Byron Carlyle Theater: What’s Next?

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Byron Carlyle Theater: What’s Next?:

Back to square one after rejection of redevelopment proposal

Miami Beach Commissioners are back to square one on what to do with the city-owned Byron Carlyle Theater after rejecting a redevelopment proposal last month. On Wednesday, they will discuss what’s next for the property which has been closed since October 2019 after being deemed unsafe due to electrical and structural issues.

After a long, tortuous process to get proposals for redeveloping the site with a required cultural space for the City, only two bidders emerged – Pacific Star Capital and a joint effort between Menin Hospitality and KGTC. When Pacific Star pulled its hotel proposal, the City negotiated with developers Jared Galbut (Menin) and Matis Cohen (KGTC) for development of workforce housing. The final proposal presented last month included a sale of the property and the potential for the housing to be market rate, though City staff said they doubted that was the most financially attractive option for the developers. Due to concerns over the changes since the original Request for Proposals which did not include a sale of the property and community opposition, Commissioners decided to pull the plug.

Four separate items have been placed on the Commission agenda for discussion and Committee referrals.

Commissioner Michael Góngora wants the item to go to the Commission’s Neighborhoods and Quality of Life Committee with the Administration presenting an itemized breakdown of repairs needed to reopen the theater; a “comprehensive plan” for what the theater could become including potential programming, potential partnership opportunities with local universities for a business incubator and educational programming; and potential funding sources. Another of his ideas, exploring the “possibility of establishing a Latin Music Hall of Fame at the Bryon Carlyle Theatre similar to what was done in Cleveland, Ohio" with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Mayor Dan Gelber is recommending the City Administration first “perform a facility assessment” of the structure and determine the costs “to bring it up to code and make it habitable.” Once completed, he wants the Commission’s Finance and Economic Resilience Committee to review it.

Commissioner Mark Samuelian also wants the discussion to go to the Neighborhoods Committee. Similarly, he’s asking the City Administration “to present short-term and long-term alternatives and recommendations for the Byron Carlyle. This item asks that the committee also consider community input and provide a recommendation on the best path forward.”

Determining what the community wants is on Commissioner David Richardson’s agenda. Richardson is asking Commissioners to direct the Administration to engage a market research firm to conduct a professional survey of City residents and City businesses to understand the “community’s desires and expectations for the future of the Byron Carlyle site.” Richardson wants to survey potential uses including cultural, retail, or other uses “and options for the restoration of the existing building or development of a new facility on the property.” His item indicates he is looking for “statistically valid survey results” and for the Commission and Mayor to have final say over the questions prior to final issuance of the survey. Richardson was the lone “yes” vote to approve the development agreement with further negotiation in February. Commissioner Ricky Arriola, another “yes” vote, left the meeting in frustration prior to the vote on the resolution which failed 5-1.


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