According to the Miami Herald, a two-bedroom unit in Miami's Little Havana neighbood that sold for $55,000 in 2002 is being replaced by high rise development and spiraling real estate prices. “Little Havana used to be a quiet neighborhood where you could walk down Eighth Street from Home Depot calmly,” says resident Luz Pabon. “Now there’s traffic all the time and cars are clogging the streets. It’s too commercial. What has happened here is a catastrophe. This is no longer for us. We’re tired of it.”

The plight of the residents of Habana Condos — a 16-unit building built in 1973 where the owners must be 55 or older — is increasingly common in Miami-Dade. The scarcity of land has led developers and investors to push into residential areas such as Little Havana, Allapattah and Little Haiti. In the process, neighborhood economies and the quality of life for working-class residents are tanking.

With gentrification often comes ruinous traffic, noise and construction. And many of the residents living in the affected areas don’t have the financial means to relocate. But Pabon, who is the president of the Habana Condos association, has an escape plan. She and 12 other of the 16 condo owners in the building — some of whom paid as little as $25,500 for their units — have contracted a broker to help them sell the property at an asking price of $5.2 million.

That would work out to an average of $325,000 per unit — enough for Pabon and fellow owners to pay off their existing mortgages and find new, quieter places to live. If the building sells, the three holdouts will also get their cut. The sale of the building — known as condo termination — is the only way out of a dire situation for people like Pabon, who still owes $35,000 on her unit. She receives a monthly social security check of $447 and earns a little extra cash cleaning apartments and altering clothes.

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