There's a resurgence, but it's not the Old Grove Spirit
|The original Grove House, when the Grove was the Grove, circa 1960.|
Andres' article says that now "the authentic old Grove spirit, assumed dead by many, is stirring once more." He goes on to say that what the current new revitalization of Coconut Grove "will be more in keeping with the genteel Bohemia of the Grove’s first 90 years than the glitz and chintz of the last 35. How? Are they going to demolish the McMansions, highrises, malls and get rid of the big money? Because I think the horse is out of the barn on these issues, but if they can reverse them, I'm all for it. While I do agree there is a resurgence, I don't think it has anything to do with returning to the "old Grove spirit." I think the resurgence is about turning Coconut Grove into Coral Gables or Mary Brickell Village. The Bohemia is gone.
The whole gist of Andres' article is how with the current changes going on around town, that things are returning to "the old Grove spirit," which is a good thing. I just don't see how adding more chrome and glass and adding more congestion to the streets is bringing the glory days back.
Andres goes on to explain how the new "ultra-luxury" chrome and glass condos going up and that "mall on the water" are the things that are sending us back to the artsy, Bohemian village, which was the whole essence of Coconut Grove. I think keeping Scotty's Landing and the Chart House on the water, is what's "real" and Bohemian. Putting in an upscale, fake Bayside-type place is hardly going back to the glory days of Coconut Grove when Joni Mitchell and David Crosby roamed the streets. I don't see these new structures being any type of inspiration for any folk singers, but then again, are there any folk singers left today? George Michael did use Grove Towers in his "Careless Whisper" video in the 1980s, so who knows?
But I am still wondering how the new high rises, overpriced rents and more offices will make the Grove more Bohemian. The new buildings are just adding to the problem and the congestion of the village. In reality, it's all about money, if the developers didn't feel they would make a killing, they really would have have no interest in Coconut Grove. Their whole concept is to exploit this untapped market.
Art galleries have been vacated to make way for offices and upscale shoe stores. The Drum Circle, a big Bohemian part of Coconut Grove, was thrown out of their home on Commodore Plaza and Grand Avenue by those who claim they are here to help the Grove by buying up the village. Throwing out one of the most Bohemian things there is like a drum circle is contrary to everything that was the "old Grove." And it's un-neighborly.
And as for a cohesion of the Village West and the Center Grove, as Andres brings up in his Herald article, is throwing out the Peacock sculpture which was on the corner of Grand and Douglas, a neighborly thing to do? Nah, it's just spitefulness in the name of "liability." Like the Drum Circle, we can't have anything Bohemian anymore because it's a liability.
And while I like The Eating House idea, many locals feel that putting a restaurant in the Glass House in Peacock Park is not what the residents want, they prefer a community center which it was in 1968. So all these changes may be great for the ones making money, but what about the locals? How does any of this help the local community?
At one point Andres mentions a new bookstore in his article, that may end up at the Engle building. Unless it's the Bookstore in the Grove changing locations, I don't see why anyone would even consider cannibalizing our current independent bookstore, which has served the community well. Can two bookstores survive in the Center Grove?
Changes are coming, but I would hardly call it a throwback to Bohemia or the genteel days of Coconut Grove. We're turning into something else, I'm not sure what yet. Most of these changes are being controlled by big money by a small number of people, sort of how the Grove was stolen by the City in 1925. That's the only throwback and similarity that I can see out of all the changes, a land grab.
Investors, with no knowledge of Coconut Grove, are being chauffeured around the village daily as current real estate is pointed out to them as a good deal. People who never heard of Coconut Grove before are experiencing a hard sell. They didn't just happen upon our little village and fall in love and decide to put down roots, they were brought here by a greedy few; phonies, who claim to love the Grove and want only the best for the Grove. These strangers are being told how they can enhance their hedge funds by buying here, they don't care about the village or the community, they care about their bottom lines and pension funds. This is not Bohemian or village-friendly. What's happening is that Coconut Grove is changing in a big way and it has nothing to do with going back to its past and nothing to do with getting rid of big money and gaudiness. It's all about accommodating big money and gaudiness. The little village spirit is gone and all the new changes are just the nail in the coffin. To say all these new changes are the launching pad to the "Old Grove Spirit" and the return of a genteel Bohemia makes no sense at all. None. It's just the opposite.
I have a story about an old 1912 church I want to tell you about some time.
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