A Fond Farewell: Buildings Demolished in 2015

It’s out with the old and in with the new. As 2016 kicks off, a multitude of new real estate mega projects are already poised to further change Miami’s skyline. As the city grows, developers continue to tear down some of Miami’s older buildings to make way for new ones. Learning From Miami remembers some of the city’s most iconic buildings demolished in 2015.

American Savings on Lincoln Road

South Beach has a reputation as one of the few strongholds in Miami-Dade County that takes historic preservation seriously. But sometimes notable buildings do get bulldozed, like the 1940s Wells Fargo Bank building, formerly known as American Savings Bank, on the southwest corner of Alton and Lincoln Roads. The building, with its exterior façade beautifully ornamented with murals by acclaimed Miami sculptor Enzo Gallo, could not be saved. Although some of the structures located on the west side of Alton Road date back to the 1920s and 1930s, they aren’t part of a historic district and can be demolished without any review. A new retail complex is currently being built where the old bank once stood.

Church By The Sea

The Church by the Sea was built in 1947 and designed by Miami architect Russell Pancoast. In 1957 real estate developer Stanley Whitman purchased 16 acres adjacent to the the church. Whitman had a vision to create an elegant and upscale new high-fashion center located in Bal Harbour. Bal Harbour Shops opened in 1965 and is still owned by the Whitman family, making it one of the few remaining family-owned malls in the U.S.

The congregational church recently made an agreement to sell its property to Bal Harbour Shops. The agreement gives Bal Harbour Shops the right to acquire the land at 501 96th street where the church stood for nearly 70 years. In exchange, Bal Harbour Shops will build a 50,000-square-foot, environmentally friendly church on land that it owns at the intersection of Bal Bay Drive and Park Drive.

 One Herald Plaza

In 1963, 1 Herald Plaza became headquarters for the largest newspaper in South Florida. For 60 years, the Miami Herald building was the site of the media conglomerate’s base and where the periodical won 19 of its 20 Pulitzer Prizes. The decline of the newspaper business and downsizing of staff led to the decision to sell the building and relocate the newspaper to a smaller facility in Doral, Florida in 2013.

The property was purchased in 2011 by Malaysian developer, The Genting Group. Plans for the site include an upscale hotel and several hundred luxury condos bordered by the new pedestrian walkway “Bay Walk.” Genting also wants to build a casino on the property. Ironically, the Herald’s editorials were firmly opposed casino gambling.


The Biltmore Terrace Hotel

Built in 1951, North Beach’s Biltmore Terrace Hotel was designed by renowned MiMo architects Albert Anis, Melvin Grossman and Morris Lapidus. This former Miami Modern inn operated for over 60 years and remained a popular family friendly resort for many years. In December of 2013, the MiMo hotel was purchased by the Terra Group, a Pembroke Pines developer. Contractors had originally intended to restore the building and add a condo tower to the property. Terra Group presented its designs at various community gatherings, earning praise from the Design Review Board and members of the community. A year later, Terra Group applied for a demolition permit and demolished the hotel in 2015. The Biltmore Terrace was not subject to review because the building was never given historic designation. The Terra Group is now building a new luxury tower on the property.

-Ursa Gil

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