I n t e r a m a
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Interama is for the dreamers, the minds fueled by the energy of possibilities and the creative spirits stirred by new directions. Over the course of thirty years, visionaries crafted this grandiose idea shaped by cultural movements and the political environment of their time. They lead the way in the rising trend of the new century, World Fairs and International Expositions, that became a platform for global dialogue, progress, and cooperation. In general, these events are held over a six month period but Interama would be the first of its kind as a permanent symbol and meeting place for peace between the nations.
The story begins in 1919, nine years after the Pan-American Union formed and one year after WWI ended, the mayor of Miami, Everest G. Sewell introduced an idea to build a Pan-American Center in the city known as the 'Gateway of the Americas'. The political climate during this era focused on nurturing relations with Latin America, and Pan-Americanism (a.k.a. Inter-Americanism) encompassed principles for the governments and people to embrace this diplomacy. In America, President Herbert Hoover declared a Pan American Day (April 14, 1930) and President Franklin Roosevelt implemented the Good Neighbor policy (1933). These efforts advocated for unity and a consensus believed that an International Trade Center would compliment the progress.
In 1932, Architect H. Hastings Mundy proposed the Port of Miami as a location for the Pan-American Exposition & International Merchandise Market. Three years later, a team of architects chosen for the project included Phineas E Paist, August Geiger, Richard Kiehnel, Russell T Pancoast, George L. Pfeiffer, Edwin L. Robertson, Robert Law Weed. Then, in 1939 at the end of the Great Depression, a Florida Senator, Claude Pepper, and the Florida Chamber of Commerce passed a proposition for the Pan-American Trade Market as the first permanent exposition to be built in Miami on Causeway Island. During the year, New York City hosted The World Tomorrow Fair, a cornerstone to the development plan for Miami's Exposition. One of the first's focal points to the Florida site included a main building called the 'Pan-American Beacon' or 'The Tower of Eternal Peace' representing hemispheric union.
A year later, 1941, the United States entered WWII and the Pan-American Trade Mart, supported by Florida governor Spessard Holland, was demoted on the priority list. At the end of the war, 1945, Frank F. Stearns and the Miami City planning board picked up the project and set a goal for an opening by 1950. But, in 1948 when R. G. Danner was hired as Miami's City Manager to oversee the development the city ran into an obstacle over ownership rights to the proposed site on Causeway Island. Three decades had passed without this dream coming into fruition, and both the country and the project had overcome significant setbacks. But, instead of dissolving into the cosmos the collaboration reached a turning point.
In 1950, renowned architect Hugh Ferris joined the project proposing a new location, the Graves Tract, just 15 miles from the Port of Miami in the up and coming town of North Miami. The area was part of a paradise, Biscayne Bay's undeveloped marsh land, and was approved as the relocation site. A group of local businessmen interested in reviving the project established a state agency, The American Center Authority, as an organization that would build, operate, and seek out funding for the Inter-American Cultural & Trade Center. In September of 1950, Congress issued a joint resolution calling for federal funding and in 1952 President Harry Truman issued a statement of support for the Center. A consultant company, Ebasco Services was hired and filed a report regarding the financing and construction of the Center. Finally, in 1955 the Inter-American Cultural & Trade Center was officially renamed Interama, inspired by the Futurama ride in the General Motors 'Highways & Horizons' pavilion at New York's 1939 World Fair. The exhibit portrayed the future, in Urban planning and a highway system, and an unprecedented look To New Horizons awaiting America . . .
In 1956, the birth of Interama looked most promising as The American Center Authority was seeking $70,000,000 in funding for the project, but the Reconstruction Finance Corporation under President's Eisenhower's administration denied their request for a $35,000,000 loan. The following year, 1957, Steward & Skinner architectural firm was hired to implement a new design. Then, in 1958 the Cuban Revolution changes the course for diplomatic relations between Cuba and its citizens, and the United States. By 1960, America cut ties with Cuba and President Kennedy launched the Cuban Refugee Program for thousands of citizens fleeing the Castro regime to enter the USA. America entered into another battle, the Vietnam War, and news of Interama was replaced with pressing political matters.
