http://www.miaminewtimes.com/arts/little-havanas-manuel-artime-theater-in-national-trusts-vote-your-main-street-campaign-9769720​


Manuel Artime Theater Is Competing for Funding With Historic Sites Across the Country


Maria de Los Angeles | October 23, 2017 | 9:44am


In January, the National Trust for Historic Preservation designated Little Havana as a National Treasure, just two years after it listed the neighborhood as one of 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in the U.S. The Trust, along with Partners in Preservation and Main Street America, implemented a “Vote Your Main Street” campaign that lets the public decide which historic sites in 25 cities should receive part of $2 million in preservation funding from sponsor American Express.

The Manuel Artime Theater, the campaign's only historic site in Florida, is in the running for votes to refurbish its exterior. The project will cost $150,000, according to Theater Manager Yunior Santana.


​The yellow building on First Street and Ninth Avenue sits over the foundation of the Riverside Baptist Church, a place of worship and community gathering for many white Americans in what was once a segregated neighborhood. Built in 1921, the modest structure expanded with a new facade boasting a modified Georgian style and a towering steeple in 1955.

The church and other ancillary buildings went up for sale in 1970 after the congregation moved to Kendall during Miami-Dade’s suburban expansion boom. By then, the neighborhood’s character had shifted dramatically, with the arrival of exiles from the 1959 Cuban revolution giving birth to Little Havana.


The City of Miami brought the 2.34 acre site in 1975 and renamed it in 1982 in recognition of Manuel Artime Buesa, the anti-revolutionary hero of Cuban Brigade 2506 who led the Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961.

​Since its conversion from church to 900-seat performance venue and community center, the Manuel Artime Theater’s affordability and size has hosted many locally popular Latin artists and helped many nonprofits, schools and grassroots organizations stage events.

A '90s program book ad for the theater boasts "our 60' x 30' stage, the longest one in Dade County, for a theater our size," which afforded ample room for symphonic, opera and ballet presentations. The theater, it says, also accommodated chamber recitals and a variety of its neighbors' needs — from civic meetings to weddings — and even Gloria Estefan and The Miami Sound Machine, who filmed a Pepsi commercial to the tune of single “Seal Your Fate” there in 1991.


​In 2003, the theater opened its doors to the big screen. Farrelly Brothers' comedy Stuck On You starring Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear built a film set on its stage. More recently, in June of this year, President Donald Trump announced his policy to crack down on travel and trade with Cuba at the theater, where hundreds of protesters and supporters clashed on the streets surrounding the building.

Although the theater is off the beaten path of Little Havana’s famous Calle Ocho, its preservation fits with the Trust’s mission to help Little Havana maintain its National Treasure status. Arguably, all of Little Havana — from Shenandoah to the south and Riverside to the north — captures the spirit of a history worth preserving as gentrification encroaches on the community from new development along the eastern corridor.

The Trust's website explains why Little Havana is endangered: “Despite Little Havana’s significant place in our national story, the neighborhood currently faces a range of threats, including development pressure, demolition of historic buildings, displacement of existing residents, and zoning changes that could impact its affordability, cultural richness, and character."

The Trust aims to prevent Little Havana’s unique character from being wiped out as the neighborhood evolves in the 21st century, and is working with the City of Miami, Dade Heritage Trust, PlusUrbia Design and the Live Healthy Little Havana Initiative to accomplish that goal.


​Santana says the theater continues to serve the community’s cultural and social needs, and even rents office space to nonprofits in its adjacent building. He has additional plans for honoring the building’s history within the context of Little Havana that go beyond the scope of capital improvements to the building's exterior, which include restoring its original 1950s grey color and a new marquee.

“I’m also talking to survivors of the Cuban Brigade to create lobby exhibits,” he says. “I’d love to make it a place where visitors can come and see all the history.”

The “Vote Your Main Street” campaign is hosted by National Geographic and runs through October 31. You can help by voting up to five times daily at Vote Your Main Street.


Residents of Little Havana regularly attend fitness classes at the City of Miami's Little Havana NET Office.  It's always a fun time engaging residents to be more physically active!


Forever Young Zumba

Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:00am -11:45am

Little Havana NET

1300 SW 12th Avenue

Miami, FL 33129

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  • 12:36

IN THE NEWS

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LIVE HEALTHY IN LITTLE HAVANA
Live Healthy Little Havana

All residents of Little Havana live healthy lives and maintain a community culture of health and wellbeing.

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article129026874.html

A plan to save Little Havana from big development?

