Byron Carlyle Theater's Horror Show

North Shore

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Byron Carlyle Theater's Horror Show:

Building condition deteriorating, could impact o cinema

A new assessment of the conditions of the Byron Carlyle Theater on 71st Street probably could not have come at a worse time for O Cinema. A week after it was announced their Wynwood location would have to close next year when the site they have occupied for 8 years is being sold for development, the City of Miami Beach released a Letter to Commission (LTC) detailing the severity of the building’s deficiencies.
 
In the letter, City Manager Jimmy Morales wrote, the western portion of the building is currently uninhabited “due to its poor condition. Damage from flooding, deferred interior maintenance, poor air circulation, mold, and a series of electrical deficiencies, have made this portion of the theater unsuitable for use.”
 
While a recent inspection report mostly exposes the decayed state of the western portion of the building that is closed to the public, the condition of the overall site may impact O Cinema's operation which occupies approximately 10,647 sq ft of the eastern portion of the City-owned building.
 
The report which detailed current conditions and the 50-year certification requirements noted a flooded electrical room; corroded, outdated and obsolete electrical equipment; and “emergency lighting fixtures not working as intended,” among other issues.
 
“Several sections of the roof need to be replaced as they are beyond repair,” Morales wrote. “There have been reports of multiple leaks throughout the facility, severe water ponding, and lack of over flow drains.”
 
Structural engineers Douglas Wood and Associates wrote “…the below-grade areas of the building (restrooms, electrical room and adjacent rooms at the east end of the building and the low points of the west end of the cinema) regularly flood round high tides and the cycle of king tides. Over time, this saline water intrusion can potentially accelerate deterioration of the concrete structure in these areas (i.e. spalling an [sic] construction of reinforcement). While this condition does not present an immediate significant structural safety issue, this condition does present safety issues and potential health issues.”
 
Morales wrote, “An environmental consulting firm has been retained to perform indoor air quality testing in all of the areas of the Theater.”
 
“The estimated financial impact for the necessary structural repairs in order to be compliant with current code and the 50 year Certification is yet to be determined,” he said.
 
Initial estimates include approximately $150,000 for relocating the electrical room to the building’s second floor and just to bring the electrical up to the level for the 50-year recertification would be $562,000. TBD: structural repairs to meet 50-year recertification requirements, HVAC repairs and new units to be installed, roof repairs and replacement, and flood proofing.
 
“The Property Management Department met with the Building Department, which determined that, work on these deficiencies must begin right away in order to maintain compliance if the building is to remain occupied,” Morales wrote. “Unfortunately, the variables still pending to be determined could significantly impact the scope of work. Unforeseen expenses may increase the project cost drastically, as well as jeopardize the feasibility to maintain the Byron Carlyle operational. The possibility of mold and mildew exposure due to the water infiltration from the condition of the roofs, and lack of proper cooling and dehumidification, may be the catalyst that vacates the entire facility until it can be properly remediated.”

Kareem Tabsch, Co-director and Co-founder of O Cinema said the LTC “mostly underscored what has been always been clear to everyone—the western portion of the building (the part O Cinema does NOT inhabit) is not in good shape. That's why it has been closed since 2002 and is completely closed off from the rest of the building. There are some issues that need remedying in the eastern portion of the building but they seem addressable in a way that can continue to keep O Cinema in operation until the time comes that physical work on the development plan for the site commences.”

“Our goal is to serve the community who has been loud and clear that they'd like to see O Cinema in North Beach well into the future,” he wrote in an email. “Our hope is that we can work with the city leadership and staff to develop a plan that would allow for just that. While being a part of the future iteration of the Byron-Carlyle would be great, we more importantly want to remain part of the fabric and cultural life of North Beach.”

[A full interview with Tabsch is here in which he discusses what the Wynwood closing means for O Cinema North Beach and what’s next.]
 
Meanwhile, the City is expected to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for redevelopment of the building in the coming months.
 
The LTC with all the gory details and photos can be found here.

 
 
 

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