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Monday, July 22, 2019

Another lawsuit regarding the playhouse

Attorney David Winkler has filed a lawsuit/petition with the county. "I represent two residents that live within 500 feet of the Playhouse and we will be filing an Amicus Brief in support of upholding the Mayor's veto," he said.

Winkler said, "The County's arguments that the Mayor's veto is illegal are without merit and this is an inappropriate attempt to override the decision of an apolitical historical board decision that found the County's plan to demolish over 90% of the Playhouse was unacceptable."

The petition states, "Dramatic theater rarely benefits from a sequel, and this case proves no
exception." 

The filing may be seen here. It's quite long, but it tells the Playhouse's renovation story from start to finish.

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Sunday, July 21, 2019

Sunday sunrise

Off Dinner Key early Sunday morning.

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Is Mayor Gimenez being spiteful over the playhouse?

There's an interesting article in Political Cortadito, which calls out County Mayor Carlos Gimenez regarding the Coconut Grove Playhouse. It basically calls him a spiteful schmuck. 

It says, "It is proof positive that Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who wants to sell off every part of the county he can before he is out of office next year, has become completely delusional or thinks he can lie with impunity."

They call him, "Esteemed Mayor Giveaway." And go on to say, he will never admit defeat. 

The article asks whether the state — which owns the Playhouse and leases it to the county and FIU, would allow for 90 % of its property to be demolished and replaced which is the county plan.

It goes on to say, "Why is Gimenez so dead set on demolition and redevelopment? Is it because  of the $23 million plus in contracts that are expected to be doled out? Who is in line to get some of those funds and how are they connected to the Gimenez friends and family plan?"

It's an interesting read, you can see the whole article here.

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Saturday, July 20, 2019

Come to the 'End of Summer Bash'

Mercy Hospital is celebrating the end of summer with an "End of Summer Bash." I'm not sure how many kids want to celebrate the end of summer, but if you do, come by the back to school event on Saturday, August 10 from 11 am to 2 pm.

The celebration features four water slides, a dunk tank, a foam slide, pony rides, face painting, train rides, arts & crafts, a bubbles show, Zumba demonstration and lots more.

Kids are welcome to Mercy Hospital’s Teddy Bear Clinic, the Health & Wellness Booth and the Back to School Safety Tips tent. 

And don’t miss the City of Miami Fire Rescue Department splashtacular firetruck hose soak grand finale.

Register to receive a free snow cone at 305-285-2929 or by visiting MercyMiami.com/events

Mercy Hospital is at 3663 S. Miami Avenue.

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Friday, July 19, 2019

Join the Pastelito Eating Competition at Chug's

There's a Pastelito Eating Competition on Thursday, August 15. It's like a hot dog eating contest, only with pastelitos.

Chug's Diner is holding the event from 8 to 11 pm. There's a junior league and a pro league.

To join the Junior League, the cost is $20; that starts at 8 pm. The Pro League is $25 to enter and starts ta 9 pm.

Participants receive 10 pastelitos each and one 16 oz. Luau from Terrapin Beer Company. Whomever consumes the fastest gets a Terrapin and a Chugs goodie bag to take home. 

To join, please email Casey at Casey@chugsdiner.com

Stay afterwards for dominoes and cornhole and additional limited time Luau themed doof.

Chugs is located at 3444 Main Highway.

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New $10 executive lunch menu at Table 14

Table 14, which is in The Mutiny Hotel, is offering an Executive Lunch for $10, Mondays through Fridays from 11:30 am to 2 pm.

On the menu: Cuban Sandwich, Fish Tacos, Turkey Club or Cobb Salad.

And their $5 Happy Hour is from 4 to 7 pm, Monday through Friday, which includes house wines, Prosecco, champagne, selected beers and well drinks. Bar food includes truffle corn dip and chips; fish civeche; Peruvian chicken empanadas; Yuca or ham croquetas; and beef kabobs.

JC and Cristina Digon’s Table 14 Bar & Restaurant brings a new concept in restaurant services that offers it all: a lounge, a bar, Contemporary International Cuisine paired along with Western Classics and a customer-centric dedicated staff. 

Patrons of Table 14 enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus infusing flavors from the Latin American gastronomy with Western cuisine created by Executive Chef Nilton Castillo's global heart and experience. 

The Mutiny Hotel is at 2951 S. Bayshore Drive.

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Thursday, July 18, 2019

A Taste of the Grove at Armbrister Park

The Coconut Grove Homecoming Committee is presenting A Taste of the Grove and Community Softball Game on Saturday, July 27.

