The temple on the river is gone. The Mahi Shrine Auditorium, for decades the boxy, Miami River-adjacent home of the Mahi Shriners fraternity, was demolished Tuesday to make way for a new $200 million mixed-use commercial project on the site.
The new megasite is slated to include 444 residential units in two 12-story towers and more than a dozen commercial tenants, including Publix, LA Fitness, and Old Navy, exMiami reports.
"We believe this project will be a great catalyst for redevelopment in the area," Francisco J. Garcia, director of Miami's Planning Department, said after the city approved the project last year.
In addition to serving as the home of the Mahi Shriners, the building, with its characteristic statute of a fez-hatted fraternity member, was host to scores of events over the years, including the Miami Gun and Knife Show and the Mahi Shrine Circus.
By Tuesday afternoon only a small slab of concrete remained upright at the local chapter's former riverfront home, and two cranes pushed around the construction site's massive rock piles. At the edge of the eight-acre site an elderly man sat under a blue canopy and watched, his face covered in dirt.
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When approached by Riptide the startled spectator said his name was Guillermo Aguilera and that he was formerly active with the Shriners. When asked what he thought of the destruction Aguilera shrugged, then offered a bewildered smile and pointed out that the site was sold for $30 million. Asked if the organization had plans for relocation, he shrugged again: "We don't know," he said in Spanish, smiling again.
The Mahi Shriners did not return a request for comment left by Riptide.