Thirty years after South Beach was awarded Historic District status, two North Beach districts have also received the national recognition.
The Normandy Isles Historic District, which principally encompasses the multi-family homes and commercial district east of Rue Notre Dame on the southern half of Normandy Isle, was created in November 2008. The North Shore district, which runs roughly from 73rd Street to 87th Street between the ocean and Crespi Boulevard, followed in November 2009.
The historic designations of the two North Beach districts are based on the concentrations of a post-war style of building known as Miami Modernism, or MiMo, that was developed by architects living and working in South Florida, including Morris Lapidus and Norman Giller. In their book “MiMo: Miami Modern Revealed,” authors Eric Nash and Randall Robinson, Jr., cite the Deco Palm Apartments on Rue Versailles, designed by Gilbert Fein in 1958, and the former Union Planters Bank (now Regions ) at 1133 Normandy Drive, designed by Francis Hoffman, also in 1958, as prime examples of MiMo style.
The North Beach districts are also home to such styles as Mediterranean Revival, Art Deco, and Moderne.
Miami Beach city officials hope the designation will spur the renovation and restoration of buildings in the districts, since certain properties may be eligible for incentives to do so. They also hope that it will foster appreciation of the unique character of North Beach.
“We hope that MiMo will be to North Beach as Art Deco was to South Beach,” Miami Beach Mayor Matti Herrera Bower said in a statement.
The 1979 designation of South Beach lay the groundwork for the transformation of a moribund area into an internationally recognized destination of which the renovated pastel-hued hotels and residential buildings are an integral part of the appeal.
However, unlike South Beach, the North Beach districts have not been according historic status by the city proper, meaning that the buildings are not legally protected against demolition, the Miami Herald reported (click here to read the article). A number of MiMo structures were torn down over the last decade to make way for new construction in North Beach.
Only one other MiMo district exists in the country: in the city of Miami, along Biscayne Boulevard (click here for more on that nearby district).