Jackie Gleason Theater an irreplaceable jewel

 

It’s inevitable that things change. Progress is always the name of the game, from technology to medicine to city planning.

Our cities’ skylines have changed dramatically in the past decade and will continue to do so as we inch toward the next decade. Color me nostalgic, but the Jackie Gleason Theater is one of the landmarks of Miami Beach and should be allowed to stand for decades to come.

Like the Fontainebleau or the Eden Roc hotels, this theater is part of Miami Beach’s heritage. Renovations are acceptable, demolition is not. The theater has brought in talent for decades, and I hope to continue to attend shows there for decades more.

Since I moved here in 2002, I’ve attended more than 40 shows at this beautiful establishment and look forward to when my children are old enough to attend with me. This venue is one of a kind. There are few enticing mid-level venues in South Florida. Without it, many would often skip South Florida. This void couldn’t be filled easily.

Financially this doesn’t make sense. Each year this facility brings in 40 to 50 world-renowned performers, bringing audiences of up to 3,000 people each.

These crowds, who usually won’t be on South Beach at night mid-week, come early and often stay late, spending money at restaurants and clubs after a performance.

The Jackie Gleason Theater has little competition most nights, which makes the idea of a hotel on the property attached to a new convention center befuddling. Yes, there might be an influx of hotel guests during convention center events, but even if a quality hotel is brought in, it will be directly competing with the lavish hotels on Collins Avenue.

No matter what the future holds, we must preserve our culture and history as we progress. The skyline will continually change; hotels, restaurants and clubs will burst on the scene, then fade with little notice five years later. But a theater that has helped set the pop-culture trend for a half-century can’t easily be replaced. The Jackie Gleason Theater is a, invaluable jewel.

Drew Gerlach, Coral Springs

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