By Andres Viglucci and David Smiley - aviglucci@miamiherald.com

 
The National Trust for Historic Preservation will sponsor a major plan to help guide the preservation and revitalization of Little Havana, the storied neighborhood where activists have been battling to stave off large-scale development from adjacent Brickell.

The Trust’s announcement, scheduled for Friday morning, will come a day after the city of Miami officially scrapped a controversial two-year-old proposal that would have upzoned much of East Little Havana with the aim of encouraging redevelopment. Preservationists and activists complained the upzoning would have led to displacement of the neighborhood’s working-class residents and the destruction of an architecturally valuable collection of early 20th century homes and commercial buildings.

Instead, Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado and his administration have pledged to work with the Trust, the nation’s leading preservation group, and its local planning consultants to devise a new zoning and revitalization plan that protects the scale, culture and texture of Little Havana, the historic heart of the city’s Cuban exile community.

At the same time, the study will also develop strategies to encourage new, appropriately scaled residential and commercial development that both enhances and fits in with the neighborhood, Trust and city officials said. The Trust recommendations would inform a city plan that could be enacted as a new special zoning district for the neighborhood.

“Preservation doesn’t necessarily mean we put everything in a freezer and preserve it for all time,” said Juan Mullerat, principal at Miami firm PlusUrbia, the Trust’s zoning and planning consultant, adding that the goal is “to propose new legislation that will guide the future development in a contextual manner.”

Regalado said he appreciates the national focus and resources the Trust will bring to Little Havana, the neighborhood where he spent part of his youth after arriving in Miami from Cuba as a refugee. The Trust on Friday will name Little Havana to its list of National Treasures, a campaign to save about 75 buildings, neighborhoods and natural landscapes across the country that the organization considers to be threatened by development or neglect.

The Trust named Little Havana to its list of 11 most endangered historic sites in the country two years ago. The historic Miami Marine Stadium, the restoration of which Regalado has made a priority, is also on the National Treasures list.

“For the national trust to get involved in Little Havana, that should be an honor for the city of Miami and for Little Havana,” Regalado said in an interview. “It brings a lot of hopes and a lot of attention, national attention.”

The study covers virtually all of what’s considered to be Little Havana, an area spanning from Northwest 27th to the Miami River and Interstate 95 on the east, and from State Road 836 and the river on the north to Southwest Ninth and Southwest 11th Streets.

Developers have been pushing into the neighborhood, attracted by relatively low land prices, hundreds of vacant lots and proximity to booming Brickell. But high minimum parking requirements, small lot sizes and current zoning restrictions have discouraged redevelopment, something the withdrawn upzoning plan sought to address by increasing allowable heights and densities. Activists argued, though, that it would have wiped out much of the neighborhood’s historic fabric and its residents.

Instead, city planners have said, they will look to increase density by allowing more units per acre while backing down on height increases to encourage compatible, small-lot infill development. A booklet produced by the Trust suggests Little Havana already demonstrates it can comfortably accommodate significant numbers of people in “human-scaled buildings.”

The document says some blocks in Little Havana have the same population density as Brickell, and the densest blocks have two-and-a-half times the average density of San Francisco.

“Everybody’s on board with this,” said Frank Schnidman, a recently retired urban planning professor at Florida Atlantic University who has coordinated a series of extensively researched student projects on the neighborhood. “What you will see come out of it is a community consensus on preserving Little Havana. You are going to witness a unique thing for Miami.”

A third participant in the Trust study, which will also cover neighborhood health concerns, will be Live Healthy Little Havana, an initiative of the city and the Health Foundation of South Florida. Trust officials said Dade Heritage Trust, Miami-Dade’s main preservation group, and other preservationists will also be closely consulted, as will Little Havana residents, and business and property owners.

The Trust has been quietly meeting with those stakeholders for months to develop the outlines of its study, said Rob Nieweg, senior field director for the Trust. The organization expects to deliver a report in seven months, after what Nieweg said will be an intensive analysis and planning process that will include extensive public participation, starting with a March 11 workshop.

The public report will detail existing conditions in the neighborhood, including surveys of its infrastructure and building stock, and include zoning analysis, among other elements, then set out recommendations for preservation and revitalization strategies, Nieweg said.

The Trust chose Little Havana both because of its varied stock of architecturally distinctive buildings and its quintessential role as Miami’s entry and launching point for immigrants, starting with Cuban exiles in the early 1960s and now consisting mainly of Central Americans and other more recent arrivals.

“Little Havana matters, not just to this city, but to the United States,” Nieweg said.


http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article129026874.html


 

WWFE La Poderosa 670 AM Radio Interview with the Lillian Blondet, City of Miami Director of Grants Administration.  She discusses Live Healthy Little Havana and the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge

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