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Monday, July 16, 2012

The Expo Center is an amenity not a burden

I haven't met anyone who wants the Expo Center (Dinner Key Auditorium), the Burn Notice studio, to be knocked down -- even if Burn Notice stays or goes (Oh a few will comment here, just to be able to say the complete opposite of what I say, but in reality, people want it to stay). The consensus is that the place should stay and be what it always was, an auditorium and expo center along with a film studio.

You can see how many comments on the subject are in favor of the show staying. I wish I had as many fans as Burn Notice does! Even my little cousin from NY has been texting me asking about the fate of the Expo Center. I'm getting letters from fans in Europe and all over the US, all in favor of the show. These people see Coconut Grove sprawled across their tv screens every Thursday night, in glorious color (and in reruns at other times on other channels). I saw Burn Notice ads all over NY recently. When people watch Burn Notice, they are watching Coconut Grove. And they know it.

I have seen comment boards where the fans are so into the show that they will discuss minutia like, "Did you see that building in episode #553? Well that was the same building used in Miami Vice in 1985 in episode #65!" The fans know where the show is based and filmed. I get emails almost monthly, it used to be weekly when the show was new, asking me about the filming schedules and if they could visit the set or meet the stars. When I write about Burn Notice or show photos, the Grapevine stats go through the roof. Fans are rabid for the show!

I find it incomprehensible that we are sending Hollywood away. People fight for tv and film production. It's a clean industry that brings money and notoriety and jobs to an area. That's why there are millions of dollars in cash incentives given to production companies. It's a good thing.

The Expo Center is the place where Jim Morrison exposed himself for god sakes! It has major history attached to it as part of what is called the Miami Incident. One time when I was a tour guide on a bus for a night (during Pow Wow), each time the bus passed the Burn Notice studios, one whole side of the bus ran to the other side to gawk and take photos, they do this now with the Big Red Bus as it passes many times daily, watch tourist reactions as the buses go by. The Expo Center is an attraction, not a burden!

Right now the north side, about 40,000 square feet is sitting empty and while the City claims it is too dangerous to open and use, school children have had parties there recently, so it really can't be that dangerous. The north hall is a money maker for the City, which by the way, is broke and needs revenue. It should be opened and used for events which bring many people and lots of money to the area. For years, the Coconut Grove Cares Antique Market was there monthly along with so many other things.

I remember travel fairs and festivals in there, I remember home shows and science fairs and lots of things that would pay rent to the city and bring people to the Grove.

The other side, if Burn Notice stays or not, could always be a movie and tv studio. Marley & Me and other productions used it. As I stated before, we are a little Culver City and the studio should stay. Major rents could be paid by Hollywood production companies to use the studio -- more revenue for the cash strapped City. As for those, including Commissioner Sarnoff, who feel that the Burn Notice crew is underpaying for the studio, keep in mind it is not a studio, or it was not when they got a hold of it, it was a run down building that Burn Notice made new again. They put in the air conditioning and redid the wiring and fixed the leaky roofs and provided security, etc. They made it their home and paid rent while doing all the fix up work, the filmed around the leaks and in the heat and through the fix-ups.

As for park land, the Grove is covered with parks, the waterfront is sprawling with parks almost consistently from Kennedy Park around to Peacock Park with Myers Park, the Seminole Boat Ramp area in between. There is access at the Sailing Club and various other areas. We don't really need a park if a movie studio and convention center works. It is just another amenity in the Grove. You know, we could actually sell the Grove as having sailing centers and parks and a movie studio and a convention center, etc. The Expo Center is an attraction to Hollywood and to tourists.

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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you 100% you have stated it all on this post. We all NEED TO GO OUT AND VOTE OUT Zarnoff. He is killing the grove I live in the center of the grove and we need to be more busniess freindly and not dog and park freindly where we pay for the park from our taxes ( do not get me wrong I love the parks that we have lets just make them better no need for more parks). The convention center has so many possibilities but then again who is running who is in charges. We need to keep an eye out on what and how does Zarnoff gets his votes all I hear and when I talk to people is we do not like him.

July 16, 2012 8:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Falco, no point in tearing it down for another Park when there is Peacock Park & Kennedy Park.

I don't see why in the world the City would want to run Burn Notice out of town with all the exposure the city gets from being on TV. It doesn't make sense.

