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Friday, October 20, 2017

Is it more about development than a playhouse?

Michael Spring addresses
the audience.
The County hosted a meeting Thursday night regarding the latest plan for the Coconut Grove Playhouse. Michael Spring, Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, and head of this playhouse project reinforced that the GableStage will be the operator of the playhouse, with 300 seats. He felt that was intimate and worked with the stage and the patrons. "It wasn't designed for chamber music or Broadway musicals," he said.

Bob Ingraham in the audience, brought up the 300 seats planned for the theater, which he felt was too small, he asked if it's more about building and development around the area rather than actual theater. Bob was the technical director of Ransom Everglades across from the playhouse, which has 1000 seats, by the way. He also worked with Sunrise Theater, Parker Playhouse and the Broward Center, which has two theaters - 2500 and 600 seats (they called "the small hall.")

He called the current state of the playhouse "designed neglect." He, as many do, felt that the current theater could be renovated and not destroyed just to usher in development around the whole area. 

The pending appeal was brought up. The City Commission will hear that next week. So I'm not sure what the point of this meeting was, other than to appease the developers and new land owners in the Grove. 


County's design for the Playhouse


One interesting thing that came up was that the debt owed to the city ($2 million or so) will be wiped out if a deal is made with the Miami Parking Authority to put a garage next door, which is part of the plan. Still a bone of contention are the condo units that will be part of the that garage.

It is becoming quite clear to many that the whole project is reversed. Rather than have a theater with amenities, the buildings and amenities now overpower a small theater, like an after thought. It's about the development opportunities, the playhouse is just an annoyance. 


Someone brought up the fact that part of the plan is to have a restaurant or two and a bar as part of the playhouse. How will this help businesses in the area if the whole thing is self contained? 

It seems as if Grovites will have no say in what they would like for the theater. Just the fact that this meeting was held on Flagler Street at the Miami-Dade Auditorium, was an insult. The auditorium was not very full and I suspect most Grovites are weary of the whole project at this point.

The current design renderings and drawings can be seen here.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Elvis Cruz said...

The proposed parking garage is done in the modernist boxitecture style, completely inconsistent with the existing playhouse.

It should complement, not conflict with, the playhouse.

I do not trust the Miami Parking Authority. They have put parking meters all over town, harming both commercial zones and the residential areas behind them.

They have set up paid street parking zones without having received the required permission.

The Miami Parking Authority is an aggressive, expanding empire, now running paid parking lots at places not even in the City of Miami, like Crandon Park.

The MPA is taxation without representation; we don't elect their board.

The Coconut Grove Playhouse deserves better. We, the people, deserve better.

October 20, 2017 6:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am in agreement with Mr. Bob Ingraham I to have theater background for over 30 years. With only 300 seat not even a grade school graduation can hosted, small elementary schools have larger "theater" a local ballet recital, or any act worth seeing. Why is FIU in this if they have their own theater on campus and a huge music hall for concert makes you think and funded by the State. Is this a theater to host events for the community or for FIU and Cable Stage to put in their shows and look better on paper. It just does not make any scene and we voted to RENOVATE not demolish. All around the USA you can see great examples not only in big cities but in small towns. old theaters being redeveloped and renovated in much worse condition. Look what homestead did with their Seminole theater it puts us to shame of what is being done all for greed and money. read this http://www.seminoletheatre.org/about/seminole-theatre-history. We should follow their example.

October 20, 2017 8:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that Bob's suggestion that everybody park at Metrorail and be shuttled over to the playhouse is ridiculous. Only a handful of people will be willing to do that. Parking will be essential. 300 vs 600? I have no idea but it sounds like we have plenty of bigger theaters around town. Making it an intimate theater may make sense. The condos are ridiculous. Who is going to manage that??

October 20, 2017 11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Break up that stupid monopoly Miami Parking Authority and its fat cats.

October 21, 2017 11:08 AM  

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