Miami Beach’s Historic Preservation Board has approved a controversial plan to build a 2-story retail building next to the Miami Beach Community Church on Lincoln Road, according to Touzet Studio.
The historic 1920 church designed by Walter De Garmo (along with a 1949 addition by Russel Pancoast) will be preserved, but a small raised terrace and site wall in front will be demolished. A ‘green roof’ atop the new structure will replace existing open lawn area.
Update: A letter from the Miami Design Preservation League in opposition:
Dear Historic Preservation Board Members,
On behalf of the Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL), I am writing to oppose the proposal to build a new retail building in what is now the side courtyard of the Miami Beach Community Church. This is perhaps the most important compound in Miami Beach – designed by Walter DeGarmo and built by Carl Fisher for his wife Jane. One can easily imagine Carl and Jane walking to the church from their home on Lincoln Road and the Ocean. The Church has served the community for decades and is the final resting place for some long-time residents.
Carl Fisher donated the land on which the Church was built. This donation came with a host of restrictions, the most relevant of which are outlined below (full deed attached here). In summary, there were restrictions on commercial buildings on the lot, subdivisions of the lot, and it was the intent not to build around the Church so as to leave a clear view to the Atlantic Ocean. In 1951, Fisher’s restrictions were overturned by a court – this was before the days of historic preservation laws – but even so, nearly 100 years after the Church was built, much of Fisher’s original intent remains, including the open space to the east of the Church.
The proposed new development is not in keeping with this intent. The most significant issues from a preservation perspective are that the majestic view to the east side of the Church will be forever blocked from Lincoln Road and Drexel Avenue, and that the open greenspace – the last on Lincoln Road – will be lost forever.
We respectfully ask the Board to uphold the historic preservation criteria to protect the sitelines to the Church, and to keep the courtyard as open greenspace. The Board may want to consider other alternatives to develop on the site, perhaps to the south of the Church, if it does not interfere with neighboring residents. However, the current application as-is should not be approved.