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Fighting Over Preservation

Posted: Jan. 28th, 2013  |  By Michael Pearse

Although brewing on and off for years, the campaign by preservationists to better protect these Miami Beach homes was set in motion last month by the planned demolition of one Miamiís last neo-Classical homes. Preservationists said that the recent increase in the number of demolition applications for important pre-World War II homes has underscored the need to change the law. So fight to keep the old or fight to build the new?

MIAMI BEACH - When South Beach was little more than a forlorn chunk of beachfront property, preservationists clung to the idea that the faded, often derelict pastel buildings lining the streets were too precious to knock down.

Their campaign to preserve the area's fanciful Art Deco buildings ushered in one of the country's most successful urban revivals. Years later, South Beach is still a juggernaut.

Preservationists are now pushing hard to bolster historic preservation laws, a move that has ruffled wealthy property owners (and potential buyers) and stepped up pressure on local commissioners who are reluctant to wade into the politically precarious battle.

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