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Mar 04, 2014
Battle to Save Miami Beach Historic Homes is NOT Over

On February 12, the Miami Beach City Commission voted to approve a new ordinance that was originally intended to preserve historic homes in the city. Last minute changes to the ordinance stripped from the law the original protections for pre-1942 homes

The result will be an acceleration of the widespread destruction of architecturally significant homes in the city.

The new ordinance eliminates a sliding scale for lot coverage in favor of an across-the-board 30% lot coverage for all residential properties without public review. This change will encourage more demolition by giving owners of homes built before 1942 greater incentive to demolish their houses because of the increase in allowable building.

Sadly, this new ordinance will set back historic preservation in Miami Beach by decades. The loss of the cultural and historic heritage of the city will be incalculable.

“The Mayor and Commission have enacted a new ordinance that turns its back on the city’s history and cultural heritage and embraces the concerns of developers and property owners who are simply interested in making a profit,” said Charles Urstadt, chair of MDPL. “Future generations will be unable to understand or appreciate Miami Beach’s wonderful history with the loss of so many important homes. This is not the way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Miami Beach.”

Despite this serious set back, MDPL will press on in its efforts to help preserve the architectural heritage of Miami Beach’s fine homes.

The Miami Herald featured this on-going effort in a May 3rd article titled “Battle To Save Miami Beach’s Old Homes May Not Be Over.”

In the article, MDPL Public Policy Committee chair Daniel Ciraldo summed up the stakes:

“We’re a small town and we have our symbols. And when certain symbols are lost, it kind of gets a community together and makes us think, ‘What can we do to make sure this doesn’t happen again?’ ” Ciraldo said. “Somebody’s got to do it. It’s important to the city.”

Aug 13, 2013
Historic Homes and Out-of-Scale Construction

The month of July was a turbulent one for Miami Beach historic preservation.

While the wide spread destruction of historic homes continues unabated through out the city, MDPL’s continued efforts to keep a bright light on this issue has helped create some positive results.

The City Commission responded to the urgency of the problem at its July meeting and voted to move forward with an ordinance that will temporarily halt the issuance of demolition permits for pre-1942 architecturally significant homes. This was an important step and will give everyone concerned a chance to consider fair options to maintain the character of our residential neighborhoods and respect the rights of homeowners and their neighbors.

We applaud the ordinance’s sponsor Mayor Matti Bower and the commissioners who supported the measure.

At the same meeting, the City Commission also recognized the importance of offering incentives to homeowners to help them should they decide to preserve their houses. A new ordinance, written and supported by the city administration, contains creative ideas that will further the preservation of historic homes.

 Combating the demolition of historic homes and the spread of McMansions destroying the character of the city is a difficult and complicated undertaking. MDPL is currently studying what has been done successfully in other parts of the country. These solutions will be part of the discussion that the Planning Board and City Commission will be consider in the months to come.


May 13, 2013
Dade Heritage Trust Recognizes Jeff Donnelly

Dade Heritage Trust honored Jeff Donnelly for Outstanding Contributions to Miami’s Historic and Architectural Heritage.
Jeff has served Miami Design Preservation League in many roles including his role as Public Historian, member of the Public Policy Committee and running the highly-regarded Tour School.

Thank you Jeff for everything you do for MDPL and the community. We are so glad that Dade Heritage Trust recognized your service as an individual.