Come by Armbrister Park from 10 am to 5 pm for a day of fun. 

There will be a DJ and Junkanoo Kids.

The event is free and open to the public.

Armbrister Park is located at 4000 Grand Avenue.

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'Sleep Matters' featured at Wellness Wednesday

The Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce is staring a new series called "Wellness Wednesdays." The first is July 31. 

These wellness seminars, will take place every other month on the last Wednesday of the Month.

The first topic is "Sleep Matters."

Lack of Sleep can cause a breakdown in the bodies immune system and cause disease. Learn creative natural ways to improve the quality and quantity of your Sleep.

Sample Organic Tisanes you can use as a sleep aid.

The event is from 3 to 5 pm.

Cost: $5.00 for Chamber Members / $10.00 for Non-Members

Get your tickets here.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Chamber holding two networkers

The Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce has two events coming up. First up is the monthly networker on Wednesday, July 24. The event is from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the Woman's Club of Coconut Grove.

The event is in conjunction with the Business Referral Group along with the Woman's Club.

Pre-Purchased tickets online are $10 for Chamber Members and their guests at the door, they are $15. Non-members online is $15 and $20 at the door. You may get the tickets online here.

Admission includes complimentary drink ticket & hors d'oeuvres
additional drinks are at happy hour prices. There is the fun raffle, too.

The Woman's Club of Coconut Grove is at 2985 S. Bayshore Drive.

On Monday, July 29, you can join Women's Happy Hour Monday, the monthly meet-up at the Mayfair Hotel lobby from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.

It's free to attend for men and women. Enjoy happy hour prices and complimentary canapes. 

The Mayfair is at 3000 Florida Avenue. Please RSVP here.

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It now costs more to park on the street - for some

I was out of town for a few weeks, came back, parked in the Center Grove and was surprised to see the rate is $3.00 per hour to park. On the street. I know $3.00 is less than a cup of coffee, but when it comes to street parking that's quite a high hourly rate.

There is a discount for City of Miami residents, which there always was if you use the phone app, but it wasn't automatic, you have to re-apply. Which I did and was declined the first time, something didn't match apparently. So I paid $6.00 for two hours. Once I sorted it out, the next time I parked, I was charged $1.40 per hour to park, which is what I usually would pay.

I wrote about this meter rate rise in December and it was supposed to be $1.75 per hour in the Grove without the discount, but $3.00? Are people going to visit and pay that? What if someone comes from outside the City to spend time in the Grove - what if they come to an event for four hours - they pay $12 to park. On the street! I think it's probably cheaper to pay in one of the lots around the area.

I was just up north for awhile, I was all over - Long Island - The Hamptons, Montauk and New England and I don't remember us having to pay a dime to park at any of these places. It was all free. That's how it is on the west coast of Florida, too. I don't remember ever paying to park on the street in Naples, Ft. Meyers, Venice, Sarasota, and so on.

I reached out to the Miami Parking Authority to ask them where all this money is going, since I don't think it goes to street repairs or anything city related. According to their website, "MPA invests in the construction and management of parking facilities."

I had to read that line twice, because as far as I know, the MPA sold off our only city-owned garage in the Grove to a private developer who turned it into an office building and there have not been any garages built around here since. One plan was to add condos to a much-needed garage which still has not been built at the Playhouse lot. I'm not sure how adding condos, rather than parking spaces to a garage, helps the parking situation or lack thereof.

Also they say, "MPA is an active member of the South Florida community, contributing funding and in-kind services to more than thirty festivals, events and non-profit organizations each year." In-kind means free. So they are not spending any money there.

From their annual report: "MPA, a semi-autonomous, self-sustaining agency managed by parking industry professionals and financed by parking revenues, receives no taxpayer support. Funds not used by operations are returned to the City of Miami, and all ticket citation revenues are payable directly to Miami-Dade County.

Still, I don't understand this $3.00 per hour to park for non-residents. It should be a quarter!



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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Summer bingo night at Woman's Club

The Woman’s Club of Coconut Grove is having a fun summer Bingo Night for the whole family on July 25.  

Doors open at 6:30 pm, and games start at 7:00 with a free snacks and a cash bar.  Adult admission is $5.00 plus purchase of a minimum of 5 games at $1 each. Children under 12 or free. 

New exciting prizes include gift certificates and the winner of the last game gets a $1000 with a full bingo card of 46 numbers called.  Some of the proceeds will benefit the Beautification Committee that is replanting the ground of the Woman’s Club, located at 2985 South Bayshore Drive. For more information check the website womansclubofcoconutgrove.org.