Still, the dream prevailed and the city of North Miami deeded the Graves Tract to The American Center Authority readying the site for construction in 1961. A new architectural team (Robert B. Browne, WIlliam L. Phillips, Sandford Seviel, and Edward Stone) specializing in landscaping was hired implementing a new plan requiring extensive dredging of the area. Interama incorporated a new theme 'Progress with Freedom' in conjunction with President Kennedy's Alliance for Progress with Cuba, and a planned for a University of the America's on the site. However, the relations with Cuba remained strenuous through the USA's attempt to remove Castro from power in the invasion of Bay of Pigs (1961) and the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962). In 1964, the first phase of construction began clearing 680 acres of bay area. By 1965, Freedom Flights began as a program for citizens to leave Cuba and resettle in America. The following year the Cuban Refugee Adjustment Act gave them a path to US citizenship and hundreds of thousands found their new home in Florida.
Interama was discovering new depths to the Pan-American vision in the rise of culture populations but also found new federal funding in the approval for a $22,000,000 Community Facilities Administration (1965). President Johnson signed a bill for a $9,500,000 federal exhibit and Congress authorized the funding leading the President to invite other nations to take part in Interama (1966). In 1967, the Florida governor, Claude R. Kirk hired a new director, Gui Govaert, to oversee the project with proposal to open the site for the Bicentennial Celebration. But, Interama held a much different fate. The City of North Miami bought back 350 of the 1700, and instead of the University of America the Florida International University at Biscayne Bay took its place. By 1975, the federal government withdrew all funding for Bicentennial Programs but in one last attempt to breathe air into this dream 1976 presented Interama's last opening proposal. But, there was no response and no funding. The remaining acres of land was transferred to the Board of Trustees of Internal Improvement Fund.
M u n i s p o r t
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In 1972 North Miami leased 291 acres of 350 to M u n i s p o r t i n c., to build a golf course. But, the developer's operated a toxic landfill from 1974 to 1980. Their dump including twelve 55-gallon drums that leaked a variety of acid-chemicals into the land. Then, in 1981 the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation revoked M u n i s p o r t ' s operating permit leading to M u n i s p o r t 's b a n k r u p t c y. They left behind over $12 million in clean-up costs from 6 million cubic yards of waste devastating acres of this natural land and aquatic life.
1983 - 1999: this land was added to the national priorities list as a Superfund site,
the worst toxic cases requiring emergency clean-up
1992: 30 acres of the 291 Eastern wetlands, Oleta Park, were labeled as the most toxic.
1994: the public health assessment considers the site an indeterminate public health hazard
due to unavailable data to determine what is under the surface.
Through these years the environmental protection agency (EPA) found coliform bacteria in a lake on the development site that was exposed to humans. Chemicals found on this site included ammonia, arsenic, lead, chlorine, chromium,pcb, leachate, landfill gases, bio-hazardous wastes, and contaminated dust.
