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North Beach MiMo Districts Politicked to Almost Oblivion

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The City of Miami Beach's two newest historic districts, the Normandy Isles Historic District and the North Shore Historic District, which are both known for their high concentrations of MiMo architecture, could both be whittled away to oblivion before either of them becomes law. The City Historic Preservation Board originally unanimously voted to initiate the process to locally designate the two districts, which are already on the National Register of Historic Places, but lack the strong protections of local designation.

The two districts, which the National Register created in 2008 and 2009, were both developed in the postwar period, and are densely packed with cute MiMo garden apartments and commercial buildings. Between the two are around 800 buildings total, reflecting the construction frenzy that Miami saw during those midcentury boom years. The Miami Design Preservation League's Daniel Ciraldo rattles off the many notably postwar Miamian architectural devices seen within the district: "There are a plethora of garden apartments featuring typical Post-War Modern catwalks, metal beanpoles, integrated planters, Roman brick and pipe railing balconies, and exterior stairways.

Despite the plethora of obviously existing historic buildings, the fact that they've already been mapped, databased, vetted, fact-checkedetc. on the National Register Report, and despite the fact that the National Register Designation Report already basically spells outs what should and shouldn't be preserved within the districts and is so authoritative they could theoretically photocopy and turn in as the local designation report, somehow the local districts have seen a whopper of a downsizing: from more than 800 to now 285 buildings. Where did those 600-some buildings go? One word: politics. The vote starts the process of zoning in progress, meaning new additions and demolition requests will go through the HPB, which gives them the power to say no to demolition if a building is worthy of historic designation, that is if the districts survive at all. As this is written, City Commissioners are discussion a proposal put forward by one of their own to just do away with the local districts entirely. Hey, what's another 285 buildings, right?