Too many questions on Waterfront project
I mentioned yesterday that the garage is now zones for "general" businesses on the first floor, changed from "marine," which is what the Sasaki Plan called for.
The garage is not part of the voting process on November 5, but the rest of the 7 plus acres are. This is why we should all vote NO on November 5, as there are too many sketchy items in the plans.
Coconut Grove resident/writer, Dave Villano, sent the following info out regarding the project:
There is no contractual limit to the number of restaurants that can be built and operated on the property. The lease will allow: “one or more casual restaurants, one or more formal restaurants” and “other related food services.”
Shula’s Steak House, Oceano, and Hangar 42 – are not designated under lease terms and may be replaced at any time with other food service concepts and operators.
Restaurants, retail sites, marine services and all other parcels within the 7-acre development site can be "subleased or reassigned” largely at the discretion of the leaseholder (Grove Bay).
80-year lease term will restrict the City from reevaluating and re-designating the site for emerging needs.
Viewed in its entirety, it's my belief that the development plan as presented by city staff, the development team, and as defined in the proposed lease agreement represents a significant departure from the vision expressed by community stakeholders and, ultimately, conceptualized in the Coconut Grove Waterfront and Spoil Island Master Plan. The community-backed Sasaki plan designates the site as the waterfront’s “Civic Core.” The challenge faced by the design team’s planners was to specify limited, low-impact development in a way that would enhance, rather than alter the existing character of “working waterfront.” In my view the proposed development – both as publicly presented and as legally permissible under lease terms – runs contrary to the public’s expressed preferences for access, usage and design character.
Lastly, it should be continually noted that despite the existing structures and commercial operations on the entire 7-acre parcel proposed for development is zoned CS (Civic Space) and the City’s land use designation is “parks and recreation.” In a city that ranks last among major U.S. cities for parkland per capita, we should move cautiously when considering best options for a limited public resource. The city has a long history of leasing public land to private development interests: Bayside, American Airlines Arena, Museum Park at Bicentennial Park, Marlins Stadium, and, here in the Grove, Monty’s mixed-use complex. While the argument is strong to maintain existing boat storage and entry facilities at Dinner Key, we should be asking if the best use of our limited recreational space and park land is for the construction and operation of restaurants, shops, parking facilities and, under the open-ended nature of this lease, other possible commercial ventures.
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