Lincoln Theatre, South Miami Beach, Fla.

South Beach's new 35,000-sq.-ft. mixed-use building used to be a historic movie theater and symphony hall.

Miami Beach, Fla.-based Savitar Realty Advisors has nearly completed its transformation of the legendary Lincoln Theatre in the heart of South Beach from a historic movie theater and symphony hall into a 35,000-sq.-ft. mixed-use building located on the pedestrian promenade known as the Lincoln Road Mall.

The modern retail establishment scheduled to open in November will house H&M’s 30,000-sq.-ft. flagship store as well as a number of other smaller tenants including Swatch, Sabon, 4D Gelato and 100 Montaditos, a Spanish tapas and sandwich style restaurant.

Savitar assembled a group of investors and purchased the building for $21.5 million in February 2010. The restoration and redevelopment of the historic location had to meet rigorous requirements of the Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board and the center’s retail tenants.

Designed in 1935 by cinema architect Thomas Lamb in the classic Art Deco style that defines South Beach, the Lincoln Theatre building originally housed the movie theater, as well as medical offices and a pharmacy. It closed in the early 1980s and then was purchased in 1988 by the New World Symphony to serve as a performance hall, music academy and administrative office. Last year the symphony opened its new South Beach campus designed by Frank Gehry.

Even after eliminating the slab between the second and third floors in the original office building to better suit a modern retail environment, its theatrical and art deco heritage is revealed and apparent.

The protected features of the property include its signature façade on Lincoln Road, the original theater lobby and various elements uncovered during the construction process, including original water fountains, a mirror, coral rock wall tiles and a decorative lobby ceiling. The auditorium’s overlapping clamshell ceiling is being resurrected to replicate the original ceiling design of the movie theater.

A blank concrete wall in the rear of the building along Lincoln Lane is being replaced with glass, to provide a public view of the interior, which has been designed to maintain the look and feel of a two-story movie theater. From the side, the end of the space re-creates the look of a proscenium. A LED mesh wall, extending from the auditorium ceiling to the ground floor below, conceals what was once the stage and will serve as a multi-media screen for H&M, reminiscent of the movie theater screen that once hung in that space.

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