2021 Miami Beach Referendum 1: Allow Holocaust Memorial to Expand?

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

2021 Miami Beach Referendum 1: Allow Holocaust Memorial to Expand?:

Lease amendment would provide ability to construct new learning center

On the November 2 ballot, this question which relates to expansion of the Holocaust Memorial at Dade Boulevard and Meridian Avenue. The memorial is on City-owned land leased to the Greater Miami Jewish Federation until 2099. The Federation operates and maintains the property as part of the lease agreement. This ballot question asks if the City should extend the lease for 21 years and expand it to include an adjacent surface parking lot for construction of a small learning center.

Referendum 1: Amending Lease of City Property: Holocaust Memorial Site

Here’s how the question will read on the ballot: Shall City, at no cost to City, extend this lease for 21 additional years and expand the leased premises to include adjacent 12,000 square foot City parking lot, per Resolution 2021-31809, with Federation at its sole expense constructing, operating and maintaining a 7,000 square foot Learning Center promoting tolerance and human rights?

According to the City Voter’s Guide: “Although the visitor experience to the Holocaust Memorial is impactful, the Holocaust Memorial lacks facilities that would permit the presentation of changing exhibits, lectures, and other programming. As a result, many visitors rarely visit the Holocaust Memorial more than once.”

If approved, the lease amendment would add the adjacent 12,000 sq. ft. City-owned parking lot at 775 19th Street to the lease “for the sole purpose of allowing the Federation to construct and operate a new learning center,” according to the Voter’s Guide. The learning center itself would be approximately 7,000 sq. ft. of space “for educational and cultural exhibits, programming, and events, as well as for ancillary uses, limited to a gift pavilion for the sale of commemorative pictures and similar personal items, and a café serving light fare, not to exceed 1,000 square feet. The Lease Amendment also includes a use restriction, to ensure that the Additional Premises is used solely for the operation of a Learning Center as outlined above, and for no other purposes.”

RE:MiamiBeach first wrote about the proposed project in March. The focus of the educational center will be tolerance and human rights. Among the interactive programming the Federation hopes to bring to the site is the Dimensions in Testimony project created by the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation. The project, featured on 60 Minutes, utilizes advanced technology to enable visitors to ask questions and get real-time responses from pre-recorded video interviews with Holocaust survivors.

The conceptual design (rendering above) is by Arquitectonica. Final approval would need to come from the Miami Beach Design Review Board, but the conceptual plan as presented to Commissioners is “intended to not compete with the memorial itself,” architect Ray Fort said. “The proposed building includes a series of circular forms in keeping with the circular area around the approximately 51-ft tall hand sculpture. It would be a single-story structure with a reception area, two exhibition spaces, and a flex classroom which may open up to the outdoors.”

“[T]he Federation would be solely responsible for developing, designing, constructing, operating, and maintaining the Learning Center, at the Federation’s sole cost and expense, with no City funding whatsoever," the City's Voter's Guide states.

Milestones in the lease amendment include obtaining Design Review Board approval within two years of the effective date of the amendment and completing the project within three years thereafter. Until construction begins, the surface parking lot will remain open to the public.

The referendum requires approval by 60% of the voters.

Supporters (Yes on the question) as of October 12 include:
Miami Beach United (MBU)