By Hannah Sampson
A pair of historic, glittering buildings sat empty beside a busy Miami thoroughfare. An arts foundation with a nomadic background was looking for a place to plant permanent roots and expand.
That is how the National YoungArts Foundation, founded 31 years ago by Ted and Lin Arison, came to find its new home: the iconic Bacardi Tower and Museum complex along Biscayne Boulevard. The campus will get a Frank Gehry-designed master plan and year-round programming to link downtown’s burgeoning arts scene with the hip Wynwood and Design District neighborhoods.
Officials with the organization and company will announce the news Wednesday.
“This was really, I believe, a match made in heaven,” said Paul T. Lehr, executive director of YoungArts. “There was no better place for us to go and there was no better purchaser for this campus than us and what we were going to do.”
Lehr said Bacardi U.S.A. sold the 3.3-acre site at 2100 Biscayne Blvd. to the foundation for $10 million, though the market value was over $20 million. The blue and white tiled tower, by architect Enrique Gutiérrez, was completed in 1963. The mosaic square known as the “jewel box,” designed by Ignacio Carrera-Justiz, was added in 1975.
They were designated as historic in 2009 by Miami’s historic preservation board.
Facundo L. Bacardi, chairman of the board of spirits producer Bacardi Limited, said the sale wasn’t about making money. The privately held company moved its Americas headquarters to Coral Gables in 2009 and has maintained the Biscayne Boulevard site but used it only rarely.
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