Fillmore's future looks bright
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) -- The curtain will keep rising at the Jackie Gleason Theater on Miami Beach. Efforts to save the stage from demolition have paid off.
The former home of "the Jackie Gleason Show" was saved by Miami Beach residents.
A developer bidding for the redevelopment of the Miami Beach Convention Center Campus has decided not to demolish the theater. "As we talked to more people," said Ambrish Baisiwala, "we realized that the facility itself was also important, so we basically went back to a study we had done earlier, which kept the Gleason."
South Florida residents were happy to hear the news. "I know they wanted to make more convention space," said Barbara Khan, "but it would be sad to see something like that, an architectural gem go."
Freddie Melero also agrees with the decision. "I think it's great news," said Melero. "We definitely need it in the community."
The new plan includes a remodeled theater. It will house concerts and a unique Cirque Du Soleil show, something not everyone is thrilled about. Lauren Reskin, owner of Sweat Records, said, "To have a steady show taking up the best nights, which obviously they'd be picking, I think it would be really hard to book other things around that."
Reskin supports the opposing team bidding for the project, South Beach Ace. That group said, "The type of major changes that the Portman Team is now proposing to their plan raises serious questions about whether they really have an understanding of the site and its needs and wishes of the community in the way that we do. We hope the citizens of Miami Beach as well as the commission will give preference to the team that has been guided by the principles important to stake holders from the start."
Both plans include a new convention center and hotel, green space, cultural building, and retail space to make the area an everyday destination for visitors and residents alike. "When there's no convention in town," said Baisiwala, "there's a number of things going on over here, which add to the appeal of the overall area."
The public will have a chance to evaluate and comment on these plans at a hearing at Miami Beach City Hall on May 15. After that, the commission will choose one plan in June followed by a public referendum that will happen in November.
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