July 16, 2012 8:55 AM  
Blogger irie said...

Thank God, someone finally said it! We have parks, people! We have waterfront access. What we need is something which makes us unique. Burn Notice fills that need. Marley and Me, the new Mark Walberg/Rock movie...these kind of things help the Grove.

People go to Miami Beach for waterfront. The Grove needs to stress it's originality to bring people in. The major sailing events, from the Orange Bowl Regatta to the Olypic Trials, fill our neighborhood with sailors (money) too.

Let's embrace the cool things we have here.

July 16, 2012 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of you are right, of course. But don't you understand? Marc Sarnoff wants Burn Notice and the Expo Center to go.

Certainly we don't need to discuss this further.

(I wish I were kidding!)

July 16, 2012 9:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On behalf of the hundreds of local film workers and thousands of local actors, background extras, day workers, vendors, hotels, convenience stores, boutiques, restaurants and everyone helping to feed their families from Burn Notice paychecks, we say THANK YOU.
The posts under your previous article show what Burn Notice REALLY pays to keep the Grove center running and prove it is no drain on the community as the city doesn't maintain it, but instead keeps people working.

July 16, 2012 9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, the "unsafe" North Side was just recently rented out to the Michael Bay film Pain & Gain by the city so safety must come first...after cash, of course. Now in what appears to be a bid to attempt to thwart Burn Notice sound filming, the city has rented it again to a metal recycler. The noise factor would be a killer except for the soundproofing that another Hollywood production in there previously paid to have installed. The city's new ad to attract business should be "Come To Miami And Film, Despite Us."

July 16, 2012 9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree totally! Like I said before, it just boggles my mind how in this economy Sarnoff could come out and say "We don't want your business, maybe the design district wants you".

July 16, 2012 10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Tourism board,
I think it's VERY important that you are aware of this, if you're not already.
Commissioner Sarnoff is once again pushing to demolish the building where Burn Notice films and has its' offices. This would be a devastating message to USA Networks who pushed for Miami as a location upon inception, and Fox TV
Productions, who has been great about bringing a lot of work to our community they also produce "The Glades" which films locally as well as another possible project about to start up).

In regards to tourism, MANY people have traveled to Miami BECAUSE of the show. Just like back in the "Miami Vice" television days, when these shows air globally, it is the best free marketing any city could have and as a direct result, people flock to our city. If you want proof, read thru some of the comments on the below link:


Please help let it be known to the Mayor and the Commissioners how important this television show is to our community and to not drive them away by forcing them out of their location. As being part of the Tourism board, you very well know how important tourism is to our community. It is essential to help keep the many hotel rooms booked, restaurants filled and shops thriving, along with the many other impacts it has on sustaining our community. Our community needs your support please. Please contact the Mayor and the
Commissioner, or whomever you know via email, phone calls, and/or showing up to
help voice our concerns. Marc Sarnoff's information is: msarnoff@miamigov.com
305-250-5333 office

Thank you.
Concerned Miami resident - born & bred

July 16, 2012 11:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it me or is everyone shocked that there's actually fans of Burn Notice? People know about it but i dont think they actually watch it.
You guys have to watch this SNL skit about Burn Notice i think its hilarious haha. I think the rest of America is confused too.


July 16, 2012 11:27 AM  
Anonymous Harry Emilio Gottlieb said...

Dinner Key Expo Center is too valuable to Miami Film Industry and to Coconut Grove to be turned into another waterfront Dog Park.

