Waterfront project forum at Village Council
I say projects because there are basically two -- the parking garage and the chrome and glass development where Scotty's Landing and The Chart House stand now.
It appears that the parking garage keeps changing size and at last week's meeting, Mr. Noriega told the crowd that the garage planned for the site will accommodate 228 cars, not the over 1600, that was first thought. The garage is 40,000 square feet and the first floor consists of retail stores. The site keeps changing sizes due to people's perceptions, I think we won't really know how large it is until it's built.
As for Mr. Torre, he didn't seem to want to be there. He did not answer direct questions and he beat around the bush which seems to be the case all the time whenever someone has questions. No one has given a clear explanation yet as to how this fits into the Waterfront Master Plan and how they feel these large chrome and glass structures fits into the waterfront setting. Mr. Torre basically ignored the questions. He had ready set answers all prepared, that honestly didn't jive with questions. His responses were, "The retail will be successful," although local realtors who were present didn't think so. And no one asked if the retail will be successful. The questions were how dare you sell out our waterfront against the will of the taxpayers. Also, a big plus for Mr. Torre seemed to be the increase of visitors and traffic. Is that a plus?
When asked why they are not sticking to the Sisaki Plan, ie, the Coconut Grove Waterfront Master Plan, which calls for less than 7000 square feet of retail, not the 100,000 they now have planned, he insisted it was part of the original plan. He, like the others feel that if you say it over and over again with a straight face, it becomes truth.
As for the Village Council, they are in support of the project. "The purpose of the agenda item was to give residents an opportunity to see the MPA's plans for the parking garage and to ask questions about the project. They've done a really nice job with it. We didn't vote, but previously did, in support of the project," says Michelle Niemeyer, Village Council member. Michelle was also part of the Working committee for many years who helped form the Sisaki Plan.
Jessica Lewis, chair of the Village Council explained, "I wanted a Q and A forum, as there were a lot of misinformation floating around. That's exactly what it was."
I beg to differ. I think there where were lots of Q's but no A's at this meeting.
I say Vote NO on November 5. Until we can get answers and the truth about this project, it makes no sense to vote to approve it. There is no rush, even if you are in favor of it. But why are you approving this? Do you know what you are approving? Nobody else does, so perhaps the best thing is to vote NO on November 5 and when the developers and the city are forthcoming, perhaps in the future, then you can vote again, you know, when it all makes sense.
Throwing another monkey wrench into the project is some secret charity that was brought up at the meeting. Grove Bay Investments, the developer of the project, has agreed to pay $30,000 per year to an unspecified charity. For 80 years (the term of the lease)! What charity and why doesn't the city get the much needed money?
It makes no sense to hand over the land to a private enterprise for 80 years. It makes no sense to overtake the Coconut Grove waterfront with a structure that does not fit into the water and boating ambiance and it makes no sense to ignore the Sisaki Plan after years of work that went into it. And what about the secret charity? Why would anyone vote "yes" on this? Vote NO on November 5.
Charles Corda explains his garage math
Smaller garage part of the schematic
About the waterfront parking garage
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