Who needs the Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater?
Definitely not the Miami Beach Planning Board, a seven-member group that's recommended city commissioners consider demolishing Miami's best midsized live music venue to clear space for the new convention center. Oh, and more condos.
After all, "the Jackie Gleason Theater," board Chairman Charles Urstadt says, "is a structure that has been altered over the years in such a way that any historic structure or historic value that was there does not exist."
Currently, there are two companies -- South Beach ACE and Portman CMC -- bidding for the billion-dollar contract to develop the Miami Beach Convention Center site.
And originally, as Sweat Records owner and community activist Lolo Reskin so succintly broke down the options: "South Beach ACE want[ed] to preserve the Fillmore Miami Beach and make it better" while "Portman CMC want[ed] to bulldoze the Fillmore and build a new, smaller venue that primarily houses a Cirque du Soleil show."
In late April, though, preservationists finally prevailed upon Portman CMC to abandon its plan to raze the legendary Jackie Gleason Theater. So it's unlikely the Miami Beach Planning Board's new recommendation to demolish the Fillmore will actually endanger the 70-year-old landmark.
Still, in the run-up to the city's July 17 vote on the convention center proposals, five of the board's seven members (chairman Urstadt as well as Jack Johnson, Robert Wolfarth, Henry Stolar, and Jean-Francois Lejeune) have sent letters to Miami Beach commissioners, as reported by the Miami Herald, stating their preferences for the development.
And the board's three main recommendations: (1) Award the contract to South Beach ACE, say Urstadt, Johnson, and Lejeune; (2) maximize the number of condos; and (3) get rid of the Fillmore.
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