More on the Park Avenue house
Authentic Construction builds custom houses and Ray, who lives in the Park Avenue house with his family, may or may not demolish the old house to make way for something new. Ray says that he loves Coconut Grove and they moved here because they want to live here. The property has two lots, the old house is on the east side and if he can keep the house as-is, he will. On the west side he will build another house, which will fit in with the neighborhood, he encourages neighbors to reach out and guide him. I found it strange to hear that no one has reached out to Ray; he says that everyone has emails and complaints going back and forth but no one has even bothered to speak with him to hear his plans.
I think the red flag was the fact that he is a home builder and that there is a demolition permit for the house.
Ray told me that the demolition permit on the property was already there when he bought it. He moved in to the house with his family to get the feel of the place, to see if it was livable.
Ray invited me over to see the house personally, but I wanted to file this story and didn't have time to see the house first, but I will go by soon. In fact, many of you will have the opportunity to meet Ray, as he is interested in attending the meeting about the Tree Canopy at Plymouth Church on Wednesday night (7 pm).
"I dont know how much I will be able to afford, but the goal is that my family and I stay in the two story home and we build a house on the second lot," says Ray. Two lots face Park Avenue, according to the city.
"If I was to win the lottery tomorrow, and I could build myself a house, well I am going to build myself the coolest 3000 sq foot house possible," says Ray.
I'm not sure how that preserves the old house. But let's hope Ray doesn't win the lottery if that's his plans.
Ray's company does a lot of construction in Bal Harbour, Bay Harbor and Key Biscayne. And he says he is surrounded in these communities with white boxed houses. But he doesn't feel that they belong in Coconut Grove.
"It pisses me off to drive by the South Grove and see a big mansion coming up and overpowering the neighboring house. That upsets me. I love urban planning, I love cities [but this doesn't belong in the neighborhood,]" he said.
A problem with the house on Park Avenue is the street light on Ingraham and Douglas that is always flashing inside the bedroom window. And there is always loud traffic on the street - even at 3 am. But he does want to preserve the house if he can. "I've been speaking with a responsible architect who has served on the city's historic board. I think it's a responsibility, I would like when people come over they can say, this is what the old Grove was like," says Ray.
I asked Ray about the 100 year old columns from the Royal Palm Hotel. He says he met with someone from the HistoryMiami museum and discussed the columns. He also met with Megan Cross Schmitt, the City of Miami Planning & Zoning Department Preservation Officer, who went over to the house to see them. "Even if no one wants the columns, I won't get rid of them, I feel responsible for them," says Ray.
He told me that the columns aren't even authenticated yet, they need to be authenticated to be sure they even came from the old hotel. "If the house goes down and the museum only takes a couple, I will use the rest on the new house," Ray says.
He went on, "I am open to recommendations from anyone who does this kind of salvaging. Please keep in mind I build high end homes, my crew does very detailed work, but I would like to find someone who specializes in this kind of work," if it comes to that.
"I am all in. I am living in Coconut Grove. I would like to do my part to keep the neighborhood the way it is supposed to be."
One thing that I feel will comfort people is that Ray has been consulting with arborist Bob Brennan, a fellow Grovite. Ray wants to protect the vegetation. Now if he could find someone to guide him with the old house in it's restoration.
Before we spoke, Ray told me, "I believe in the values that you are fighting for. I think that when we speak you will find that I am not an enemy, I may actually be able to help the fight."
YOU MAY NOT LIFT THE PHOTOS & TEXT. IT'S COPYRIGHTED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. YOU CAN HOWEVER SHARE A STORY ON SOCIAL MEDIA BY USING THE LINKS HERE.
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.