Press conference Tuesday, September 25th, 11:00am
MIAMI BEACH (September 25, 2012)—AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), proprietor of the award-winning and fund and awareness-raising ‘Out of the Closet’ thrift store chain, held a press conference today at its store location in Miami Beach’s famed South Beach (1510 Alton Road) to challenge city officials’ recent rejection of the store’s request and appeal to the Planning Department seeking approval for the paint color of the chain’s trademark magenta pink exterior facade. Throughout the city approval process, AHF officials were told repeatedly by city officials that Miami Beach does NOT approve pink buildings.
Earlier this year, officials from the city’s Planning Department issued compliance citations to the store—which also houses an AHF Pharmacy a Free HIV testing facility—after AHF painted the Out of the Closet storefront the same standard magenta pink its other 21 store locations in Florida, California and Amsterdam are painted. However, the color was apparently not on the Planning Department’s list of approved colors on the city’s “official reference color chart,” which prompted the initial citation and AHF’s subsequent appeals process.
“Every indication we have from Miami Beach officials throughout this process suggests that we are being singled out for punitive measures because we had the temerity to paint our South Beach business our standard colors without first having gotten the blessing of city planning officials,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “For that we are sorry, but what city officials are now doing seems vindictive and contrary to the standards that other businesses in the city are being held to. Miami Beach has a rich and colorful architectural and art palette—from its Art Deco architecture in the 1930s to ‘Miami Vice’ in the 1980s. The city has many pink buildings as well as others painted in hues that are as intense and robust as our ‘Out of the Closet’ storefront. In fact, barely one block from our location, a Pollo Tropical restaurant is painted in rich shades of lime green and mustard yellow that are easily as intense and bright as our magenta pink facade.”
After citations were issued, AHF contested the matter and an appeal to the Miami Beach Planning Committee was set for July 3, 2012. “The main focus of our appeal was that this pink color was the primary component of AHF’s national branding for ‘Out of the Closet,’ which was extremely important, not for sales, but as part of the campaign for people to be tested for HIV,” said Aaron Vinson of Hollingsworth Architects and Planners, who served as a design consultant for AHF on the store. “We also told the Planning Committee that this color was important to create a cheerful environment for those possibly receiving news on their HIV status and those refilling their medications at the AHF Pharmacy. During the appeal, there was a comment from a board member that the color would never be approved in Miami Beach and our appeal was a waste of the board’s time and was taking time away from other appeals/approval requests. I brought up the issue of the lack of color chart. One board member sidestepped the color chart and said that is was not an issue of color, but rather, ‘intensity’ of color. Ultimately, I was able to view the color chart, and found that pink clearly is an approved color, as there are several on the chart. I subsequently did research around town identifying other pink buildings and some buildings that aren’t pink, but are much more ‘intense’ than the color charts—so the Planning Committee has approved much more intense colors.”
“We are proud to have opened this ‘Out of the Closet’ store and HIV testing site in South Beach, something that offered the chance to make a real difference in the community,” said Michael Kahane, Bureau Chief, Southern Region for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “However, we are saddened that the city seems to be so blindingly bureaucratic on this. Ninety-six cents of every dollar raised by ‘Out of the Closet’ stores benefit AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s HIV/AIDS prevention and education programs in Miami-Dade County and statewide, and the community’s use of this facility helps ensure that people living with HIV/AIDS receive the medical care and services they need. It’s maddening that city officials have arbitrary targeted us and that we have had to spend so much time fighting for our storefront color.”
“I approached the Planning department once again and was told pink buildings are not approved by the city,” added architect Vinson. “I was sent an email that mentioned in passing about the color chart, so I renewed my push to review the color chart. Begrudgingly, I was told I could view the color chart, but was reminded that while there may be pink on the color chart, a pink building would not be approved. I then toured the city and took a number of photographs of buildings that are pink. I’ve also taken photos of buildings that have colors that are much more ‘intense’ than the South Beach ‘Out of the Closet’.”
AHF’s ‘Out of the Closet’ thrift store chain
With twenty other locations throughout California and Florida—and one in Amsterdam—AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s popular and award winning ‘Out of the Closet’ thrift store chain is the nation’s largest retail fundraising vehicle for HIV/AIDS medical care and research. The South Beach location is the third ‘Out of the Closet’ to open in Florida; other Florida stores are in Wilton Manors and on Biscayne Boulevard in Miami.