The gentrification debate: How can a neighborhood grow while staying true to its roots?

Bass Bros. Supermarket sits on a corner in Fort Lauderdale’s black community described as the “Main Street and First” of the area by a lawyer-lobbyist representing developer Eyal Peretz.

Peretz plans to close down that market to build a multi-retail office space and parking garage, potentially leaving residents without a source of fresh groceries in an area already labeled a “food desert,” which the U.S. Department of Agriculture defines as a low-income urban or suburban area in which residents have more than a mile to reach a supermarket.

It’s just the latest story the South Florida Sun Sentinel has covered in the ongoing redevelopment of neighborhoods around Sistrunk Boulevard, the heart of Fort Lauderdale’s black community. A long string of projects is in the works in the area, and residents fear it will act to drain money from the area.

They’re hardly alone. Redevelopment of black communities around South Florida has caused consternation for locals. As much as the Sun Sentinel has followed projects along Sistrunk Boulevard, the Miami Herald has kept watch on redevelopment in Little Haiti, most recently in an op-ed by local activist France Francois, who wrote that a major project there similar to the one envisioned by Peretz for the Sistrunk area was not only gentrification but the misappropriation of a Haitian symbol of resistance to colonial repression.

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