The Miami Herald building, a major eyesore, brutalist wall of a building, blocking all bay views from the Arsht Performing Arts Center and from Biscayne Boulevard, should not be designated a Historic Structure by the City of Miami.
The Knight Brothers purchased the almost defunct Miami Herald from the Henry Flagler interests in 1937, but did not move to the new Miami Herald industrial box building on Biscayne Bay until 1963. The new Herald building was further expanded with a wider sixth floor in 1984. I remember, as mayor of Miami, then asking our great community leader and Knight-Ridder Newspaper Chairman, Alvah Chapman, how he could be opposed to the previous burming of the New World Park (now Museum Park) because of the obstruction of a view from Biscayne Boulevard and yet, a few years later, add another obstruction to a view corridor to Biscayne Bay, the Herald Buildings expansion.
Alvah’s answer was correct: Knight-Ridder was adding many jobs and economic development to Miami. Miami needed job growth.
Now the Genting Malaysia conglomerate has purchased The Miami Herald Building and land for $236 million, from the McClatchy Corp, plus over $200 million of adjacent buildings and land. Genting wants to build a multibillion dollar tourist destination development with or without a destination casino. The Miami Herald management and parent company, McClatchy, knew at the sale that Genting would demolish The Herald Building and redevelop the property.
Casino gambling is of course the subtext of this flight. Genting is not now proposing any casino. With close to $500 million invested so far, Genting now proposes a luxury, destination tourist development, residential, hotel and commercial urban project. Naturally, if mega casinos are approved in the future, I assume Genting will be ready to compete, as will Sands, Ceasars and Trump.
Casinos are already in Florida in large scale and growing. The probabilities are that South Florida will have one or two mega casinos in the next decade. I have been a supporter of luxury casinos (vs slot machine casinos) for many years. I am not, nor have I ever been an employee or a beneficiary from any gambling interests, directly or indirectly. I have never met any of the principals or the decision makers of Genting.
I am also a great advocate for strict regulations and significant taxes for casinos. I favor view corridors and a public bay walk on the proposed Genting Miami Project that ties to Bayside and The Arsht Center. A well designed, balanced destination development would be good for Miami Dade’s economy, government coffers and the development of a global city in Miami.
The issue before the Miami City Preservation Board is the Dade Heritage’s proposal to keep this socially, architectural bully of a building, as a neighbor to the arts community, art, science museums and the Arsht Center or to instead have a balanced urban design that would have view corridors to the bay and the long dreamed of Bay Walk. Is the Herald building really what Miami wants to be remembered for?
Besides having no architectural grace, The Miami Herald building does not meet the criteria to be designated a Historical Building because:
• It is not 50 years old, as required in the City of Miami ordinance.
• It does not “protect and enhance the city’s attraction — and thereby serve as a support and stimulus to the economy.”