Once Again In Transition… The Story Of Little Havana Part I

Taken from an article we wrote last year about a neighborhood that we serve, love and know well…

Miami’s Little Havana is a neighborhood once again in transition. As such it is a land of opportunity for builders, real estate investors, and business entrepreneurs.

In the 1930’s this area of Miami was known as Riverside/Shenandoah. It was a thriving Jewish neighborhood populated primarily by those in the lower-middle-class. After Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, hundreds of thousands of Cubans fled to Miami in pursuit of the American dream. They brought their customs, their food, and their music, and before long, this section of the city became known as “Little Havana.” This influx has continued over the years, most noticeably during and after the Mariel boat lift of the 1980s.

Today Little Havana is accepted as the cultural and political capital of Cuban Americans. Although the population is changing once again, it is still the best known neighborhood for Cuban exiles in the world.

In 1979 84% of the population was Cuban. By 1989 the percentage had dropped to 58% as many residents migrated to Hialeah and Coral Gables. New immigrants from Nicaragua, Honduras, and other Central American countries took their place, and as of 2015, 89.5% of the population was Hispanic.

This may not be the case much longer: a fact which some residents embrace while others resist.

Some fear that changes and proposed changes in zoning, along with plans to rebuild Calle Ocho (Little Havana’s Main Street) could drastically alter the atmosphere in Little Havana.

Both residents and developers believe that the current state of Little Havana’s Calle Ocho is limiting growth and development. At present, it is a one-way highway through the neighborhood.

Calle Ocho is a place where fruit stands, art galleries, Cuban restaurants, and cigar shops line the avenue. It’s a community characterized by mom and pop businesses, music, political passion, and great warmth shared by its residents.
However, sidewalks are narrow and getting across the highway can be hazardous.

Those who love the neighborhood wish to turn it back into a two way street, with wide sidewalks that invite residents and tourists alike to linger, browsing the shops and enjoying the sights.

All agree that increased “walkability” is an important objective, but the final plan has not been nailed down. The Florida Department of Transportation has one idea, while local urbanists, developers, investors, and city officials are proposing an alternative. Link to article:
While change is inevitable, developers do appreciate and wish to preserve the unique atmosphere of Little Havana. In 2015, a portion of the neighborhood was placed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual list of 11 Most Endangered Places.

On the eastern end of the neighborhood, the South River Drive district has been designated as a U.S. Historic district since 1989. This district is also home to 9 historic buildings.

And, while new construction is underway, so is renovation. In fact, an energetic revitalization of Little Havana has already begun. Some of the cherished landmarks such as the Tower Hotel, Domino Park, Marti Park, and the Ball and Chain Club have already been renovated.

The big changes that residents might expect are an increase in housing units, more businesses in which to shop, and an expansion of multi-culturalism. Little Havana occupies an enviable location just south of the Health district, just west of Brickell/Downtown, and just east of Coral Gables. Thus it is situated in the center of Miami’s primary employment hubs.

Because the young generation of employees prefers living near their work place, the demand for housing in Little Havana continues to grow, and developers are trying to fill that need.

Opportunities abound in Little Havana. If you’d like to make them YOUR opportunities, get in touch. We will be happy to show you the commercial properties currently available.

On the next blog, we will touch on the Real Estate and financial demographics in Little Havana.


Your Trajan Investment Team – Assisting Commercial Real Estate Investors to Prosper!

Trajan Investments, Inc. A Commercial Real Estate Brokerage and Consulting Firm.

Ariel O. Diaz

Lic. Commercial Real Estate Professional


Claudia Splinter

Lic. Commercial Real Estate Professional