One of Miami’s most historic, yet distressed neighborhoods – Opa-locka – is in the midst of a major revitalization. Funded by a blend of public and private investment, including grants by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Opa-locka Community Development Corporation (OLCDC) is working to transform a city stigmatized by decades of crime and adversity into a Community of Choice with art.
Rather than displacement or gentrification, the holistic program is based on community involvement and empowerment. The blueprint for the new Opa-locka includes the creation of jobs, quality housing, engaged citizens and public art. The ambitious undertaking, which is well on its way, will literally change the face of Opa-locka for generations, and serve as a model for other US cities as they tackle similar challenges.
Pioneering this vision is Willie Logan, Ph.D., former Opa-locka mayor and state representative who heads the OLCDC. He has enlisted the support of program partners like the Miami-Dade County Art in Public Places Program, Habitat for Humanity, Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), the Children’s Trust, Florida Education Fund, Urban League and the South Florida Workforce.
This inspirational project has generated immense interest from the arts and urban planning community, with many vying for the opportunity to get involved. With the support of Miami-Dade County Art in Public Places Program, a national call to artists resulted in over 200 entries. Four teams, established and respected names in their fields, were picked to co-create public art spaces and devise a master plan. The ideas being put forth are breakthrough.