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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Grove Playhouse grant denied by state

Were Grovites right the whole time about the Coconut Grove Playhouse? Is the County's plan not historic enough? Is Arquitectonica not the proper firm to renovate the theater?

Max Pearl broke this bombmshell news on the Save the Coconut Grove Playhouse Facebook page.  It's a letter from Timothy Parsons, Director, Division of Historical Resources; he's the State Historic Preservation Officer. A grant was denied to Miami-Dade County and Michael Spring, due to the current county plans not preserving the historic nature of the playhouse enough. Arquitectonica's plans do not restore the playhouse in accordance to what the state would require in order for the county to receive a state grant.

Here is the letter to Michael Spring, 
Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs director and the man in charge of the playhouse restoration. If you don't wish to read the whole thing you can just read the highlighted bold type to get the gist. 


Michael, 
Thank you for your patience in awaiting this reply. As you know, I've been out of the office and I wanted to confer with DHR staff before responding.
 After technical review of Special Category Grant Application 19.h.sc.100.166 (Coconut Grove Playhouse) from Miami-Dade County, the Division of Historical Resources reached a determination of ineligibility for the grant application, due to inconsistency of the proposed project with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines for Historic Preservation (the "Secretary’s Standards”). This determination was discussed with me in detail before it was finalized, and I agreed with our staff's assessment.
In further explanation of this determination of ineligibility, please note that the Special Category Grant program is governed by Chapter 1A-39, Florida Administrative Code, and the Special Category Grants Guidelines that are incorporated therein. Pursuant to Rule 1A-39.001(7)(c), F.A.C., all grant work funded by the Division must conform to the standards contained in the Secretary’s Standards, and additionally, the Special Category Grant Guidelines, in Section IV.4, provide that expenditures for work not consistent with the Secretary’s Standards are non-allowable for expenditure of grant funds and as contributions to required match.
 This project, as presented in the application and associated attachments (including architectural drawings), does not conform to the Secretary’s Standards, in that if carried out as proposed it would not comply with the following Standards for Rehabilitation:
Standard No. 1.  A property will be used as it was historically or be given a new use that requires minimal change to its distinctive materials, features, spaces and spatial relationships.
 Standard No. 2. The historic character of a property will be retained and preserved. The removal of distinctive materials or alteration of features, spaces and spatial relationships that characterize a property will be avoided.
Standard No. 4. Changes to a property that have acquired historic significance in their own right will be retained and preserved.
 Standard No. 5. Distinctive materials, features, finishes and construction techniques or examples of craftsmanship that characterize a property will be preserved.
Standard No. 6. Deteriorated historic features will be repaired rather than replaced. Where the severity of deterioration requires replacement of a distinctive feature, the new feature will match the old in design, color, texture and, where possible, materials. Replacement of missing features will be substantiated by documentary and physical evidence.
 Standard No. 9. New additions, exterior alterations, or related new construction will not destroy historic materials, features, and spatial relationships that characterize the property. The new work will be differentiated from the old and will be compatible with the historic materials, features, size, scale and proportion, and massing to protect the integrity of the property and its environment.
Standard No. 10. New additions and adjacent or related new construction will be undertaken in such a manner that, if removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the historic property and its environment would be unimpaired.
As proposed, this project will result in the loss of integrity of the building. The entire interior of the building would be replaced as part of the proposed structural work. Plans submitted with the application show the complete loss of the interior organization of the front building. In addition, the historic theater space where the activities that make this property significant would be demolished to construct a new building. This would render the property ineligible for the National Register under its significance as a theater.
 These findings during technical review of Application 19.h.sc 100.166, supported a determination of ineligibility due to inconsistency with the Secretary’s Standards, and as a result, the application was placed in “Ineligible” status in the DOS Grants Online System (‪www.dosgrants.com‬) on September 5, 2017, as shown in the application’s online Activity Log. 
 I hope that this clarifies the situation and answers your questions. As you know I am a supporter of the County's efforts to revitalize the Coconut Grove Playhouse and return it to its former vibrancy. A determination of ineligibility for this grant certainly isn't a judgement on the value of the proposed work.
However, what is proposed isn't allowable under this grant program. Please let me know if you have any additional questions, or if there is anything else that I can clarify.
 Best,
TimTimothy Parsons,Ph.D., RPADirector, Divisionof Historical Resources | State Historic PreservationOfficer | Florida Department of  State

"It seems obvious the state, which owns the property, is sending a clear message they are quite underwhelmed with his plan, to put it mildly," said Max.

Spring now will not receive the state grant and the recent voter approval of $10 million is contingent on the larger theater, which is not part of Spring's plans. 

"Even if he finds a way to move forward without the state grant and without the city's $10 million, he still cannot ignore the fact that he has been found to be in violation of seven of the Secretary of State's standards for rehabilitation," said Max.

Two years ago the state said that Spring was not in compliance, did he just ignore that?

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7 Comments:

Anonymous Max Pearl said...

Endangered, protected historical sites, endangered, protected mangroves and wetlands--bah! It's all the same! Just hire a mangrove ripper to rip out the Playhouse while he's at it.

November 15, 2017 10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Restore the historic playhouse.

November 15, 2017 4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This shouldn't surprise anyone. The Secretary of the Interior's standards are clear and not difficult to understand, and anyone who had ever dealt with them would know without further need for determination that the new work as currently proposed does not comply with them. As the letter writer notes, they are not a measure by which to judge the quality of a design, however they are designed to protect historic buildings. Which brings up the question: Why do the folks in charge here, who have submitted for this funding although the design so obviously does not comply, seem to have not even an amateur's experience with a historic building? Wouldn't it make sense to find some folks to lead this project who know what they are doing?

November 15, 2017 5:59 PM  
Blogger Save the Coconut Grove Playhouse said...

You're spot on. To answer your question "why the people in charge seem to have not even amateur experience with a historic"--the answer is that the county chose a firm that *has* no experience restoring historic buildings. The architect selection committee was comprised of five people, each one representing various aspects of the project. One was Art Noriega representing Miami Parking Authority, two others were Michael Spring and his cultural affairs crony Marie Denis, the fourth person was Timothy Barber representing the Black community, and the fifth was Vu T. Phong representing the interests of FIU. Not one historical preservation representative with expertise in that field, in spite of the fact that Michael Spring stated publicly in April 2017 that "historic preservation is our #1 priority on this project". So why no historic preservation expert on the architect selection committee? Someone like Arva Parks, Dolly MacIntyre, Becky Matkov? And why not pick the one candidate who has vast amounts more experience on historic preservation projects--Richard Heisenbottle?

November 15, 2017 7:05 PM  
Blogger DD said...

Yes yes yes

November 16, 2017 11:44 PM  
Blogger Tony Scornavacca Jr. said...

It's a never ending saga. Does South Florida have the most embarrassingly inept (or corrupt) government officials of any area in the United States. I would say yes.

November 18, 2017 11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who's brilliant idea was it to give this contract to Architectonia, the defiler of all things beautiful?

November 26, 2017 1:59 PM  

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