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Friday, January 16, 2009

Is the Grove Playhouse finally on its way to recovery?

Many interested parties from all over the country are interested in being a "theater partner" for the Coconut Grove Playhouse. The partner would actually develop the theater, develop the programming and manage the theater.

A partner should be chosen in the second quarter of this year, Shelly Spivak, head of the Playhouse board, reported to the Village Council last night.

$20 million in capital funds is going to be used to renovate the playhouse. Two theaters are planned. A 600-seat and a 300-seat theater. Ms. Spivak says it will take a minimum of three years to build the theater from the start date. But there is no start date yet and they are not sure which theater would be built first (the 300-seat or the 600-seat theater).

Commercial development will be part of the plan, which will also help support local businesses in the area. Secured funding from the county will be used to assemble a team to work on the recovery. Creditors and the IRS are in on the plans. As of now, the playhouse building has been maintained, utilities are on, insurance is being paid.

Ms. Spivak said that the board members are dedicated to the recovery of the playhouse. Employees have been paid, the Bicycle Shop next door is secured.

Aries development will be the developer of the playhouse, which will include commercial development .

The playhouse is the prime concern of the site, the core of the plan. The plan is to have it running 12 months a year. Underground parking will be part of the project. Historic preservation issues have been considered along with consideration for the adjacent neighborhood.

Felice Dubin, council member, asked, "What does commercial development mean?"

That means maybe a boutique hotel, a conference center, a steak house. Maybe even a home for the Coconut Grove Arts Festival. But the theater board made it clear that the playhouse is the main entity. The rest will fit in around that.

Gary Hecht, village council member, wants to see "magic." He wants the playhouse to happen now. He also asked why the board is still intact when they are the ones who ran it into the ground.

Shelly Spivak, head of the board, said that the place is such a mess, that they are lucky to have any board and essentially, they are lucky that the current board did not desert the ship because of all the problems. She said that if the board had not stayed in place, the site most likely would be a parking garage now.

But the fact still remains that the current board did run the place into the ground in the first place. So it's another case of the inmates running the asylum.

"We will do everything we can to get our theater back," Felice Dubin said.

The Coconut Grove Playhouse Charrette report is

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Blogger Pogonip said...

"Underground" parking? How does that work? What keeps the water out?

Not to discourage! Anything that will bring back the Playhouse and not lead to it being torn down is good, but the mind boggles at the notion of the sump pumps it might require.

January 16, 2009 4:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If fact, there are already "underground" parking facilities at several village center locations including Mayfair, The Knife and the Arts and Minds Academy.

January 17, 2009 7:58 AM  
Blogger C.L.J. said...

On top of that, the front of the Playhouse is actually on a hill; the underground parking would really be more of an "under the building" space, and will still be above the water table.

But if you click through and read the reports, the plans most favored all involve tearing down the actually theatre, but preserving the shops and officess that comprise the structure you actally from the street. No production company will touch a space the size of the current Playhouse.
My concern is that what we see are plans for an auditorium, not a theatre. A theatre is people, not seats with a stage.

January 17, 2009 5:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If there is any intention of producing the kind of Theatre that I've known at CGP, the idea of a 600 seat mainstage is ridiculous. You couldn't begin to produce CYRANO DeBERGERAC (my first show in the 70's)...probably not even WAITING FOR GODOT (The Playhouse's first show). This idea is doomed if it's really intended to be a professional theatre.

May 09, 2009 12:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was thinking that Live Nation/House of Blues should purchase the property and then create a venue that would make Coconut Grove once again a major entertainment destination

June 22, 2009 2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HUGE mistake not to spend the bond money on actually saving the existing building. Learn from South Beach Art Deco district and preserve your history instead of tearing it down. It sure helped Miami beach's economy. The other approach hasnt been working at all for the Grove. http://www.facebook.com/reqs.php#/pages/SAVE-THE-COCONUT-GROVE-PLAYHOUSE/208678153560?ref=mf

December 12, 2009 5:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I Certainly Agree that the Original Historic Coconut Grove Theater Should be Preserved.
As another commentator observed" We should certainly learn from South Beach"
Just a theater in the Grove, no matter how nice, would Not have the same appeal and magnetism of the Original.
Please Restore, Renovate, Preserve this Original Coconut Grove Theater and it WILL be a success and also have a Positive Impact on the Coconut Grove business community.

February 28, 2010 5:29 PM  

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