Miami’s historic preservation board made a tough call this week in deciding that The Miami Herald building does not merit designation as a historic landmark. It was the right call.
This much should be clear and unequivocal: The Miami Herald does not have a dog in this fight. Or, as they say in Spanish, we don’t have a candle to hold at this wake. The building has been sold to the Malaysian resort and casino company Genting, which will take control in May after this newspaper and media company moves to new quarters in Doral. That’s final.
The Herald will continue to monitor and have a say in the debate over whether all-out gambling belongs in downtown Miami, or, for that matter, anywhere else in Florida outside of Native American reservations. But insofar as the sale of the building — that’s a done deal. The movers have been called, our new digs are being readied, we look forward to the next phase in the history of this institution. The decision over what happens to the building after The Herald moves on does not affect the newspaper one way or the other.
The many thousands of employees who have worked here over half a century have an emotional attachment to the building. It evokes natural feelings of sentiment and nostalgia. This has been our home away from home, a great location endowed with magnificent waterside views near the heart of the Magic City.
But a newspaper is more than bricks, mortar and marble. The tradition of hard-hitting journalism that has earned The Herald 21 Pulitzer Prizes and countless more awards over the years will continue, as will the dedication of the men and women who work here. The newspaper’s identification with and commitment to the wellbeing and progress of Greater Miami won’t change.
As for the merits of preservation, suffice it to say that the experts themselves were divided. If the building can’t fairly be described as an “eyesore,” as some detractors have claimed, it certainly does not inspire universal feelings of architectural admiration like, say, The Freedom Tower, or, in Coral Gables, The Biltmore, to cite two genuine landmarks that evoke the beauty and history of this community.
Not every building has a right to claim historic preservation and sometimes the old should make way for the new. Miami’s downtown scene, from Brickell to Wynwood and beyond, is undergoing a remarkable and encouraging renewal. The new building by the bay will doubtless contribute to the improvement.