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Thursday January 31, 2008

More on the Lyric Theater in this week’s Sun Post. Including this tidbit: the Miami CRA was going to donate a parcel of land to the Black Archives to complete the Theater’s expansion. The County is blocking the donation by laying claim to the land because of something to do with an adjacent housing development, so, I rest my case.

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Wednesday January 30, 2008

Historic Overtown/Lyric Theatre: new name of the Metrorail station previously know as “Overtown/Arena.” I dig the nod to the Lyric (name-checked by Garrison Keillor when he was in town), but isn’t the “Historic” a little much?

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Thursday June 21, 2007

“[W]hen you came to Miami in 1964, were I-95 and I-395 already built, ripping through Overtown and basically converting it into the slum it is today? Did you drink from the segregated drinking fountains or eat at a segregated lunch counter? Did you see the ID cards blacks needed to come to Miami Beach? Or when the hotels advertised ‘Always A View, Never a Jew’? [. . .] Miami was a divided city long before the Cubans arrived and it will continue to be.” — Alex cuts to the heart of the matter, which almost makes this post (which accuses me of accusing Rick of being a racist — no wait, it really accuses me of accusing Rick of almost being a racist — no, sorry, I think it actually accuses me of thinking that Rick is a racist but not saying it) worth it.

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Monday October 30, 2006

Crosswinds approved

rendering

Here’s an issue that a lot of people are disagreeing about: the Crosswinds development for Overtown was just approved by the Miami City Commission. Since the Herald’s open comments seem to be a thing of the past, it seems worth getting into here.

What we have is a big mixed-use project, mainly residential, now approved to be built in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Hundreds of people showed up to either support or oppose the project. On the pro side, obviously, is the observation that the development would be an economic boost to the neighborhood. Those opposed (who included Arthur Teele) say that the project would hurt the character of the neighborhood, raise property values in the whole neighborhood, and kick-start gentrification.

The question is whether, with the Performing Arts Center, places like Karu & Y (here), and even historical renovations like the Lyric Theater, gentrification isn’t inevitable. Otherwise, it’s worth pointing out that the plan seems to follow Miami 21 principles; the tallest buildings are on the side of the busy boulevard (exact address?), with a height-transition down to the existing houses and apartments.

Of the 1,050 condo units in Crosswinds, 112 will be “heavily subsidized” (up from the 50 the developer was originally offering), and another 210 will be partially subsidized. Hardly makes a dent in the 1,200 new subsidized units the city wants for the neighborhood, and doesn’t really square with the 50/50 market-rate/subsidized ratio that was previously discussed, either. This is peculiar, since by my reading the city gave the developer the land.

Two lawsuits must be resolved before construction can begin, one of which was brought by the Power U Center, the folks who brought the 25-foot inflatable rat to the commission meeting. Should be interesting.

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Wednesday April 19, 2006

Miami Transit and Overtown USA with some first-hand reporting and reflection on the traffic mess created during the recent closure of Biscayne Blvd. Herald on same, with a little more about the crane accident, which left one man dead and another injured (they were father and son, by the way). Update: Steve Klotz with a related traffic situation…

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Friday November 4, 2005

Lyric Theater renovation

The Biscayne Boulevard Times has a great article about the renovation of the Lyric Theater in Overtown.

From the 1930s to the 1960s, N.W. 2nd Avenue from 6th to 10th Street, the main strip of a vibrant and pioneering black community called Colored Town, was better known as “Little Broadway.” (…) Today, all that remains of Little Broadway are miscellaneous press clippings, billboards donated by Clyde Killens (the era’s entertainment king) and the Lyric Theater, which, according to material provided by The Black Archives, has been described as “the most beautiful and costly playhouse owned by Colored people in all the Southland.”

There is something very exiting about this. All the development to the north of downtown is going to spread to Overtown sooner or later. This project is funded by government money, so it’s not necessarily an early sign of the trend, but eventual gentrification is inevitable. The exact nature of that gentrification is still up for grabs, though, and this would be another opportunity for Miami to do something right. This project, by preserving the history of the community, is a step in the right direction.

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