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Circuit court stops lot-splitting

Good news regarding our tree canopy. Last week, the 11th Circuit Court upheld the prohibition on lot splitting regarding NCD-3. In other words, you cannot split a lot from one house to multi-houses on one piece of property if  a single home is currently on the plat of land.

A property at 3600 Hibiscus Street was denied the right to split into multi-dwellings. The developer Amanda de Seta of Lointer Homes, had a plan to split the lot into three white boxy houses, none would have garages. Amanda owned The Bookstore for a bit and Lointer has had issues before regarding multi-lot properties and tree canopy issues. The HEP Board called them out on another occasion Lointer tried to pull a fast one, where they were building a condo on a small plot of land, destroying many trees in the process and adding underground parking for 12 cars. On one lot in a residential neighborhood.

Those plans called for large parts of an old 100 year old live oak tree to be chopped off to accommodate the new building. Luckily the HEP Board put a stop to that.

Hopefully this will be the beginning of the the end to lot splitting and tree killing in Coconut Grove.

We did a recent story on the new research project going on called Grove ReLeaf, "which focuses on teaching plant identification and inventory skills while also developing a citizen science network for urban tree mapping and monitoring across the Miami area," especially Coconut Grove. 

But according to The New Times, "Earlier this year, the Florida Legislature passed a bill to bar local municipalities from regulating tree removals on residential properties.

"House Bill 1159, also known as the Private Property Rights Protection Act, went into effect July 1. Under the new legislation, municipal governments are not allowed to require any permits, notice, or approval from residents who wish to remove dangerous trees from their properties. All a homeowner needs is a report from a certified arborist or landscape architect who says the tree poses a danger." 


Two steps forward one step back.

Here are the limitations and requirements regarding the building sites, which hopefully will override the new state law:

“Miami-21 appendix A3.6.g. Additional Limitations and requirements.   

1.   Lots and building sites: Wherever an existing single-family residence or lawful accessory building(s) or structure(s) is located on one or more platted lots or portions thereof, such lots shall thereafter constitute only one building site and no permit shall be issued for the construction of more than one single-family residence except by Warrant. Such structures shall include but not be limited to swimming pools, tennis courts, walls, and fences or other at grade or above ground improvements. No building sites in existence prior to September 24, 2005 shall be diminished in size except by Warrant, subject to the criteria specified in Article 4, Table 12 Design Review Criteria.”

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Monday, July 15, 2019

A-rod moving his office to the Grove



I had mentioned one time that A-Rod lived at the Twisted Sisters towers, I was wrong, it is Derek Jeter. I always get the two mixed up.

But it got out into the universe some how, because A-Rod is moving his business, an investment company, into the Twisted Sisters. 

A-Rod and J-Lo are seen often in the Grove, you can see them at various restaurants up and down Commodore Plaza a lot.

More on the office here in The Real Deal.

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Supporting home ownership for the working poor

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Javier made his points exceedingly well [in yesterday's letter to the editor]. That said, he never gets to the key point, which is HOW do you keep poor minorities in their own historic neighborhoods (West Grove, Little Haiti, Allapattah, Overtown) under the overwhelming relentless development/money pressure? Government subsidies ("Free Money") mostly goes to apartment buildings and Section 8 housing, which only slightly slows the inevitable gentrification. Some cities (Boston, New York) have defaulted to rent control, which has never gotten support in our "Property Rights" state, much less our City and County.  

To me, the answer is supporting home ownership for the WORKING poor. Help them first to inspire others. In other words, give a hand up instead of a hand out - to a greater extent than is being done now.  It's a political decision, and not an easy one since helping some more means helping others less, at least in the short run.  It also means allowing - after obtaining neighborhood support - limited amounts of increased density ("cluster" courtyard low rise units) into single family and duplex transects. This is illegal "spot zoning" unless done carefully using Land Trusts to hold the land in perpetuity. But it could be done using "Soft 2nd" mortgage financing, and could bring home ownership to those who are now paying $900/mo for rent, which corresponds to $36,000/yr Gross Family Income. You then restrict re-sale of the units for say, 10 years, and the at-risk neighborhoods are stabilized while allowing minority families to participate, if they so choose, in the prosperity they help to create in their own neighborhoods.

Andy Parrish
Coconut Grove

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Sunday, July 14, 2019

Coconut Grove CRA? Say Goodbye to Livability and Historic Character

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

There are two principal reasons to establish a Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) or create an additional CRA District. The first allows the CRA to capture the growth in property tax revenue within the District from the County and from the City and those funds can only be spent within the boundary of the District (through Tax Increment) to alleviate “Slum & Blight."

