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#4659: New Creole Market will open on weekends (fwd)
From: Rosann Clements <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Published Thursday, July 20, 2000, in the Miami Herald
New Creole Market will open on weekends
BY GARIOT LOUISNA
The Mache Kreyol is designed to stand out.
Vendors selling fruit, musicians playing compas and artists displaying
authentic Haitian paintings and carvings are supposed to bring to Little
Haiti a sense of self and a boost that will revitalize the area's economy.
Only a dream? The Haitian American Foundation says the Mache Kreyol, or the
79th Street Creole Market and Cultural Center, will hold a grand opening at
10 a.m. July 29. Performances and other activities are planned July 29-30 at
the market, 130 NE 79th St.
The Creole Market, which has been in development for two years, will be open
Saturdays and Sundays year-round. It will feature a royal palm court
bordered by vendor booths and an open-air performing arts center.
Vendors will feature produce, baked goods, plants and flowers and
traditional Haitian arts and crafts. The performing arts center will host
everything from local Haitian bands to small groups that simply want an
Most important, said program manager Brenda Trigg, it will be a
``The community doesn't have a focal point,'' Trigg said. ``In Haiti, the
market serves that function. We used that to come up with the idea -- it's
very culturally relevant.''
It will cost the foundation nearly $800,000 to put the first two elements of
the market in place. The first -- the palm court and bordering vendor
booths -- will cost $350,000. The second -- an extended vendor area and
public gardens -- is estimated to cost about $450,000.
The performing arts center is estimated to cost $525,000, while the office
space for the foundation to manage the market on site is going to cost
$850,000, said Leonie Hermantin, executive director for HAFI.
While the market is finally opening, questions still remain about whether
Little Haiti, one of the poorest areas in Miami-Dade County, will be able to
support such a place.
``I don't have a crystal ball,'' Hermantin said. ``We're working very hard
to make it a success. What else has been the alternative to economic
Haitian businessman Michel Lubin, who owns much of the property on Second
Avenue from 78th to 79th streets, said he thinks HAFI's plan for economic
development may go the route of the failed Caribbean Market.
That market, at 5927 NE Second Ave., cost $1.2 million in public funds to
build. For a time it was a tourist attraction and a center of Haitian
intellectualism. But the Caribbean Market lost its appeal to outsiders. In
1997, the state of Florida and the city of Miami foreclosed on the property.
Today, it looms over Second Avenue, an eyesore to passersby and a reminder
to the community of an investment gone bad.
``The same thing will happen again,'' Lubin predicted.
Organizers say while Lubin's concerns are valid, his comparisons between the
two projects are not accurate.
``The only similarities between the Creole Market and the Caribbean Market
are the names,'' Hermantin said. ``The old project was focused on bringing
tourists, mostly catering to the idea that the Haitian middle class would be
the basic consumer. This project is geared toward local consumption.''
Hermantin said the Caribbean Market's downfall also lay in its design. The
colorful building modeled after Haiti's Iron Market is intimidating,
Hermantin said. ``The fees charged at the Caribbean Market were
exorbitant -- people couldn't pay rent. They had a heavy debt burden. We're
supported by grants.''
She added: ``You have to be risky, be creative and hope to help people out
of poverty. Ghettoization is allowing entrepreneurs to set up business on
the city streets without structure. That is the antithesis of what we're
trying to do.''
As a microbusiness incubator, Hermantin said, the Creole Market will bring
together under one canopy the countless vendors peddling their wares along
Little Haiti streets.
``The whole objective is job creation,'' Hermantin said. ``We're dealing
with folks who have the desire, will and drive, but folks who don't have the
basic skills to survive in this society.''