- Faith & Family
For 50-year old Cuthbert Harewood, Jr., the idea for the “18th Avenue Initiative” was inspired by his nostalgia for the neighborhood.
“I remembered as a kid that there were a ton of businesses on that street — you could just walk from one business to the next,” said Harewood, who is a native of Liberty City.
The neighborhood had changed since his youth, with many of the former businesses having closed or left the community. Yet the memory of its former glory days has remained with him for years.
Finally, when he left his job at the Miami Herald, Harewood felt 18th Avenue calling him. He decided to answer the calling.
“I wanted to return to my neighborhood and take care of my people,” he explained.
That was the beginning of what he would later name the “18th Avenue Initiative.”
His ‘initiative’ began when he purchased a laundry mat at 6840 NW 18th Avenue in 1997. It has since grown to include a hair salon, food market and a clothing store housed among several rental properties. They all run along 18th Avenue and are concentrated between 62nd and 71st streets. Eventually, he formed the property management company, Broadway Productions, Inc., to handle his properties.
So far, the businesses are doing well. But Harewood was not surprised considering the dense residential area surrounding the corridor.
“It never made sense for somebody to get a house and then have to travel so far to get their goods,” he explained. “[People] have to have a place to service them as far as [offering] jobs and places to buy their goods.”
However, Harewood is aware that total revitalization for the neighborhood does not rest solely in his hands. He hopes that others, including individuals, local government entities and non-profit organizations, not to mention major corporations, will see what is happening and be inspired to invest here in Liberty City too.
“By increasing people’s economic status with jobs or simply finding ways to raise their quality of life, I think folks will see a great rebirth in the 18th Avenue area,” said Patrick Owen, Harewood’s business partner.
In addition to his entrepreneurial efforts, Harewood also provides various free services and goods through his non-profit organization, Turn A Coin. The organization has done everything from providing free toy and hair cut giveaways to recognizing school crossing guards’ efforts to keep students safe.
By Kaila Heard