30 percent reduction in parking, a 10 percent reduction in a driveway width and to replace the required commercial loading zone with two residential loading zones.

Cassa Grove rendering

Cassa Grove rendering

The development review board also approved plans for Cassa Grove, a 116-unit, 200,000-square-foot project at 2900 Southwest 28th Lane that is located near the 10-mile long Underline.

“This building has a lot of potential in redeveloping this area,” said boardmember Felix Perez. “This is the type of project that this park needs.”

The 12-story project is being developed by Miami-based MEC Development Associates and B Developments and New York-based Abington Properties. The transit-oriented development features luxury apartments ranging from 652 square feet to more than 1,300 square feet, a 3,600-square-foot commercial component, and shared workspaces for residents. It will also feature a public plaza on the ground floor and a sky deck.

In order to make the project work, the developers sought four waivers, including a 10 percent reduction in parking. ALFA SF Equity and B Developments bought the 1-acre property for $6.1 million.

“We are trying to make a nice, high-end apartment building,” said B Development principal Miguel Angel Barbagallo. “We are very committed to linking with the Underline. I think it is a great public space.”

Eight and First rendering

Eight and First rendering

The board also approved Eight and First Development’s plans for a 12-story, 96-unit residential building at 45 Southwest Eighth Avenue in Little Havana. The property owners, Ana V. and Pedro O. Rodriguez, submitted plans for the mixed-use project to include 44,525 square feet of commercial space, 311 parking spaces and 15 bicycle parking spaces. The retail space will be anchored by a 35,930 square foot Presidente Supermarket.


Source: The Real Deal