Selling off Miami Beach

Alley by alley, street by street, parking lot by parking lot, the city commission is giving away Miami Beach’s municipal treasures.

Dear Miami Beach Resident,

This past Wednesday I was driving along and decided to tune in to the Miami Beach Commission meeting.Thank goodness I did, because what I heard shocked me.

The commission was discussing an open bid on the Byron Carlyle theater. For those of you unfamiliar with it, the Byron Carlyle is a city-owned theater on 71st Street, currently housing the O Cinema. The theater is built at a low elevation, has flooded in the past, and few would argue that its current state is its “highest and best use”.

It is prime real estate located in the new “Town Center” dense area, and worth around $10-12 million.

No one questions the fact that the Byron Carlyle facility is in bad shape and falling apart. What is questionable however, is this new bid by city officials. When the Byron Carlyle was initially put out to bid, it was meant for a public institution. Miami Beach wanted to attract an educational institution like FIU or Miami Dade College, or maybe a culinary outpost of Johnson & Wales— something that would benefit everyone, attract good jobs, and included in it would be a theater.

This latest bid however, has the city giving away this valuable asset, and the only requirement is an unspecified “cultural component” with a 10k square foot minimum. As if this weren’t enough, one commissioner was pushing to redo the bid and throw in an extra city parking lot on the adjacent street. Heck, once the commission gives away the theater and the parking lot, why not give away the street between them? After all, it’s only a street, they will say.

This deal stinks. The city is going to give away millions of dollars in assets with no money up front, and the result will likely be another hotel or building full of micro-units (yes, we are beginning to change zoning and build tons of these across the city) that will offer no real public benefit apart from the O Cinema.

If the Byron Carlyle is developed, it should be something that benefits the public, way beyond one small cultural component. The Byron Carlyle is in the north end, but don’t think this doesn’t set a dangerous precedent for government -owned properties in the mid and south end too.

I assure you that as your commissioner, I will fight for positive developments that benefit everyone, not just a select few. I want to keep our city properties for you, the residents of Miami Beach.

Your Friend,

Kristen

P.S. Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful, self-sacrificing women who work so hard. I appreciate you!

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