Letters to the Editor

Historic designation would help developers, not church

On Miami City Commission agenda today

Controversy has swirled around the future of St. Jude Melkite Catholic Church as the city of Miami considers an unwanted, unwelcome and legally questionable historic designation of the church.

The Miami City Commission approved the designation in 2013 against the pleas of the church only to be reversed by the Miami-Dade County Circuit Court and by Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal.

Now the city staff is pressing the designation once again. It would require St. Jude to defend its right to religious freedom without intrusive bureaucratic oversight.

Mayor Tomas Regalado has publicly tried to position this as a fight among church members that needs to be mediated and resolved. The allegation that the Melkite Church intends to sell or demolish the existing sanctuary is a false rumor.

The church shouldn’t be burdened with a designation that would put the future of the structure in the hands of bureaucrats, nor try to force us into signing a restrictive covenant under threat of historic designation.

The city staff contends the architecture of the church is now its primary significance, but this is unsupported. It claims St. Jude is the only Romanesque church in Miami. Wrong. St. Jude is a modern interpretation that blends elements of Romanesque design with Gothic architecture.

A historic designation might function as a height restriction that could potentially prevent the church from ever modernizing its campus. This would greatly benefit adjacent development, if their bay views are forever secured by a designation we believe has more to do with burdening the Church’s air rights than preserving any history.

We hope the city of Miami Commission does the right thing and declines a historic designation of St. Jude Church. It is unwarranted. And it is wrong.

The Rt. Rev. Damon Geiger, pastor, St. Jude Melkite Church, Miami