Miami-Dade County

St. Jude seeks mediation with City of Miami after historic designation

St. Jude Melkite Catholic Church at 1501 Brickell Avenue
St. Jude Melkite Catholic Church at 1501 Brickell Avenue

An attorney for St. Jude Melkite Catholic Church notified the city of Miami Thursday that the institution will seek to mediate a dispute over whether the its Brickell sanctuary should be protected as a historic landmark.

The church, which was designated historic a second time last month by Miami commissioners, argues that the architectural restrictions that come with the designation limit the institution’s religious freedoms. Church leaders successfully appealed a historic designation vote by the Miami City Commission in 2013, but the city voted again last month to protect the sanctuary at 1501 Brickell Ave. despite renewed protests from church leaders.

Another legal challenge was expected. But instead of filing a lawsuit, the church is first petitioning the city under Florida’s Land Use and Environmental Dispute Resolution Act, which allows for mediation under the guidance of a special magistrate. Mayor Tomás Regalado received a hand-delivered letter Thursday explaining the church’s decision, which doesn’t rule out litigation in the future.

“St. Jude is disappointed that the City designated the church a historic site over its objection, but it is willing to engage in the FLUEDRA mediation process before returning to court,” said church attorney Amy Boulris.

The city is currently mediating with the developer of the Miami Innovation Tower under the same state law.