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Miami City Commission is getting close to voting on a billion-dollar real estate project in Little Haiti, that could change the neighborhood forever. Proponents of the Magic City Innovation District say that the massive development, will put Little Haiti on the international tourism map. The project will include 17 acres of residential, commercial, office, research and entertainment spaces. Two years ago, the City of Miami designated Little Haiti as an official neighborhood, which raised concerns about real estate developers and speculators buying up land and raising rents.

Lucien S. Barrau, who operates the Miami franchise of the international firm Signarama, is among those seeing benefits. He relocated his business to 250 NE 61st St. in November 2016 and is about to add a sixth employee because he’s been busy making banners, building signage and printing documents for the Innovation District.

“There are differences of opinion, but I don’t think they will ever be able to satisfy everyone,” Barrau said. “I have seen them doing a lot of reaching out. When I started out in 2005, I couldn’t come [to Little Haiti] and do any business. It wasn’t a safe area and a lot of businesses were closed. Now I see a difference. Things are starting to change. Culturally, Little Haiti has always been very important, but it had been closed off from the rest of the world. The Innovation District will open up the area to others.”

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