Gay South Beach – LGBT Visitor Center in Miami Beach
As the 600-member strong Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (MDGLCC) packs up its rainbow flag in preparation for relocating offices to the first floor north of historic Old City Hall in Miami Beach, plans are being finalized to launch one of the country’s first gay Chamber-sponsored LGBT Visitor Centers.
The new LGBT Visitor Center inside the MDGLCC’s new headquarters will become a place of community, information, resources and business networking for the 1.2 million gay and lesbian travelers who visit Miami-Dade County each year, as well as for the estimated 183,000 LGBT residents who call Miami and Miami Beach home, said Steve Adkins, president of the MDGLCC.
The Center is on-target to open April 15 with a grand opening dedication celebration for the entire community with many dignitaries, city leaders and community leaders in attendance.
“We envision the new Visitor Center becoming the nucleus of LGBT activity for visitors, locals and our business community,” Adkins said. “Other cities have LGBT community centers or general tourist information places, but we’re aware of no other city in the country that has a permanent, central location run by a gay Chamber that serves the needs of both LGBT and gay-friendly visitors and locals.”
Located at 1130 Washington Avenue, Old City Hall is literally at the epicenter of LGBT activity in South Beach. Steps to Ocean Drive and the beach, a few blocks south of famed Lincoln Road and right in the middle of bars, restaurants, shops and hotels, Old City Hall is easily accessible by foot, car, bus or Rollerblade. The Mediterranean Neo-Classical designed building was originally built in 1927 and reopened last October after a three-year, $7 million renovation by the City.
There will also be kiosks to display various LGBT-oriented memorabilia as well as branded merchandise for sale as souvenirs. The Center will also have the ability to play host to art shows, book signings, receptions and fundraisers, many of which could be held in conjunction with the high-profile events that Miami Beach attracts, such as the Winter Party, Art Basel Miami Beach, the South Beach Wine & Food Festival and Art Deco Weekend.
“A Visitor Center of this magnitude makes perfect sense for Miami Beach,” Adkins said. “We’re arguably among the top LGBT tourist destinations in the country, if not the world, and the local LGBT community is very well-integrated into the general population, making this city one of the most progressive and accepting in the world.”
That integration makes Miami Beach unusual and provides a bigger opportunity for a Center, Adkins said. “Unlike other cities, there are no ‘gay ghettos’ here where the LGBT community has congregated, nor are there side streets lined with pride flags to indicate the few places of acceptance. Here, people freely walk Lincoln Road or Ocean Drive hand-in-hand and are warmly welcomed at shops, hotels and restaurants.”
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