South Florida has serious neighborhood loyalties. The loyalty extends to iconic buildings, like The Fillmore, a huge South Beach theater. Possibly facing demolition, the building -- formally called The Jackie Gleason Theater -- has abundant fans. They’ve set up a Save The Fillmore website. They’re selling Save The Fillmore t-shirts. They’re signing petitions against demolition.
Plans are under discussion to renovate the aging Miami Beach Convention Center, located just one block north of The Fillmore. Few argue that the convention center needs a makeover. But a corollary goal, to reshape the broader neighborhood, is attracting controversy.
Some planners would tear down The Fillmore to make way for a new hotel, as part of a revitalized commercial district. Worried Fillmore fans turned out for a recent community meeting to discuss various renovation plans. At the January 2013 meeting, community leaders heard many pleas for preservation and arguments against being too quick to tear down buildings.
Certainly, the 60-year-old building is one of the premiere entertainment venues in Miami. It can seat more than 2,700 people. It generates about $1 million in profits for the city every year.
The Fillmore has attracted icons of pop culture and classical artists alike. It has often been the venue for touring Broadway shows.
Fortunately when it comes to event space Miami has multiple alternatives. The city has several big box theaters, in addition to numerous small clubs. There are also ample venues for the archetypal Miami trade show. Now a staple of South Florida’s economy, regular trade shows include the Miami International Boat Show, the Miami International Wine Fair and Art Basel Wynwood.
Whatever happens to The Fillmore, Soho Studios -- just 5 miles inland -- isn't going anywhere. Its substantial square footage can accommodate all sorts of events, from film shoots and trade shows to weddings and concerts.