The official boost for preservation of the 2,000-year-old village site, regarded as one of the most significant archaeological finds in the country, puts the city and county at odds with the owner of the property,
On Friday, MDM will ask the city historic preservation board to approve its plan to salvage one of the circular arrangements of postholes uncovered at the site -- believed to be the foundation for a large
The plaza would also hold steps and brick veranda footings from industrialist
But preservationists, who have dubbed the site the birthplace of
They say removing the circle and displaying it out of context is inadequate, especially given the most recent discoveries at the site. Those include seven other such circular features, hundreds of additional postholes arranged in linear fashion, thousands of
Archaeologists postulate that the linear elements represent the foundations for boardwalks or walls, and believe the site represents a significant chunk of a rustic village that the Tequestas were previously known to have continuously occupied for more than 2,000 years. The last surviving members of the tribe left for
The preservation officers instead are backing alternate proposals, some developed in cooperation with MDM, that would pull back the development's footprint so that the building either sidesteps or is cantilevered over the archaeological site, which occupies roughly half the two-acre property. That approach, they say, strikes the right balance between the site's importance and the property owner's development rights.
Preservationists have cited numerous cases in
"We recognize it's a difficult position for everyone involved,'' said
The idea of removing just one circle -- conceived of long before the newer circles and linear features were identified in recent months -- is no longer appropriate, she said.
"It's a game changer with what's been found," she said. "You have the evidence of an entire village, not just one feature. It's like Stonehenge. Would you would take one of the monoliths, remove it and say, 'OK, we saved it'?''
What's unclear is precisely what the city preservation board, which has legal authority over archaeological and historic sites, could do about the competing ideas. The only item on its advertised agenda for Friday is whether to approve or reject MDM's plaza plan.
But the board could also ask the city preservation officer,
In a report released this week, preservation officials note that the original development approvals issued to MDM in 2002 included a condition under which the developers agreed that the city board could require preservation of any significant archaeological findings on the site, which is located within a broader area that has long been designated as an archaeological zone.
But MDM officials, who helped develop some redesign scenarios, say all would be too costly or impractical. MDM has received various zoning and development approvals for the MetSquare project, the fourth and final phase of its massive MetMiami development -- but not a building permit.
The report cites MDM as saying that any delays or redesigns would imperil signed agreements with cinema, hotel and restaurant operators and put the viability of the entire project in question.
Another option, the report says, would be to purchase the entire site from MDM. That's the route the state and county took in saving the
The state bought the
"We do not want to see another
The MetSquare site, which unlike the
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