The home of the Miami Film Festival in Little Havana where Miami Dade College also operates South Florida’s highest-grossing art house cinema could be turned over to the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association by a Miami City Commission vote today (9/22).
Another vote would turn over to the association in a second lease the adjacent theater parking, where the association plans affordable housing and a museum. The association’s current museum and library is several blocks away.
Both measures sponsored by Commissioner Joe Carollo require four-fifths votes because the city would be waiving competitive bids, saying they would not be “practical or advantageous to the city.”
The film festival’s base, the Tower Theater at 1508 SW Eighth St., was built in 1926 as the “first state-of-the art theater in the South.” The college has operated the city-owned theater’s 250- and 104-seat auditoriums under a management agreement for two decades.
The theater has been restored several times starting in 1931, most recently after Commissioner Frank Carollo, Joe Carollo’s brother, won funding for repairs there and at adjacent Domino Park in 2014. The building’s namesake 40-foot-tall steel tower is an area landmark.
Under the legislation, the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association, 2506 Brigade Inc., would run the building “with the terms and conditions [to be] set forth in the agreement.” The legislation does not state that how the structure would be used or that it must show films.
The affordable housing to rise on the parking lot could be for ownership or lease, the city resolution says. It would be occupied by “eligible low to moderate income persons.” Brigade 2506 or a subsidiary owned at least 51% by the brigade would develop the housing and the museum.
Mortgages that the developer obtained would be subject to approval by the director of the city Department of Real Estate and Asset Management.