|All photos by Ivanna Vidal|
|Step inside The Bank's vault.|
Few nightclubs can claim to inhabit a building as old as the historic Miami-Dade County Courthouse. But the Meyer-Kiser Building (AKA the Dade Commonwealth Building) has been standing in Downtown Miami since 1925, first as a 17-story structure, later salvaged as a seven-story building when a 1926 hurricane toppled the top ten floors.
For decades, the building served as a bank until urban blight hit the area and it fell into disrepair. According to a 2004 South Florida Business Journal
article, the building "housed the state's first elevator and a 300-plus square foot vault, once regarded as the largest in the state."
Now, though, the Dade Commonwealth Building is home to a new nightclub called The Bank
But usually, that's not enough to save a building in Miami, a city with too little regard for its historic past. Many culturally important structures met their demise during the great building boom at the turn of this century (see the Everglades Hotel
). So it's fitting that the man who saved the Dade Commonwealth Building is a New York City native.
"When I first saw the building it was falling apart," owner Jay Suarez tells us over the phone. "It had rusted rebar coming out of the chest of the eagles. It affected me to see such a beautiful landmark withering away."
Suarez admits the rehabilitation of the building was a labor of love with an estimated $5 million being poured into restoring the structure to its former glory and little income being produced from the tenants that occupy the upstairs offices.
In a way, The Bank was a product of necessity, says Saurez. "No one was renting and I have this building that is beautiful. So one my tenants is [Custom Music Solutions
], a promotional company for nightclubs, and I got together with them. I offered the space and it took us about 14 months to create it."
139 NE 1st St., Miami, FL