Last year we asked leaders in Miami’s neighborhoods, from urban planners to developers to preservationists, to share their aspirations for Miami’s neighborhoods in 2016. Eleven months later, we asked them to think about what worked, what didn’t, and where we’re headed.
Christine Rupp is the executive director of the Dade Heritage Trust, which works to preserve Miami’s rich historical buildings and neighborhoods. She was previously the executive director of the Coral Gables Museum.
“Miami’s neighborhoods are changing. There’s rising property values and space concerns, and with so much development in the Brickell Corridor, the logical choice is to push that density westward. … Without thoughtful development, you’ll also displace people and widen that well-known income gap between the very wealthy and very poor.”
It’s absolutely still true. But I can tell you that since I’ve been here, it’s amazing from Liberty City to Coconut Grove and points in between, residents are starting to become very active [about] having a voice in the future of their neighborhoods.
It’s especially extreme in Coconut Grove, where older homes are being bulldozed and those cube-y houses are being put in. The only way for concerned citizens to make a difference is in a group en masse and take a stand, because politicians want to be re-elected.
Many of those groups are enlisting the assistance of the Dade Heritage Trust for political support to see if we’ll join them in their arguments. But you have to do it right, and take the emotion out of it, look at the city code and figure out legally what people are allowed to do and not to do. It’s a lot of strategy and conversations that need to take place.
I’ve been in this job for a year and it’s way more political than I could have imagined. We’ve made some headway.
Many people living in Miami now have not been here for a long time, so one thing we’re working on is “How do you get new residents to experience the history and hang on to it so it helps tell the story of Miami?”
We’re presenting monthly bike tours that go through different areas of Miami and we’re doing weekly walking tours of Brickell trying to do it in a way that’s fun and educational and make people understand why this stuff is important.
“We’re also working with the National Trust for Historic Preservation on issues in Little Havana and trying to save the Miami Marine Stadium. By the end of this year, I do think that parts of Lemon City and Little Havana will be preserved.”
A month ago the City of Miami passed a resolution to create a bond for $45 million, and part of that will go to restoration of the Marine Stadium. That’s patience, persistence, and a group of people that stays on top of things in a way that’s not confrontational or argumentative. Rather than using the words “fighting” and “battling,” let’s “strategize,” without having to go negative.
In Little Havana I’m not at liberty to say just yet, but there’s going to be a major, positive announcement made in January.
Lemon City and Little Haiti is a little more problematic and we’re working with the city now. Specifically, there’s a building up there on NE 2nd Ave., one of the only remaining historic buildings …[that] is now owned by Metro 1 and there’s a huge plan for it. We’ve written them letters saying that it would be easy to save the facade and not let it all fall down.
Here’s the catch when there are historic buildings that someone has purchased and they let them fall in disrepair: some of those fall within the City of Miami’s code enforcement and historic preservation office to monitor and act accordingly. So we can assist when it comes to contacting the commissioners for the district or reaching out to the landowner so see how can we help save a building.
What’s one prediction you have for Miami’s neighborhoods in 2017?
Residents of neighborhoods are going to feel more empowered and more vocal about their neighborhoods and how they want them to evolve and change.
Read her 2016 resolutions here.