$52 Million Lottery Winner To Rebuild Historic Black Community In South Florida
After winning $52 million lottery jackpot back in 2010, a Florida man has built his own real estate company and is using it in hopes of reviving a black business community in the state.
In a report from Black Enterprise, Miguel Pilgram launched The Pilgram Group after winning the lottery jackpot, and invested in properties throughout South Florida. Now, the businessman is focusing his efforts on reviving Sistrunk Boulevard, a part of downtown Fort Lauderdale that featured a thriving community for black businesses.
Named after James Sistrunk, a black physician who helped establish the first black hospital in Broward County in 1938, the boulevard was referred to as the “historical heartbeat of Fort Lauderdale’s oldest black community,” but went into decline following desegregation. To restore the area Pilgram has bought three buildings and plans to build a jazz lounge, blues lounge, restaurants, and a center for performing arts. Pilgram said he hopes that the development preserves the area for local residents.
“For me, it’s [about] preserving the community as a whole,” Pilgram said in an interview with NBC Miami. In a separate interview with The Sun-Sentinel he emphasized this, saying: “I was raised in a similar environment. There is a need, and in my mind, an obligation, to invest there.”
However, some community activists are still wary. Edduard Prince, a community activist and legal specialist said that foreign investors are “drooling” to invest in Sistrunk, with investors often stripping the areas of their cultural identity and displacing local residents through gentrification.
“The black residents of the community know that they’re in [a] prime location, they know that they’ve been fighting for years, and developers are drooling over the property,” Prince said to NBC Miami.