Fabiola Fleuranvil is a real estate investor and community activist in the area. She is trying to educate local residents about the rising value of their properties.
“All the community sees is just new people, newcomers coming into the community, buying up properties, raising their property values and property taxes, pricing them out,” Fleuranvil said while walking down the street with the $599,000 listing. “You’re in a pocket where there could be $80,000 to $100,000 properties, and here’s one here, an outlier, that’s about half a million dollars.”
The home, which was purchased out of foreclosure by an investor, was fully renovated and will likely sell to another investor.
“If you have a smart investor and developer, and he’s already seeing what’s happening with one smart property, and he acquires the rest of the properties next to it, within a quick year or two, you’ll see this community change. And it’s happened pretty rapidly,” Fleuranvil said.
It is already apparent on the busy retail street by the home. An entire row of formerly Haitian-owned businesses are empty and being gutted. On one side of the street, a sleek and trendy high-end coffee company has already moved in, in stark contrast to the ethnic stores.
“You have long-time commercial tenants who have been here for 10, 15, 20 years, and new investors and developers no longer want their rent checks. Why? Because now, they’re redeveloping it,” said Fleuranvil.
Part of what is behind Little Haiti’s gentrification, however, is just the growing trend toward urbanism. It has nothing to do with water. Millennials in cities across the nation are migrating to urban centers, choosing less expensive and more ethnic neighborhoods to inhabit. Investors, however, while following demand, are increasingly attuned to the threat of water and are developing projects in higher-elevation neighborhoods at a faster pace.
Miami native David Martin’s Terra Group, a commercial and residential developer, just finished a luxury waterfront condominium tower in Coconut Grove, with sweeping water views, and is building more next door. He is also building a $162 million residential and commercial development on 5 acres adjoining a metro rail station further inland.
“I would say water, for a firm like ours, is becoming a decision maker, as it relates to strategies for investment. I definitely do,” said Martin.
Martin said he “embraces the analysis” in Keenan’s study but believes many factors go into the financial decision of buying and selling real estate beyond just water risk and elevation. He added that the study does not bring in flood mitigation enough, specifically how waterfront towers will actually help protect Miami from future flood disasters.