The panic alarm had sounded. It was time to save the Fillmore Miami Beach.
"In case you haven't heard, here's the situation," Sweat Records' Lauren "Lolo" Reskin warned local music fans in a call to action earlier this month. "Two companies have proposals on the table to completely renovate the Miami Beach Convention Center site.
"South Beach ACE wants to preserve the Fillmore Miami Beach and make it better," she wrote. "Portman-CMC wants to bulldoze the Fillmore and build a new, smaller venue that primarily houses a Cirque du Soleil show."
But now even Portman-CMC is backing off its intention to destroy the legendary Jackie Gleason Theater.
Petitions were signed. Miami Beach commission meetings were mobbed. And Save the Fillmore activists were outraged that the city seem to consider the seven-decade-old music venue so expendable.
"The very fact that the City of Miami Beach," the group lamented via Facebook, "did not make mandatory that the Fillmore Jackie Gleason Theater would remain in place under any circumstance -- like they mandated with the Holocaust Memorial or the Botanical Garden... is both curious and shameful. That building has stood sentry on that corner for 63 years, singularly representing live music, performance, live theater and special events."
Finally, though, the public outcry convinced Portman-CMC to change its plans.
"As a result of ongoing interaction and dialogue with residents and stakeholders of the Miami Beach community," the developer states, "Portman-CMC's evolving master plan design for the Miami Beach Convention Center District will preserve the Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater."
Of course, as Lolo pointed out in her breakdown of the options, the other company that's tabled a proposal -- South Beach ACE -- never intended to destroy the landmark in the first place.
In the revamped Portman-CMC plan, the Fillmore won't be bulldozed. But while the developer now intends to "preserve the existing structure," the theater would still become the home for a Cirque du Soleil... customized experience" in addition to Live Nation concerts and shows. It would also undergo extensive "technical upgrades and renovations," including:
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-A Jukari facility, providing residents and visitors with a unique fitness-focused opportunity to learn gymnastic skills and train with Cirque du Soleil professionals;
-Improvements to activate the new west façade, facing the square, with a new educational center for the performing arts--a training ground for music, dance, theater, and sports. In addition to keeping the existing concert programming, this element will honor Jackie Gleason by furthering the art of performance; and
-Improvements to the ground floor, on all four sides, to expand the building's current accessibility, which is currently only on Washington Avenue, to interface with Soundscape Park, the convention center, and the new town square.
Oh, and let's not forget a statue "to honor the memory and legacy of Jackie Gleason."