Many preservationists have waited years for what happened on Wednesday night at Miami Beach City Hall.
The commission unanimously approved the creation of two new local historic districts that provide demolition protection for more than 200 architecturally significant buildings in North Beach — a designation that activists have been wanting for years.
“I know a lot of people thought this would never happen,” said Daniel Ciraldo, executive director of the Miami Design Preservation League, as he profusely thanked the commission for the vote.
The vote was marked by smiles, laughs and commendations for the city’s planning department, which cataloged and researched each building in the districts. Deborah Tackett, the city’s chief of historic preservation, oversaw an effort to create a comprehensive report detailing the history of North Beach’s development and the architects who designed the buildings. The neighborhood features a rich stock of postwar architecture that is known as the “Miami Modern” or “MiMo” style, as well as examples of late-era Art Deco buildings.
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Thomas Mooney, the city’s planning director, noted that more buildings along the Tatum Waterway are on their way to being designated. Two rows of waterfront properties are currently protected by a demolition moratorium while city planners study the buildings.
The districts approved Wednesday have a total of 313 buildings, and 271 of them are considered architecturally significant enough to contribute to the character of the neighborhood.
The vote designated the most buildings at one time since 1990.
The local districts include Harding Avenue from 73rd up to the northern border of the city at 87th Street, a section from Harding to Dickens Avenue between 73rd and 75th streets, and buildings on Bay Drive, Marseilles Drive and South Shore Drive on the eastern edge of Normandy Isle. This area covers a portion of the U.S. National Register District of Historic Places, a federal designation that does not provide any local protections.
Wednesday’s vote for local designation protects the facades of these unique buildings from the wrecking ball.
“I think only good things are going to come from this,” Ciraldo said.
In the same way the preservation of Art Deco buildings in South Beach has provided a colorful backdrop for the area’s renaissance during the past few decades, commissioners hope keeping the look, scale and character of these historic neighborhoods intact will contribute to the revitalization of North Beach.