Miami approves plan to save archeological find on high-rise site

Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:27pm EDT
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By Zachary Fagenson

MIAMI (Reuters) - Miami city commissioners approved a plan on Thursday to preserve the remains of a 2,000-year-old Native American village found on the site of a planned multibillion-dollar high-rise development.

Archaeologists have described the Tequesta Indian site as one of the most significant Native American finds in Florida.

It was discovered in 2005 when developers began excavating what had long been a parking lot. Since then, archaeologists have discovered eight circles of holes in the limestone bedrock where they say supports for Tequesta huts may have stood.

After weeks of negotiations, preservationists and the Miami-based MDM Development Group agreed on a plan that would build two-story glass enclosures above and around two of the circles.

A third circle will be encased alongside the remains of the foundation of the Royal Palm Hotel, built in 1897 by industrialist Henry Flagler, widely credited with establishing Miami. The hotel's remnants were also discovered on the site.

The plan, however, still garnered criticism from some Miami residents that it did not go far enough to protect the site and its history.

"There were negotiations in which there was not one Native American," said John DeLeon, an attorney.

MDM's construction plans include a movie theater, restaurants and a 34-story hotel covering an entire city block, including the archaeological site.   Continued...

An archaeologist looks for ancient artifacts at a construction site in downtown Miami February 4, 2014. REUTERS/Zachary Fagenson