In the 1980s, thousands of Haitian immigrants settled in Miami, and the neighborhood of Little Haiti began to form. The building that would become this Haitian marketplace was originally constructed in 1936, but sat unused at the time. In 1984, the Miami Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, in cooperation with the nonprofit Haitian Task Force, organized a competition for designs to repurpose the building. Miami architect Charles Harrison Pawley, who was born in Haiti to American parents and lived there as a child, won the contract. Pawley based his design on Haiti's gingerbread-style houses and the Marche Ferrier (Iron Market) in the capital of Port-au-Prince. He also used vibrant colors to evoke the spirit of the Caribbean. When the marketplace opened in 1990, it won a Florida Architect Award and an American Institute of Architects National Honor Award. In 1999, the market closed as funds used to maintain the building dwindled, and merchants were unable to support their businesses. The city acquired the building in 2005 and planned to tear it down, but protest from the Haitian community and other local groups saved it. The marketplace remains a focal point for Haitian business and culture in Miami.