City of Miami says they wish to be more Film Friendly and attract more film production work here.
Fifteen years ago Sylvester Stallone wanted to build a Film studio at the former derelict hanger that is now the very successful Grove Fresh Market.
He also considered building a Film Studio in the former Miami Basketball Arena, which has since been demolished and transformed into a temporary park known As Grand Central Park.
Too bad he had been refused both plans or else Miami would have many more films being shot here.
Jimbo’s has been an accidental location for film production for 40 years. It has been closed and my soon be a park for kayaks and canoes.
The Dinner Key Expo Center was left in ruins for years as a result of no efforts to maintain it.
It too has become an accidental location for film production for the past 7 years with films and TV production such as “Marley and Me”, “Burn Notice” and now “Pain and Gain”.
It too is destined for demolition and will soon be replaced by a park.
We all enjoy parks, but it is very sad that Jimbo’s or land nearby on Virginia Key is not being considered for use as a Film Set Back Lots.
It has the space, would not require closing streets, would not disturb business operations or affect quality of life of residence.
It could also be a tourist attraction.
It is also disheartening that a place like the Dinner Key Expo Center with its ample space, lots of parking and high ceiling, will no long function as a Film Studio.
It is time for the City of Miami to truly partner with the Film Industry and create a Film Back Lot on Virginia Key and real Film Studio at Dinner Key Expo Center, to attract quality film production.
The City of Miami is proposing more unsightly billboards and creating RFP’s for Scotty’s, Grove Marina and Chart House.
Why not create an RFP for a Film Set Back Lot on Virginia Key?
Why not create an RFP for a top notch Film Studio at Dinner Key Expo Center?
Burn Notice leases the Dinner Key Expo Center South Hall for $20K a month. For the past 4-5 years there have paid the City of Miami $240K a year to rent a facility while patching up leaky roofs,
broken plumbing and damaged parking lot asphalt. Their money has been set aside for the demolition of the building. Not a dime has been allocated to staff the former Film Office to help better
service the Film Industry.
The North Hall is actually in better shape and occasionally also generates revenues by being rented out.
The multimillion dollars Film Industry will continue to be a major economic generator and good will publicity machine for Miami, if only we respect and nurture it.

July 16, 2012 11:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

why dont we just level the whole grove area and start over lol

July 16, 2012 11:44 AM  
Anonymous Al Crespo said...

I love the people who now want to vote Sarnoff out of office. Where were you people last year when you could have actually done that.

I also love the folks who claim only to want what's best for the grove, but wouldn't be caught dead showing up every September for the annual budget fiasco at City Hall.

You're nothing but pampered, self-interested whiners who deserve whatever screwing the corrupt politicians in Miami decide to do to you!

al crespo

July 16, 2012 12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said Al.

Go out and vote people!!!

July 16, 2012 2:35 PM  
Anonymous Tony Albelo said...

As an event promoter I miss the Expo Center. The Miami Beach Convention Center is a rip-off (for promoters). Having some small to medium trade shows back in the Grove would be great for businesses like hotels and restaurants - all which are suffering now.

The problem with the Expo center was the management. They had a horrible policy for what shows they allowed and what took precedence. For example, they would allow a small orchid show to take up the whole convention center although they only used up the smallest hall (of the four it was divided into). This made selling the entire Expo Center to larger events very difficult or impossible. I would setup new guidelines to attract LARGER events which would be better for the Grove and its businesses. Then smaller events could use the center on weekends that didn’t impact larger shows.

July 16, 2012 4:05 PM  
Blogger Michelle Niemeyer said...

I agree with Al on the voting thing. Regardless of who you supported, only 8% of registered voters showed up. Unfortunately, as a community we have gotten what we deserved.

Waterfront land should be used for water dependent uses, and in the long term the waterfront master plan puts a sailing center and flexible use park space where in the area where the Expo Center and its parking are. There is no money to build the sailing center now, though, and Burn Notice is there employing local businesses and giving a great deal of publicity to Miami and the Grove. Why would we want to send them away so we can tear the building down and plant some sod? Although the City says they have the money to build the park, the entire fund for demolition of the building, relocating some utilities, and landscaping the park is only a little more than $1.2 million.

I don't buy it. Tearing down a waterfront building that is generating income and publicity for the City to create a vacant piece of land in this economy, with the City broke, looks like the first step toward a development opportunity, or something.

I serve on the committee that was formed to implement the master plan, and strongly support its implementation in the long run, but there is a right time and place for things, and right now the better use is Burn Notice.

July 16, 2012 5:50 PM  
Anonymous Bill Anderson said...

Tony is right!

July 16, 2012 5:57 PM  
Blogger GroveTreeWatch said...

This comes up every year, and every year I have supported that Burn Notice remain in the Expo Center.

I would also like to point out to the earlier email addressing the Tourism Board, that while I do not have any authority to speak for them, I can tell you that The Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau(GMCVB) has always been aware, and highly enthusiastic and appreciative of the impact Burn Notice has on tourism in Miami. In fact, while I was president of the the Board of Directors of the Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce (2007-09), I recall a luncheon where our guest speaker, GMCVB director Bill Talbert pulled out a Burn Notice DVD from his briefcase and said just how much the show does for Miami.

