In 1925, there was an audacious plan to build a series of nine islands in the shallow waters of Biscayne Bay. The Shoreland Company and officials of the Venetian Island Company wanted the islands, connected with arched bridges, to stretch north from Di Lido Island, in the new Venetian Causeway, all the way to what is now 79th Street. Truth be told, the bay was never that deep, and most of the islands in it—including the Venetian Islands, Star Island and Hibiscus Island—were manmade, built of sand pumped from the bottom and constrained by pilings.


The islands were intended to be 1,000 feet wide, with a 20-foot strip along the east side, facing Miami Beach, for parkland, and a boulevard next to that. In keeping with the Italian theme of the Venetian Islands, roads were assigned names like Via Savoie and Via Cantorini. The first island to be built, just north of Di Lido, was to be called Isola di Lolando. Sales of plots on Di Lolando, which was 4,280 feet long, began in October, 1925 and proceeded slowly. Then came the devastating hurricane of 1926. Seth H. Bramson, the author of Miami Beach, said, “The Shoreland Company filed for bankruptcy in 1927 due to the Great Depression, so the islands never got built.” And then came the Depression.

But the pilings are still there, a roost for pelicans (thus its unofficial name, Pelican Island) and anhingas. The pilings, sitting in shallow water, are also perhaps a haven for manatees.

In 1944, the City of Miami Beach paid $35,000 for the land inside the pilings. In the ’60s and ’70s, schemes were launched to turn Di Lolando into an amusement park. But by that time there was opposition to development in the bay.

We say, why not dream? Assume there are no environmental protection regulations, no manatee breeding grounds or endangered coral or objections from people living on neighboring islands. If you were starting from scratch, with the giant rectangular island already staked out just south of the Julia Tuttle Causeway (and visible in satellite photos), what would you build? A 50-story casino hotel? An entire community on pilings above the water? A new Stiltsville?

Send us your plans and drawings, with a brief explanation. The deadline is July 7. And check for more photographs and details. The winning entries will be published in our September-October issue. You may also call Arielle Castillo on our staff at 305 532-2544 for additional photos and information.

Send entries to:
Build in the Bay, c/o Florida InsideOut

404 Washington Avenue, Suite 650
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Submission due date: July 7, 2006


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