Our Positions at the Sep 8 2020 Historic Preservation Board

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September 7th 2020

TO: Chair and Members, Historic Preservation Board

FROM: Advocacy Committee, Miami Design Preservation League

SUBJECT: Applications before the Board on September 8th 2020

MDPL’s Advocacy Committee has reviewed the following applications and offers these findings for your consideration. The underlined portions are new or amended positions. Please note, we were not able to review all projects on this agenda. The lack of a position on a project does not indicate support or opposition to that project.

Full Board Agenda Link: click here


2. HPB19-0365, 1225 & 1235 Lenox Avenue

Advocacy Position 6/20/20

MDPL continues to oppose the demolition of 1235 Lenox Avenue until an additional, independent engineering evaluation may be conducted that takes into account historic preservation incentives which include restoration and rehabilitation that are not subject to certain regulations for new construction. 

3. HPB19-0349, 910 Marseille Drive and 7116 Bay Drive

Advocacy Position 7/10/20

We oppose the design of the proposed new building based on non-compliance with criteria (including setback, height, etc). Ordinance is supposed to apply to preservation of contributing buildings, but this is a vacant lot which is unifying title with adjacent historic structure. NPS Standard #9, new construction shall be distinct and compatible with historic district buildings. Concern about compatibility in design features with the surrounding district. “New additions, exterior alterations, or related new construction shall not destroy historic materials that characterize the property. The new work shall be differentiated from the old and shall be compatible with the massing, size, scale, and architectural features to protect the historic integrity of the property and its environment.”

4. HPB20-0386, 7835 Harding Avenue

Advocacy Position 6/20/20

The loss of this vernacular building is another step in erasing a segment of the City’s architectural evolution. Historic preservation as defined by City statute and the Secretary’s guidelines indicate that structures which are representative of an era or a style are essential to understanding the architectural development and history of Miami Beach.

5. HPB20-0377, 3120 Collins Avenue (Generator Hotel)

Advocacy Position

MDPL opposes the demolition of the garage building for 3127 Indian Creek Drive as proposed by the applicant. MDPL believes that this structure in concert with the residence is an essential element of both the architectural and social history of the city. Its demolition will:

  • Result in the loss of a substantially intact estate that is illustrative of the early development of Miami Beach.
  • Substantially alter the scale of the block, with proposed new construction dwarfing the residence and making it appear out of context despite its primacy in time and place. (Currently, two thirds of the site is on the scale of the residence; the proposed new construction will reverse that ratio.) 
  • Conflict with the Interior Secretary’s standard that “requires minimal change to the building and its site and environment.” In this application, the proposed demolition will also adversely affect the residence and the city block.

Should the garage building be retained and rehabilitated, it will serve as an example of adaptive use of historic structures and help visitors (especially hotel guests) understand the architectural evolution of Miami Beach. 

The importance of the buildings located at 3127 Indian Creek Drive to both the architectural development and history of Miami Beach was established by the City Planning Department in the Collins Waterfront Designation Report (August 2000).

  • Architectural Significance: “Built in 1926 and designed by Robertson and Patterson, this residence (3127 Indian Creek Drive) is an excellent example of the Mediterranean Revival style of architecture with a Moorish influence.”
  • Historical Significance:  “Here returning combat veterans would spend two to three weeks of “R&R” while their pay was calculated, records processed, and they were either discharged or reassigned. Many of the returnees had been missing in action or prisoners of war.” (It is very possible that its use as a soldier’s temporary quarters led to the next chapter of the structure when Mrs. Augusta Schott rented rooms in the residence in post World War II Miami Beach.)

In 2016 (file #7602), the City’s historic preservation staff found that the garage was “substantially intact.” The staff analysis also established the garage’s integral relationship to the residence and called for its restoration. HPB then agreed to alterations to the garage as part of repair of the building. 

These alterations are among those cited by the present applicant as reasons for its demolition. MDPL maintains that these alterations may be reversed without compromising the integrity of the structure.


6. HPB19-0341, 1751, 1757 & 1775 Collins Avenue (Raleigh Master Plan)

Advocacy Position 7/10/20 (updated 8/7/20 see underline; Updated 9/4/20 see highlighted)

  • MDPL is appreciative of the applicants time and willingness to listen to our feedback regarding various aspects of the historic restoration of the three existing contributing buildings on the site. This has included several meetings and site visits. We believe this has led to improvements in the proposal such as the retention of lobby floorplates in the Richmond and South Seas, better window mullion designs for the Raleigh which will be more historically compatible, and updated design for the side of the Richmond which is more in keeping with the contributing structure integrity. We thank the applicant and believe the project has improved based on these meetings. In addition the ownership is willing to have a proffer regarding keeping the Raleigh as a hotel and only changing it with approval of the HPB. We strongly encourage this condition to be included in the HPB order to ensure the ongoing status of the Raleigh as a hotel for use and enjoyment of guests (and not conversion to a condominium)
  • Our primary concern for this project remains the restoration of the three original L. Murray Dixon structures. The City should establish a clear timeline for the restoration of the Dixon buildings. The timeline should include specific benchmarks and ensure that the restoration proceeds as sensitively as possible. This will hopefully avoid delays and bring these shining examples of Art Deco back to being an important and vibrant part of the district. This should be in the final order. (8/7/20)
  • We continue to have concerns about the demolition of the 1950s additions behind the Richmond and South Seas and the height of the proposed new tower. The new configuration of the tower proposed by the developer is an improvement over the original plan (ziggurat step-back) (8/7/20)
  • Additional MDPL Position Updated 9-4-20: We respect the concerns that have been expressed about the size of the tower. The new additional setbacks are helpful in achieving compatibility. But concerns remain about the overall size (FAR) of the tower height and mass, the latter of which is made larger by the fact that the existing historic building additions to the South Seas and Richmond are proposed to be demolished and the newly available FAR is being placed in the new tower. The new tower got wider while also being set back, so the overall size is the same. (9-4-20)

7. HPB20-0380, 550 Washington Avenue (Paris Theater)

Advocacy Position 8/10/20

MDPL supports the staff recommendation for this application. MDPL opposes the proposed replacement doors at the Washington Avenue entrance. MDPL recommends doors of clear glass and of a size that maintain the scale of the block. MDPL is concerned about the designation of a VIP entrance at the rear of the structure and strongly recommends that this door be restricted to emergency egress and alarmed.

9. HPB20-0388, 1116 Ocean Drive (Versace Mansion / Casa Casuarina)

Advocacy Committee Position 8/10/20

MDPL opposes the installation, voices concern about the “after the fact” application, and notes that the courtyard was part of the public area.

Advocacy Committee Position updated September 4th 2020

MDPL had previously opposed the installation based on the information provided. In particular, the after the fact certificate of appropriateness is disappointing. Members of our Advocacy Committee visited the site and met with the owners to understand the project. Based on a site visit, we believe that the canopy structure is appropriate because it is meant to be relatively temporary, is not visible from the street in a significant way, and is an improvement over past proposals that were larger and had significant attachments to the historic building which could have affected its integrity. We do suggest that the applicant work with staff on a consistent treatment for the canopy columns and on a way to appropriately cover the electrical wiring that is exposed on some of the columns.


13. HPB20-0421 a.k.a. HPB18-0264, 800 Lincoln Road

MDPL position 9-4-20: We support the staff recommendation

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