Cameo Demolished to Make Room for Portico

Affordable housing oasis demolished

BY AMY DRISCOLL AND LISA ARTHUR
adriscoll@MiamiHerald.com

A homeless man leaves the Cameo Apartments after he and a companion were awakened by the sounds of the stairs being demolished outside the apartment where he was sleeping.

NURI VALLBONA/MIAMI HERALD STAFF

EXIT PLEASE: A homeless man leaves the Cameo Apartments after he and a companion were awakened by the sounds of the stairs being demolished outside the apartment where he was sleeping.

Demolition workers on Monday began knocking down the Cameo Apartments, a building that once offered affordable housing on Miami’s expensive east side but had become a haven for vagrants after tenants were forced out in June.

When the concrete 1950s-era building at 1825 NE Fourth Ave. is leveled and the debris is trucked away this week or next, the land will be ready for Portico, a 43-story condo tower approved for the site, according to the property owners.

The building and its tenants were the subject of a Miami Herald article this summer that examined how the condo boom was contributing to the loss of affordable housing.

Victor J. Labruzzo, one of the building’s owners, said Monday that a deal is pending with a developer in Tennessee, although financing must still be secured. The deal may be an outright sale or a joint venture. The new building was designed by Arquitectonica.

”We’ll have a clean, safe, fenced lot ready for project Portico,” Labruzzo said.

The Cameo land, east of U.S. 1 near Biscayne Bay, has been surrounded by construction for months as other condo towers rose around it.

Even though the building was swept for people before demolition began Monday, two people — a man and a woman — emerged from a second-floor apartment after workers had already torn off the front staircase. Both were able to make their way safely from the building using a back stairway.

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