Mop City’s final cut with Transit Village

Miami Times Editorial Department | 3/13/2014, 9 a.m.

Derek Alderman, a cultural geographer at East Carolina University, conducted a recent survey found over 730 streets in the U.S. are named after Dr. Martin Luther King. It was also discovered that most of those streets are in run-down, inner-city neighborhoods with boarded-up businesses and high crime rates.

One of them is in Liberty City.

For the longest time NW 7th Avenue and 62nd Street has been in an economic slump. Businesses have come and gone. Shops have folded and one development plan after another have fallen through.

No plan has come this close to success as the Transit Village Project, a plan that would may finally rid the district of urban blight and decay with its shops, theatre and high rise apartment units.

The district has much history. The epicenter of the infamous Arthur McDuffie Riots in 1980, the Martin Luther King Economic District as it is known, was a bustling thoroughfare of shops and restaurants, from Cozzoli’s Pizzeria to Greene’s Dream Shoe Repair, a mom and pop institution that was unceremoniously closed two years ago after 40 years in business.

The last of these businesses standing is Mop City Barbershop, a salon once known for its razor cut fades and everyday conversations among professionals, celebrities and local residents. The shop has fallen on hard times as traffic dwindled when developers closed and demolished nearby buildings. As with most projects, the process was slow but nevertheless, Mop City took a cut.

AIP has offered Mop City’s owner, Johnny Cheeley, a space in its new village. Cheeley is weary of the developer’s intentions after a few bad starts, but that’s a circumstance common with construction projects. Everyone makes mistakes.

That’s why Mop City landlord’s offer to sell the building for a whopping $5 million is so detrimental in bringing the two sides together to work out a solution for the common good.

There are no winners on this one. Mop City needs the Transit Village and The Transit Village needs the history and heritage of Mop City to grace its complex. District Three County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson should seek ways to bring the two sides together to build a healthy dialogue and resolution that would transform Martin Luther King Boulevard and Business District into a promise land that the nation can truly emulate.