The National Trust for Historic Preservation today named Little Santo Domingo to its 2023 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. This annual list raises awareness about the threats facing some of the nation's greatest treasures and encourages community leaders to take action to protect them. The designation of Little Santo Domingo carries two key distinctions: it is the only Latino location on 2023’s list, and it is the first accredited Main Street America site to ever be featured on the list.
“Little Santo Domingo is a vibrant center of entrepreneurship and Dominican culture in Allapattah, one of Miami’s oldest neighborhoods. This commercial district is home to more than 300 distinctive small businesses that are fighting to survive,” said Katherine Malone-France, Chief Preservation Officer, National Trust for Historic Preservation. “As a Main Street community, Little Santo Domingo is developing a national model for how empowerment and ownership can be effective strategies for celebrating and protecting a historic neighborhood along with its culture and community.”
Little Santo Domingo is an eight-block commercial corridor that runs along NW 17th Avenue, from NW 28th Street to NW 36th Street. It is the bustling cultural heart of Allapattah, one of Miami’s oldest neighborhoods, located northwest of Downtown Miami and just a few blocks west of Wynwood. The entire neighborhood has seen rapid change and growing development interest in recent years, causing residential and commercial rents to skyrocket in what is already considered the nation’s most unaffordable city. Residents and family-owned, neighborhood-serving small businesses have been squeezed out and community members are concerned it could lose its Dominican cultural heritage. In 2019, the corridor received a Main Street America designation, making it part of a network of large and small communities across the country working to preserve locally owned, walkable commercial areas as a means of protecting community identity and fostering economic resilience.
“This designation from the National Trust should serve as a wake-up call, reminding our leaders of how special this community is and how development needs to take a balanced approach to preserve history and culture while still creating a vibrant, inclusive community,” said Mileyka Burgos-Flores, Chief Executive Officer and founding Executive Director of The Allapattah Collaborative CDC, a community-driven nonprofit working to prevent the area’s locally owned small businesses from being displaced, strengthen the neighborhood’s economic resilience and preserve its cultural legacy. “We want to ensure that growth and investment happen in an equitable manner so that our community members can be part of it. So that it’s a win for everyone.”
The Collaborative recently launched a Thrive In Place Fund, to raise monies that would support the acquisition of commercial properties in Allapattah and use a community land trust model to secure their permanent affordability so that they remain accessible to local entrepreneurs.
Built on Seminole land, Allapattah has been home to many different groups over the years. African Americans displaced by Interstate 95’s construction in nearby Overtown moved there in the 1950s. In the 1960s and ‘70s, following the Cuban Revolution, many Cuban immigrants settled in Allapattah, as did immigrants from other Caribbean and Central American countries escaping political turmoil. By 1975, Allapattah was 75 percent Hispanic. Civil unrest following the police killing of a Black motorist in the early 1980s heavily impacted the neighborhood’s 17th Avenue commercial corridor, an area subsequently revitalized by Dominican immigrants and more recently named “Little Santo Domingo” by the City of Miami.
"The Allapattah Collaborative’s efforts to preserve Little Santo Domingo's rich cultural identity and build local wealth while minimizing displacement are tremendous and we are proud to partner with them," said Hannah White, Interim President and CEO at Main Street America. "As the first designated Main Street community to be included on the list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, we look forward to uplifting their continued efforts to develop community-driven strategies to preserve the neighborhood’s unique heritage and to ensure long-term affordability for residents and businesses.”