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Local Eyesores: the "Little Beirut" Building

What's your town's most infamous local eyesore?

More than any other place I've lived, Florida seems to be a magnet for weirdness. Yesterday, I wrote about the rediscovery of an "aborted suburb" on the outskirts of my hometown, and today I have another story of suburban development gone strange: a building down the street so ugly it's long been known by Englewood locals as "Little Beirut."

They started building it when I was a kid, in the late 80s. Fancifully dubbed "Vizcaya on the Bay," it was to be two identical, glittering (by Englewood standards, at least) glass office buildings that were going to help kickstart the local economy by attracting businesses from larger towns nearby; they were to be so beautiful, the legend went, that no company could resist leasing office space there. And indeed, when the first building was finished, it was easily the most attractive commercial building in town. People started getting excited. Lease applications poured in. And construction on the second building began in earnest.

But then something happened. The concrete shell of the second building was erected, but then construction stopped -- and never started again. There were rumors of shady finances, deals gone wrong, legal troubles. Whatever the problem, it went on for so long that eventually people gave up hope that the second building would ever be finished, and what had been the hoped-for architectural pride of Englewood quickly became the town's most notorious eyesore -- as it has been for the past 19 years.beirutsidebyside.jpg
Naturally, it became a site of great interest to my friends and I as teenagers -- we'd run around its exposed concrete innards, checking out the newest graffiti tags and finding creepy/unsavory things like piles of used mattresses. Eventually, the town (wisely) erected a 10-foot fence around the dangerous building's perimeter (there was really nothing to keep an inattentive kid from tumbling down the empty elevator shaft or impaling himself on a nest of rusting re-bar), and all but the most dedicated vandals kept their distance. The county's been trying to demolish it for years, but miles of red tape have kept the moldering hulk standing. According to local paper, though, it looks like that's about to change, and "Little Beirut" will face a stranger ending than I ever could've imagined: it'll be sunk offshore to create a sorely-needed artificial reef. Where my friends and I once played, fish and crabs will hang out. Weird.

little_beirut.jpg

What's your town's most infamous local eyesore?

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Mister Rogers Is Now a Funko Pop! and It’s Such a Good Feeling, a Very Good Feeling
Amazon
Amazon

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood for fans of Mister Rogers, as Funko has announced that, just in time for the 50th anniversary of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, the kindest soul to ever grace a television screen will be honored with a series of Funko toys, some of them limited-edition versions.

The news broke at the New York Toy Fair, where the pop culture-loving toy company revealed a new Pop Funko! in Fred Rogers’s likeness—he’ll be holding onto the Neighborhood Trolley—plus a Mister Rogers Pop! keychain and a SuperCute Plush.

In addition to the standard Pop! figurine, there will also be a Funko Shop exclusive version, in which everyone’s favorite neighbor will be wearing a special blue sweater. Barnes & Noble will also carry its own special edition, which will see Fred wearing a red cardigan and holding a King Friday puppet instead of the Neighborhood Trolley.

 

Barnes & Noble's special edition Mister Rogers Funko Pop!
Funko

Mister Rogers’s seemingly endless supply of colored cardigans was an integral part of the show, and a sweet tribute to his mom (who knitted all of them). But don’t go running out to snatch up the whole collection just yet; Funko won’t release these sure-to-sell-out items until June 1, but you can pre-order your Pop! on Amazon right now.

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