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MIAMI-The 15-story, 92,000-sf landmark Freedom Tower building at 600 Biscayne Blvd. will have its 12th owner shortly when the property is formerly transferred by local developer Terra Development Inc. to Miami Dade College. The deal is expected to be completed by Nov. 1, sources familiar with the site tell GlobeSt.com.

The donation was first announced in November 2005 but title transferred was delayed as the developer sought to work out a deal with the city to demolish part of the historic building for the development of luxury residential condos, sources familiar with the transaction tell GlobeSt.com. The city denied the demolition permit but is allowing Terra to develop a 62-story, 685-unit tower behind Freedom Tower.

Terra is also developing a 516-unit residential condo project at 900 Biscayne Blvd. and received city approval last month to build City Square, a 130-foot tall, 641,104-sf retail complex behind the east hall of the $461-million Carnival Center for the Performing Arts.

Miami Dade College president Eduardo Padron previously announced plans to open a museum and art studios in Freedom Tower that would be associated with the college’s established New World School of the Arts. This program offers college and high school degrees and is affiliated with the University of Florida and Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Padron previously said projected annual operating costs for the converted Freedom Tower structure would be about $1 million.

Local historians tell GlobeSt.com the pending Freedom Tower title transfer transaction has special significance to the large Cuban-speaking community in Miami because the federal government bought and used the facility in the early 1960s and 1970s to process, document and provide medical and dental services for 400,000 immigrants fleeing Fidel Castro’s regime.

The building was originally completed in 1925 as the headquarters and printing facility of the Miami News & Metropolis. Later called the Miami News, the afternoon paper couldn’t compete successfully with the morning Miami Herald and folded in the early 1950s, according to former editors and reporters who worked at the News at that time.

The government sold the building in the 1970s. Ownership then began passing rapidly through several entities until it was finally abandoned. In 1997, Cuban-American millionaire industrialist Jorge Mas Canosa bought the building for $4.1 million, according to published reports at that time. Terra Development Inc. acquired the building in 2005.

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