The second reason for establishing a CRA is to avoid having to ask the taxpayers for permission to spend money on larger projects, and here is where the proposition becomes a risky one: as once the CRA trust fund receives money from the County and the City, it is revenue, and not tax dollars, and can be spent without having to go to the voters for permission.


Extending the Omni CRA’s boundaries into West Coconut Grove – by gerrymandering the area’s disadvantaged, predominately black communities – does indeed create the potential for allocated funds to fight poverty here, but it also creates a mechanism whereby funds from here could be redirected outside Coconut Grove to other parts of the CRA.


Further, the prospect of CRA allocations in West Coconut Grove will only add more fuel to the speculator-dominated investment cycle that is stalling, rather than promoting, real progress in helping West Grove residents. Property owners (both long-standing and out-to-town investment interests alike) are sitting on properties, allowing market forces to continue to value properties up – call it investor driven “Slum and Blight.” The designation of the area, under federal law, as an Opportunity Zone, will further fan the flames.


Case in point: A couple of weeks ago the development group Metronomic purchased some of the Berkley & Berkowitz parcels on Grand Ave. for $6.6 million – an increase of $1.2 million from the sale price just a year and a half earlier, despite the property resting in the heart of an area alleged to be so depressed and economically stagnant that both local and federally dollars are needed to kick start it’s revitalization. And this example is hardly the exception. According to the Finding of Necessity report accepted by the City of Miami Commission, the growth of assessed values of Real Property (the driving force behind a CRA’s income potential) with in the five-year study period (2012-2017) showed an increase of 83.8% or $300 Million.


What’s more, the proposed Interlocal Agreement which was passed by the Omni CRA and City Commission awaits Miami-Dade County approval and calls spending commitments on several county initiatives in the Omni area of close to $900 million through the life (and extension) of the CRA, Yet there is no mention of any spending in Coconut Grove -- only that priority projects will be “NEGOTIATED”.


The argument Commissioner Russell made for extending the CRA is that we cannot save the historic nature of the neighborhood and help residents stay in the neighborhood without funds programs to promote affordable housing. But while true up to a point, the real legacy of a Grove CRA will not be the handful of affordable housing units it preserves or creates, but the skyrocketing property values that, in time, will render much of this historic neighborhood unaffordable for all but the most well-heeled owners.


Is the tradeoff worth it?


Extending the Omni CRA is not the answer. Instead we should be focused on other legislative options. One example is the Neighborhood Conservation District ordinance that can be amended and implemented to assist in protecting the historic nature. To be fair, a recent effort to do so, under Commissioner Russell’s leadership, was soundly defeated by fellow Commissioners. When the City Commission debated the merits of extending the Omni CRA to Coconut Grove I stood up and made it clear that, as a real estate professional, the warning signs made such a proposal unwise: “Development” as CRA’s are meant to do, will only hasten the demise of this historic neighborhood and will only hasten the displacement of its long-time residents. Alas, my words were ignored.


The CRA expansion is shortsighted political theater by Commissioner Russell which, compounded with other political moves, will have long term financial consequences for all residents of Coconut Grove and the City of Miami.


Javier Gonzalez,
long-time Coconut Grove resident, is a candidate for the
City of Miami District 2 
commission seat.

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Saturday, July 13, 2019

Watersports activities expanded to veterans

Shake a Leg Miami has expanded its water sports programming for disabled veterans and their families through a grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In its sailing and fishing programs, Shake a Leg Miami uses a fleet of handicapped-accessible boats, including the 60-foot catamaran Impossible Dream and The Pilar, a replica of Ernest Hemingway’s beloved fishing boat. Shake a Leg Miami also provides physical conditioning and wellness center classes for veterans with physical and mental disabilities, including PTSD. All programs are offered free of charge to veterans and their families.

Upcoming events include:

-Veteran open sailing on EVERY Saturday from 9-2pm

-Veterans sunset open sailing for vets, friends and family from 5pm-7:30pm (EVERY WEDNESDAY)

-Open sailing Thurdays and Sundays (let us now that you will be coming)

-Veterans paddle boarding 07/17/19 @3pm-5pm

-Veterans Fishing 07/25/19 @2:30pm-6:30pm

For more information about Shake a Leg Miami’s Veterans Program, please contact Karis Starke at Karis@shakealegmiami.org or visiting www.shakealegmiami.org.

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