The Olympia Theater in Downtown Miami is a cultural institution. It opened in 1926 as a silent movie palace and has hosted cultural icons like Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Billy Joel, Luciano Pavarotti, Milton Berle, Carly Simon, and Etta James. Maurice Gusman donated the theater to the City of Miami in 1975 and his agreement with the city required the Miami Parking Authority to manage the property.
It is now forty-five years later, and Gusman’s heirs have sued the city to take control of the theater, claiming that the City of Miami has violated the terms of the agreement with their grandfather. They claim that the city violated the agreement when the parking authority gave up management of the theater and therefore gave up its right to ownership. Once one of Gusman’s grandsons saw an order posted on the theater by city code enforcement to repair or demolish the building that his grandfather once built, he decided to sue so that Gusman’s heirs can again have control of the theater.
In response, the City of Miami has asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit. As defenses, the city argues that the dissolved non-profit organization belonging to the heirs does not have legal standing and that the statute of limitations for breach of the agreement has run.
Let’s hope that the parties can resolve their differences and can work together to revitalize this beautiful theater.