Historic Preservation Fund Targets Leave Biltmore Hotel On Short Endw
By Ashley Hopkins
In seven months Miami-Dade may have exhausted its $10 million Historic Preservation Fund — but short the money to fully finance restorations at the Biltmore Hotel and Country Club, the county is looking for other ways to make ends meet.
The Recreation, Culture & Tourism Committee on Nov. 8 approved using $1 million to restore the Military Museum of South Florida, 12450 SW 152nd St.; $2 million to restore the Historic Opa-locka City Hall, 777 Sharazad Blvd. St., and $1.2 million for work at the Biltmore, 1200 Anastasia Ave., expending all available funds.
The Biltmore had asked for $1.5 million but was the last of the projects to put in a request for the preservation slice of the county’s general obligation bond receipts. As a result, the committee is asking the full commission to consider financing the remaining $300,000 through county interest earnings.
"[Opa-locka] is on the agenda first because the request was put in first," said Commissioner Barbara Jordan. "If we’re looking to adjust, then that adjustment needs to be considered based on the timeline."
Commissioner Sally Heyman recommended the amendment to "better facilitate time" and prevent projects from being held up in committee.
"As much as we want to move ahead, I don’t think they’re going to spend the $1.5 million immediately," she said. "This way we ensure they have the $1.2 million going through the pipeline now."
mbThe Citizens’ Advisory Committee, which advises the Recreation, Culture & Tourism Committee on the use of interest earnings to fund projects, would have to hear the request before the item was added to the full commission agenda.
The Military Museum is at the former headquarters of the Richmond Naval Air Base. In the 1960s it was used as the local CIA headquarters, in 1971 it was used by the Army Reserve and in 1982 it was taken over by the Marine Reserve Corps.
Opa-locka City Hall, built in 1926, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. It has been used as a backdrop for a number of movies and commercials.
The Biltmore was built in 1925, modeled after the Giralda tower in Spain. The building was used as an Army hospital during World War II and as a veterans’ hospital after.
"I don’t have to tell you what this hotel means to Miami-Dade County," Commissioner Rebeca Sosa said. "When we talk about landmarks, when we talk about reasons to be proud, when we talk about occasions and moments where this hotel has been showcased nationwide — it’s always the Biltmore Hotel."
Projects that have already received general obligation bonds from the Historic Preservation Fund include $3 million to the Miami Marine Stadium on the Rickenbacker Causeway in Virginia Key, $1 million allotment to the Curtiss Mansion at 500 Deer Run in Miami Springs and $1.8 million allot to the Historic Hampton House, 4200 NW 27th Ave.