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Miami Beach Community Church Controversy: City Approves Plan to Destroy Courtyard, Build Clothing Store

Categories: News

MBCC1_Touzet_Studios.jpg
Touzet Studios
An architectural rendering of the clothing store that will replace the Miami Beach Community Church courtyard
A divided Miami Beach Historical Preservation Board voted this morning to approve a controversial plan to convert a local church courtyard into a glitzy clothing store.

In a 4-3 vote, the board reaffirmed its May 13 decision to allow the Miami Beach Community Church to lease its historic, 94-year-old courtyard on Lincoln Road to a prominent South Beach hotel developer.

The request to reconsider the plan was filed by the Miami Design Preservation League. After this morning's defeat, MDPL said it planned to continue fighting against the decision.

See also: Miami Beach Community Church Controversy: Developer Donated $500,000 Before Key Vote

Led by developer David Edelstein, TriStar Capital plans to turn the churchyard into a sleek glass and steel clothing store (rumored to be either an Abercrombie & Fitch or an Old Navy) much like other recent buildings on Lincoln Road.

Today's decision was greeted with relief from Reverend H.E. Thompson.

"The Miami Beach Community Church is extremely pleased that the Historic Preservation Board has decided to deny the Petition for Rehearing," he said in a press release. "This decision allows us to move forward with a project that has been responsibly designed, strongly supported by our congregation, and unanimously approved by the HPB. Above all, it enables us to preserve our land, restore our historic sanctuary and other campus buildings, and serve and support the community for decades to come."

Thompson and Edelstein have said the new plans will include green space on top of the clothing store to replace the old courtyard.

But critics say it's not the same.

"That's ridiculous," says Neal Deputy, a former MBCC board member who has left the church over the courtyard controversy. "It's not a courtyard anymore. It's a roof. There is a difference.

"You can put a garden on any of those roofs on Lincoln," Deputy says. "Nobody is ever going to see them or experience them. It's preposterous in my opinion. Golly. Give me a break. It's no longer a visible symbol of the community. It's a Gap or an Abercrombie & Fitch or a Williams-Sonoma, whatever it's going to be. It's a throw away idea because it doesn't work.

"To take away that green space is tragedy," he says. "You've turned it into Bal Harbour shops. Congratulations."

MDPL said it planned to keep fighting the developers.

"We are dismayed at the Board's decision," said MDPL's Daniel Ciraldo. "The vote was very closely divided 4-3 against the rehearing. We are now considering our options including an appeal of the decision."

If the Miami Beach special master again approves the project, the dispute would then land in court.

A church spokesman also cleared up confusion about the $500,000 given to the church by TriStar ahead of the vote to approve the deal.

"The [letter of intent calling it a "donation" ] evolved into an actual lease with the church," said Josh Oberhausen of Oberhausen Marketing and Public Relations. "Those resources are a legitimate, non-refundable rental payment, which is a standard real estate practice and which the church paid taxes on."

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68 comments
Ray Grandon
Ray Grandon

Money before god because you beings know there's no god but Earth and your destroying it everyday!!!

joshsc
joshsc

I don't see any of the complainers donating large sums of money to stop this.

swinghigh
swinghigh

David Edelstein, TriStar Capital, will pay the church $2M a year to lease the land. Meanwhile, David Edelstein, TriStar Capital will rent the retail space out at $300 a square foot, that's $9M a year. Sweet deal. 



Floda Ikzcokark
Floda Ikzcokark

Come to UK...You will see church up for sale as well as church converted into a discount store....so what?... And these are 500y old!!,

Mauricio Palacio
Mauricio Palacio

Really? All this society Cares about is money, so sad....

Betty Alvarez
Betty Alvarez

That is not right. Again more wrong decisions.

Anastasia Biltmore
Anastasia Biltmore

Yeah- because that's what we need more of on Lincoln Road. Less history and tranquility and more ridiculous clothing stores flanked by eurotrash cafes with pumping music.

AGFE
AGFE

Funny how people make opinions out of a 3 mouse scroll article.The church needs this project to survive, it's their land and they can do whatever they want with it. It is a private lawn (read as piece of grass, nothing more than that) It is not public,it is not a civic park, or holding the same historic value as the church itself- which is being preserved in this scheme. This gated patch of grass was land they were waiting to develop, It was part of the original architect to complete a phase 2 of this church on that patch, and the opportunity for that to happen is now; those opposing are actually hurting the church. 

If the MDPL gets their way, the church will go bankrupt and ultimately the entire site will become retail, perhaps with a less interesting scheme. 

How hard can this be to understand?

Beach_Resident
Beach_Resident

Nobody goes to Lincoln Road anymore, its too crowded.

