Owner plans to demolish part of Freedom Tower for parking
By Suzy Valentine
The Terra Group is not wavering from plans to demolish parts of Miami's Freedom Tower to make way for parking at a flag-shaped development it may name Freedom Square.
Company CEO Pedro Martin said concessions have been made to preserve parts of the rear of the building at 600 Biscayne Blvd. that have not been designated historic. Nevertheless, other sections will be razed.
"Some back parts will be removed to allow access for parking," said Mr. Martin, who this week was to face the City of Miami's Planning Advisory Board.
Plans to add a glass atrium to the 80-year-old Denman Fink construction, which first housed The Miami Daily News and later was used by the federal government to process Cuban exiles, have been scrapped.
"It has now been decided that any addition to the historic building will be constructed of the same materials and will have the same stucco appearance," Mr. Martin said. "We've consulted with a number of historic and planning companies and conducted a lot of homework to reach this point."
The Terra Group, he said, remains in talks with a number of operators for a museum in the tower, though his focus remains on obtaining approval for his condominium project.
Mr. Martin said that he had tentatively named the 62-story, 680-unit Luis Revuelta-designed structure Freedom Square.
The 900,000-square-foot tower is to feature one or two restaurants and an undetermined amount of retail space, with groundbreaking planned in the first half of next year.
The size of the proposed development, said Mr. Martin, is a third of that permitted on the site.
"The lot is zoned Central Business District and as such has a very high density and liberal zoning," he said. "The city wants a lot of development. We're allowed 2,000 units but we're building more than 600."
Nevertheless, he said, he has to build big to justify his investment.
"All property in the Biscayne Boulevard corridor is high-rise," said Mr. Martin. "We need to be competitive to make it economically viable to remodel the historic tower so we can donate it to a nonprofit to operate. We will be spending millions on this and we're not asking for anything in return."
It is intended that the single tower will have a ripple effect evoking a flag in the wind.
"It will be shaped like a flag," said Mr. Martin, "and will have an undulating appearance."
Mr. Martin wouldn't estimate construction costs.
"Given the rising costs of raw materials," he said, "it would be foolish to make a projection at this stage."
At this week's planning meeting, Mr. Martin said he intended to show the city and concerned third parties how compatible new construction could be with old.
"We'll be showing examples from across the world in which additions have worked with existing structures," he said. "There are hundreds of examples where an original structure is not as high as the Freedom Tower but nevertheless additions have been found not to overshadow the original."