Published on April 7th, 2015 in the Miami New Times. This exclusive original spawned stories in the Miami Herald, The Daily Mail, The Independent, Yahoo News, and elsewhere. It also became the Miami New Times’ top three most read stories of 2015 and won a first place Florida Press Association award:
Just a few paces from busy Brickell Avenue, Ishmael Bermudez crouches behind his little clapboard house and drinks serenely from a hose lowered into the ancient bedrock. Skyscrapers drape his property in shadows. Across the street, a Metrorail train clamors to a stop at an elevated station. All around, construction cranes pirouette in the sky over the latest wave of megadeveloment.
At 65 years old, Ishmael is a spritely, spirited man with a long, black braid and a gift for understatement. Some people call him by his Native American name, Golden Eagle. Most people just call him Ishmael. Perpetually draped in dusty work clothes, he cuts a slight figure and speaks with a sing-song lilt. He’s an amateur archaeologist, a preservationist, and among the longest-standing residents in this neighborhood of newcomers and runaway construction.
Now, as a new wave of foreign, cash-fueled property speculation cranks land values back into the stratosphere, he’s also turned into a real estate developer’s worst nightmare.
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