Consider it a coup de grâce. After suffering through 15 hours of Marc Sarnoff yesterday, members of St. Jude Melkite Church were finally put out of their misery at 3 o'clock this morning when city commissioners voted 4-0 to designate the small Brickell chapel as historic.
The vast majority of parishioners -- including the church leadership -- were actually against the designation, because they believe it will raise costs and violates the separation of church and state. But by 2:30 a.m., even they were happy to end the "absurd" marathon meeting.
"The guillotine came down 4-0 in favor of preservation," St. Jude board member Suzanne Stonbely says. "We were thrilled with this loss. Now we are free to appeal in a court of law that has rules of evidence and won't profile our architectural expert as he is not a local."
Stonbely and other churchgoers believe the effort to declare St. Jude's a historic building is more about developers getting access to its air rights than a legitimate attempt to save it.
She believes those behind the push for preservation -- including the powerful Shomar brothers, Wasim and Shadi -- have exaggerated the church's role in Pedro Pan to garner sympathy from Miami's Cuban community.
Wasim Shomar, however, says he has no personal interest in the air rights -- potentially worth millions of dollars -- but wants to preserve a building that means much to him and his family.
In the end, commissioners sided with Shomar, a former president of Miami Dade College and CEO of large investment fund the Lynx Companies.
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But the battle is far from over. St. Jude's pastor, Rev. Damon Geiger, said as much before the meeting.
"If it goes against us, I imagine the next step would be to go to the courts," he said. "And we're prepared to go all the way to the Supreme Court if need be."