Art Deco Weekend Program Guide - 2016 - Page 12

PRESERVATION DIFFERING VISIONS FOR NORTH BEACH Residents of North Beach helped defeat a ballot measure that would have permanently changed the character of their historic neighborhood. development group purchased a significant A number properties on a block straddling Ocean Terrace and Collins Avenue, where zoning limitations currently limit the height of new construction to 75 feet. The developer asked the City Commission to increase height limits as well as the allowable floor area (FAR) that they were permitted to build. The concept for revitalization of the area was an ultra-luxury condo-hotel with a 250-foot tall tower, 70 luxury condominiums, 200 hotel rooms, and an unspecified number of retail spaces complete with indoor parking. Unfortunately, up to 11 contributing historic structures were proposed to be demolished to make way for the project. Just as South Beach is now considered Art Deco central, North Beach has its own architectural DNA with a large concentration of Miami Modern structures, commonly referred to as ‘MiMo.’ The style dates back to the post-World War II late 1940s and features acute angles, delta wings, sweeping curved walls, and soaring pylons, built with an exotic and eccentric range of materials including architectural screen block, crab orchard stone, high-grade marble, and rare hardwoods. Its definitive style has helped North Beach be recognized by the National Register of Historic Places for two of its distinctive neighborhoods — Normandy Isles and the North Shore. Residents had mixed feelings about the upzoning proposal and the direction it would take North Beach. Preservationists were concerned that the new 250-foot tower would overwhelm the mostly low-rise historic district. 10 ART DECO WEEKEND Olsen Hotel and the North Shore Bandshell. (Imagine a skyscraper on top of an Art Deco building on Ocean Drive.) The number of structures proposed to be demolished also seemed excessive – although the plans were not finalized and would require Historic Preservation Board approval, with or without upzoning. The issue of preservation is a sensitive one in North Beach following the recent demolition of the Biltmore Terrace, a Morris Lapidus-designed hotel that was bulldozed in order to make room for another ultra-luxury condo high-rise residence. In addition, in 2014 the Historic Preservation Board voted unanimously to create 2 local historic districts in North Beach, but these were cancelled within 24 hours by the City Commission, which has ultimate authority on the creation of districts. Some question