Related withdraws proposal to restore, redevelop Olympia Theater property

The affordable housing arm of Miami developer Related Group has withdrawn its pitch to restore the historic Olympia Theater downtown and redevelop dozens of apartment units located on the site.

Albert Milo, a principal of Related Urban Development Group, wrote a letter to Miami’s head of real estate this week informing the city that the developer has pulled back its unsolicited proposal for the property. Milo, whose letter was read into the record during a City Commission meeting Thursday, said he wanted to allow for more time for dialogue with downtown residents, preservationists and theater enthusiasts who have reacted icily to the proposal.

Milo attributes at least some of that friction to what he says were inaccurate blog reports that Related Urban intended to tear down the theater and build a replica. His May 9 letter to the city discussed plans to “demolish and replicate the existing building,” but also discussed a desire to “renovate the theater,” which he says has always been viewed as a restoration effort.

Still, while the theater is in need of millions in improvements by the city’s estimates, Robert Geitner, executive director of the theater, has made clear that Related’s proposal is not acceptable. He said Thursday that whatever happens to the theater should be driven by the community, not a developer.

Geitner said the commission should “look for a process that’s vision-driven and community-based that allows us to discuss what we want for the Olympia Theater.”

Miami commissioners are still expected to discuss the plan Thursday afternoon, despite the withdrawal. Under city law, unsolicited proposals have to be embraced by city commissioners and made available to competing offers in order to be given final approval.