Fabiola Santiago

Fabiola Santiago: We’re erasing our beloved Miami

A rendering of the Latin American Art Museum Gary Nader. Nader wants to build, along with luxury condo and hotel towers, on a parking lot owned by Miami Dade College.
A rendering of the Latin American Art Museum Gary Nader. Nader wants to build, along with luxury condo and hotel towers, on a parking lot owned by Miami Dade College. Courtesy

Once again, the Miami skyline is poised to change dramatically.

If all transpires as the powers-that-be desire, the city’s iconic landmark — the graceful Freedom Tower, an ode to origins — will be overshadowed by some of the tallest skyscrapers we’ve yet to see.

A proposal to build two 50-story luxury condo towers and a six-story complex that would house a museum, theater and conference center on public land next to the Freedom Tower is under consideration. Down the street, where the 10-story Holiday Inn used to be, a 77-story mixed-use skyscraper has been approved by the city’s Urban Design Review Board. And across Biscayne Boulevard will rise a steel-cold, 100-story tall hairpin dubbed SkyRise Miami. With no history or heritage but foreign investor interests as its soul, SkyRise purports to become the city’s new iconic symbol.

By the time the tower opens in 2018, the luster of “our Ellis Island” will have been smothered by avarice, consumerism and the vision to pave over and build even on bay waters.

In major leaps, and with no end in sight, we’re erasing our beloved Miami in the name of progress and prestige.

It’s no longer enough to raise 45-story towers that feel like they’re swaying in the wind (and are). Developers now demand higher altitudes to give millionaires a splendid view — and multimillion-dollar tax breaks and public land to subsidize projects in which Miamians can’t afford to live.

Another slate of high-rises means the gradual smothering of our essence — open views of sea and sun — and thousands more cars on the streets.

This is what happens when not even a tiny hurricane like Wilma has swung by in 10 years to wreak major damage.

This is what happens when the success of international enterprises like Art Basel Miami Beach turn into a nightmare in disguise.

The world allegedly wants to own a condo in Miami with a striking view, and our overstock is not good enough. Miamians have to live with the stress, enduring panic attacks on roadways that look like parking lots, not only in rush hour, but throughout the day. The goal is for all of Miami to become like the aptly nicknamed intersection of Brickell Avenue and Biscayne Boulevard: “The Bermuda Triangle of Traffic.”

There’s no pausing to reflect on growth and its effects, and not one spot of grace is respected.

The new threat to sanity comes in an unsolicited proposal by art dealer Gary Nader to build 500 luxury condos, 144 condo-hotel units and a museum to showcase his private collection on land owned by Miami Dade College. In return, Nader would add a theater, a museum, and a performing arts and conference center that the college would use to host events like film screenings and presidential debates.

The fact that there are public and private museums and a state-of-the-art performance center blocks away seems to be no deterrent. And again, the developer is counting on public dollars — a property-tax break worth $140 million — to carry out the plan.

This makes no sense.

But instead of rejecting the proposal, the college has opened a competitive process so that other developers also have the opportunity to submit competing bids.

“I can build anywhere else and I can keep my donation,” Nader threatened in an interview with The Herald.

Please do.

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