t h e o a k s I & II @ b i s c a y n e
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s w e r d l o w - b o c a d e v e l o p e r s in 2001 responded to north miami's request for land development and in 2003 signed a 99 years lease agreement for 193 acres (under the corporation reserve partners) for b i s c a y n e l a n d i n g then in 2006 michael s w e r d l o w exits the partnership while in 2007 to 2008 b o c a d e v e l o p e r s continued to build the oaks I & II (under blia developers) but in 2009 went bankrupt
t h e o a k s I & II @ b i s c a y n e were completed in 2008 which included 400+ residences, managed by trg managment company (dba condo lease finder llc) and property management of the related group ny hiring one fifty one at biscayne condominium association inc and the oaks I & II at biscayne landing, in 2009 after boca developers' bankruptcy 373 condos sold in auction with 160 bought by istar residential then in 2013 istar hired devstar to sell the remaining condos, in 2014 the site was re-branded to 151 at biscayne during the sale and closed the leasing office, most of the 160 condos sold to foreign investors (see here)
p r e v i o u s d e v e l o p m e n t p l a n
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o l e t a p a r t n e r s in 2012 with michael swerdlow's return and richard l e f r a k respond to north miami's request for land development and landfill closure cleanup (see costs below) leasing 183.8 acres and purchasing 50.6 acres but in 2015 michael s w e r d l o w was bought out of the partnership
2012: landfill closure costs $35, 014, 787 (see breakdown below)
2013: oleta partners brought 194,000 cubic tons of aluminum filled dirt to the site
b i s c a y n e l a n d i n g first came about in 2002 by swerdlow boca developers (biscayne landing ll and affiliates) and in 2012 owned by oleta partners (swerdlow development company and affiliates), the lease was for 99 years with automatic renewal for 99 years to be decided at year 70, there was a down payment of $17.5 million with payment of $1.5 million paid semi-annually with no lease payments years 3-5 with a 15% rent increase plus $500, 000 in contributions, the plan included 4,000+ residences, hotels, 1 million sq ft in retail, auto dealerships, 10,000 sq. ft community center, and 50 acres of parkland, the estimated time for completion was 15 years with a cost $1 billion with the city's estimated profit at $643 million and $500 million in taxes by 2026 (see more costs & figures below)
c u r r e n t d e v e l o p m e n t p l a n
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l e f r a k & t u r n b e r r y in 2015 the lefrak organization owned by richard lefrak and turnberry associates owned by jeffrey soffer teamed up to complete the biscayne landing project renaming the site to sole mia miami.
presently ammonia pollution causes sewage odor throughout the city of north miami
s o l e m i a m i a m i was rebranded with the new partnership of lefrak + soffer, the plan includes 4,390 residences, 1 million sq ft of commercial space, dining, entertainment, cinema, auto dealerships, grocery, hotel, 37 acres of park space, the estimated time for completion is 20 years with the first residential completion in late 2016 with a total cost of $4 billion (see more costs & figures below)
o l e t a
g r e e n preserved by state and upg organization: the remaining natural land of oleta, the largest piece of undeveloped land left in all of southeast florida
o l e t a, t h e e m e r a l d b e a u t y includes 933 - 1043 total acres of land considered the largest urban park in the florida state park system with the largest concentration of austrailian pine (invasive species), mangroves, a sanctuary to a plethora of surviving species and aquatic life.
o l e t a p a r k m a n g r o v e s
f l o r i d a estimates 23,500 acres of mangroves have been destroyed primarily from development, dredging, and filling it is illegal to trim alter or remove mangroves without a permit (see costs & figures below)
g r e e N i n i t i a t i v e s
n e i g h b o r h o o d
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Urban Paradise Guild (UPG)
adopted many of the Oleta acres
UPG teamed up with DERM to plant 4,500 mangroves
Gary Milano & hundreds of volunteers have restored Oleta
UPG Projects Global Restoration Network
South Florida Restore.
Biscayne Landing qualified for the Green LEED-ND Master pilot program but the plan was not pursued
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Florida International University (FIU)
Alonzo & Tracy Mourning Senior High School
David Lawrence Jr. Elementary School
the schools teamed up with Miami-Dade County's Department of Environmental Resources Management (DERM) to restore the 12 acres of oleta near the school plus 15 acres owned by state - the cost averaged $800,000 and 1,200 mangroves from seedlings grown at the high schools greenhouse.
Find more information here,
FIU Mangrove Restoration here.
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North Miami Lease with Biscayne Landing developers
requires a LEED level certification or equivalent.
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poor oleta awareness began
community gardens : grow your park grant
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FIU professors collaborate Sea Level Rise Project:
Eyes on the Rise App
North Miami partners with Recyclebank
Electronic Waste Recycle Event
w o r l d