Joseph Mazon
Joseph Mazon

Well, Barbara, I have, talk about 'moneylenders " at the temple. I'm quite certain Peter would not approve of the modern ways of 'selling" God. As for Miami, if ever there was a place which has absolutely no respect for history, this town is it. Then again , it was founded in 1896, it is likely America's youngest major city, and while sometimes it does rise to the level of 'magic", nobody can ever make the case that it HAS any significant history to speak of either. It's a city of immigrants from INSIDE and OUTSIDE, and it seldom if ever looks back,

Barbara Guttman
Barbara Guttman

I guess nobody here has ever " seen" all the vendors and trinkets at Vatican City..... as if that particular establishment with its " stolen & found treasures " needs all those kiosks in front of St Peters.

gregory.7222
gregory.7222

Its just a courtyard and most churches should be completely tore down completely. 

Jason Conord
Jason Conord

Wouldn't expect anything less from the land of plastic people... next they will get rid of the beach itself and have a waterfront Walmart

Jaqueline Maciel Leme Rubiño Garcia
Jaqueline Maciel Leme Rubiño Garcia

US... Miami... If it was in Rome or Amsterdam, locals would never let that happen, and those cities and people are awesome! Culture. History... What does American continents know about it?! What a shame!!!!!!

Julie Anne Isaacson
Julie Anne Isaacson

There has GOT to be a more creative way to build revenue for the church without destroying the courtyard with a retail space. Even it were not a landmark building, we do NOT NEED more retail space on Lincoln Rd.!!!!!!!!!!!! I am beside myself with frustration at the HPB decision today.

Stephon Kline
Stephon Kline

It's the courtyard you bunch of dummies didn't even read the article. The church is leasing the court yard on a long(50 or 100 year) lease I think it was. This is just a small part of green in front of the church. Yes it is a shame. It is a shame a community will cry out and whine at a church trying their best to make it in a community that obviously doesn't want them anymore since the attendance has diminished along with donations of support. The same community cries about it when they get a viable alternative for staying afloat. How about just being glad that they could figure out an alternative that brings in more tax dollars and revenue rather than one that could ultimately result in the closure of the church and the sale of the property.

Natalie Reed
Natalie Reed

History is great but I have been to this church in the past. It needed renovation and was pretty empty. Unfortunately, change is difficult but very necessary. It is our job to educate the generations after us as to how all came to be to keep memories alive and show appreciation and respect.

Scott Dell
Scott Dell

Citibank HQ in Manhattan built a 60 story skyscraper around an old church.

Alex Anico
Alex Anico

cause Lincoln Road totally needs ANOTHER clothing store that is gonna close 6 months down the line cause rent is too high.

Rachelle Letaw
Rachelle Letaw

That's the Miami Motto "Out with the old in with the new"

Julio Diaz
Julio Diaz

Let the church go to a smaller one. Then sell tours to see the luxurious inside of it.

César Ortiz
César Ortiz

This is infuriating, this is ridiculous!!! SHAME ON YOU Miami Beach.

Miriam Kaige
Miriam Kaige

My goodness...this is horrible. I wish people would leave something's alone...this is not progress...so sad

Tatiana Loch
Tatiana Loch

The amount of respect people and organizations hold for history in Miami is pretty evident in the way the Miami Circle is honored..as a dog park

John Lermayer
John Lermayer

Seriously , it's time to boycott Lincoln road

Josh InSobe
Josh InSobe

So- do you want the church to stay around? or do you want it to go under? With the clothing store- church stays. Without, church goes (because it can't pay its bills). Simple math. I haven't seen ANYONE willing to donate $30k a month to prevent this, so move along.

Stephon Kline
Stephon Kline

You guys can complain all you want but when it came time to put out instead of speaking up nobody would donate enough to keep the church maintained and funded. This developer provided a viable source of income so why wouldn't they jump on it. That is the problem with Miami now a days, a whole lot of big talkers that when it comes time to put forth money or action they fall short by doing nothing of either.

Hippodrome
Hippodrome

Have you seen their finances? Last I heard they had $3m in the bank...

gumbolimbo
gumbolimbo

you are the one that didn't read. the church made representations about its finances being in a dire condition, although they had no evidence to prove this. the hpb made a decision which did not uphold the historic preservation criteria. several board members stated that their reasons for voting were due to the financial issues that the church represented. the day before yesterday, the church finally admitted that the developer gave a 'donation' of $500k the day before the vote of the church. this donation was not disclosed and could render the whole decision null and void. thank god for the community activists who are working to make sure that this incredible piece of miami history is not violated by an abercrombie and fitch. 

gumbolimbo
gumbolimbo

they spent $1.5M on renovations over the past 15 years. the church has several million in endowment that they could use towards the renovation. there are better alternatives than just giving up and selling out to a developer.

gumbolimbo
gumbolimbo

apparently the catholic church offered to buy the site and they said 'no'.. go figure...

gumbolimbo
gumbolimbo

it's not a binary decision 'yes or no'... the church membership were misled by the new church leadership as well as a slick developer. the church never provided any proof of their claims that they were losing $30k/month. their annual operating budget is around $400k and they have several million in the bank

gumbolimbo
gumbolimbo

people gave their wills and legacies to this church on the promise that the site would be preserved. the church constitution stipulates that if the church has financial troubles and can no longer operate, then all the money from the endowment will be used to maintain the historic site. selling to a developer as a 'viable income source' flies in the face of their own constitution. carl fisher must be rolling in his grave

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