Monday, October 02, 2006

From Broadway To Biscayne, It's Going To Take A Whole Lot of Vision-- And Tax Breaks, Too!


Now that the nearly half billion dollar Carnival Center for the Performing Arts has opened in downtown Miami, people are talking about what kind of effect the dancing hippo will have on the surrounding community. Since construction began, property values have doubled and taxes tripled which makes us wonder who will be able to set up shop there-- and make a profit?

MVB has been advocating for years that county and city officials be proactive in creating a theater district similar to Broadway but with emphasis on bringing outlying local, smaller professional theatrical troupes "home to Biscayne". To do that, there must be some sort of economic incentive such as rent or tax breaks or both so that theatrical companies can pay salaries and buy advertising to build an audience and flourish. Perhaps developers might be required to allocate a certain amount of groundfloor space for live theater within the "theater district" if they want to build there. A percentage of taxes might be waived based on a sliding scale determined by the amount of groundfloor space a developer gives to satisfy the live theater zoning requirement.

We believe that theaters, large and small, will attract the restaurants, bars and nightclubs that will more than make up for the lost rent and tax revenue. And, let's not forget-- for all those who drive cars, they will have to park somewhere and that means the city will still be making money-- probably a lot more than what it would have done without a "theater district."

But where are those visionaries? I don't think we'll find any developers volunteering. For something like this to happen, it will have to come from our elected officials. So far none of them can be called "visionary" so we shouldn't expect much from them. Perhaps one of those currently running for office will make it part of his or her campaign. We can only hope.

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