Best Renovation (2006)

Colony Theater

For a town that prides itself on its architecture, Miami Beach often seems to have lost its way in historic preservation. Demolition-by-neglect appears to be a favorite tactic of property owners, so when the City of Miami Beach promised to renovate the Colony Theater, interested residents and artists emitted a collective sigh of relief. The small 1934 Art Deco structure is demure by Beach standards. It was built for the Paramount chain at the quiet end of Lincoln Road, which probably saved it from the wrecking ball. After renovations in the Seventies, the 465-seat theater became a focal point for performing arts groups as well as films. But it fell into disrepair again until a new fixup was approved in 2002. Unfortunately, as often happens with government contracts, the renovation went way over budget and schedule. Instead of $1.5 million and one year, the project stumbled over obstacles that set the final price tag around $6.5 million and pushed back the opening date three years. The renovations were extensive: The floor was restored and a new three-story wing was added to the backstage area. In order to highlight the exquisite façade, the entrance was shifted to face Lincoln Road, and the lobby was redone, including restoration of murals. The place reopened this past February. Despite the troubles and costs, residents and art lovers are happy to have it back. It's way better than another cookie-cutter condo.


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