Miami Herald building's future at stake
COCONUT GROVE, Fla. (WSVN) -- Preservationists are going head-to-head with developers as a local landmark in South Florida faces a historic decision.
Preservationists gathered at Miami City Hall to discuss the fate of the Miami Herald building, Monday. They want the building to stay, but developers want to tear it down and build a brand new resort.
"The Miami Herald" no longer owns the building. It is owned by a developer that has plans to start building a resort that will include casinos, hotels, restaurants and luxury retail.
Though the building has been called the jewel of Biscayne Bay, the preservation board will have to decide whether or not the building has any historical value to the area.
The board received a Miami history lesson at the hearing with different preservationists taking them back in time and talking about the area, back in the 1940s, when it was home to department stores, and then into the 1960s, when the building was built.
Miami Historian Arva Moore Parks said the building is historic to South Florida. "Because it was built and occupied by people, they are monuments to those people long after their gone, and monuments to the era and the life in which they were constructed," said Parks.
They spoke specifically about the architectural style of the building, which is known as the Miami modern style or MiMo for short, which has become significant to South Florida. However, Genting consulting architect Richard Heisenbottle said, "The building is clumsy. It is squat in its sense of scale and proportion. It discourages pedestrian access and activities. It blocks vista to the bay. Its vast expanse of parking lots disconnects it from the neighborhood. Its designer was never highly regarded. It is simply not a good work of architecture of any level. "
Preservationists argued that the building is a symbol of growth and change in Miami. The building became home to the Herald when they outgrew their original building, and it became the birthplace of "El Nuevo Herald," the second largest Spanish publication in the country, which again is significant because of how Miami's demographics have changed.
The Dade Heritage Trust said the building is significant to the people attached to it. Some of those people include the Knight brothers whose family bought the newspaper in the late 1930s and eventually moved their corporate headquarters to South Florida.
Becky Matkov, the Chief Executive Officer of the Dade Heritage Trust, added, "We are especially gratified to see that the Miami Herald's official age has been dated to '61, '62 making it over 50 years old and resolving a point that some found to be an issue."
The age is critical because some say the age that should be looked at is when the building was occupied by the Herald, which was in 63, but the building was actually built in 62 and that is the year that the planning department in the City of Miami is going for and therefore saying the building is in fact 50 years old, which is important to whether or not it can be named a historic building.
If the building is demolished, it could come down in May of 2013, which is when the Herald plans to move to Doral.
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