Having a film or series showcase a City as background is any municipal tourism bureau's dream come true. Miami Vice was the source of South Beach. Tourists flocked here looking for what was depicted on their TV screen, and the city molded itself to look like it did on TV. We are still reaping the benefits.

Look at Woody Allen, and how London, Barcelona, Paris and now Rome-- all cities that hardly need a travelogue to push their visibility-- have tripped over themselves to have him film there. They actually pay him to do so. And here is the City of Miami, having Burn Notice wanting to pay to remain, and in doing so also employing hundreds of locals, and on top of all that, showcasing our City to the world, and the City of Miami wants to kick it out.

From my terrace I see the Expo Center. It would certainly be a nicer view as depicted by the renderings of the Sasaki Waterfront Master Plan that the City approved a few years back. According to the plan it would take 1 million dollars to demolish the Expo Center. Just to demolish it. No sod. No trees. Nada.

But until all the money is there to truly implement the design Sasaki gave us, which let's face it, is not going to be any time really soon, I'd rather see Burn Notice there.

Liliana Dones

July 16, 2012 8:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Sarnoff,
Here's a follow up to my last email "what's better for the community". I've cut and pasted the aforementioned email further below for the others to read.

The following has since been brought to my attention:

"The key factor for him is not the creation of another park its the ability to increase the property taxes to all the waterfront condominiums. Once the convention center has been torn down the tax appraisers will come in and increase the ad valorem taxes for the condo unit owners. The city will collect more directly from property taxes than the indirect benifit the 150 Million dollars in locally spent dollars that has been generated by Burn Notice.
Sarnoff's solution to the City's budget shortfall is to raise property taxes rather than bolster industry and tourism. Burn Notice is not alone, the City will not be renewing the lease for Scotty's nor Grove Marina. Two other industries being eliminated for the sake of re- appraising the Ad Valorum Tax along the waterfront. Many more jobs lost and closing of yet more business as a result."

I am deeply saddened and disgusted by this. You like to present yourself as being for the environment and the livelihood of the people by pushing for ANOTHER park when there are already two parks on the water within walking distance of each other (Kennedy - a large park and Peacock), and yet what you're doing is for the exact opposite of that.

Scotty's Landing and the Grove Marina are two places where people who both live in and out of the Grove have enjoyed for YEARS. You are taking away the livelihood of the current residents to try and draw in people with deeper pockets, when it seems obvious that the end result will only be more empty condo units because they will be too expensive for people to afford, all under the guise of trying to be "green" and promote "green" living. I didn't realize that what you meant by "green" was money in place of people's quality of life. You are willing to cause the many people into unemployment, thereby them not being able to pay their property taxes. Luckily they'll have a park to sleep in.

Shame on you Mr. Sarnoff.

July 17, 2012 8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's currently a home located at the address 3000 Shipping Ave, Miami, FL 33133. I feel that this location would be better served as a cat park. Us cat owners can't walk our cats at the dog park since they often fight! Who in the city can we contact to take over this lot and build us a cat park?

Not only would it benefit us cat owners who live in the area, but that corner will be more aesthetically pleasing.

July 17, 2012 10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


July 17, 2012 11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone actually seen the new plan for the Convention Center land? The three story PARKING LOT and the PRIVATE, GATED PARK that will be for the residents of the new swanky condo high rise across the street? The smell coming out of City Hall reeks of the garbage Sarnoff is trying to sell us.

July 17, 2012 11:10 PM  
Anonymous Ken said...

As an "out-of-towner" I have stayed and spent money in the Grove just because of Burn Notice. I wanted to see the area. I definitely would not have otherwise.

July 18, 2012 9:47 AM  
Anonymous Al Crespo said...

Where are these plans. I want to get a look at them.


al crespo

July 18, 2012 10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Google "Coconut Grove Waterfront Master Plan - City of Miami." Its the first result.

When I perused it, I didn't see any gated park. Maybe I just missed it.

July 18, 2012 10:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you support Burn Notice or more importantly, the Miami film industry, please do stop by the link below. It will update every few hours...


July 19, 2012 11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 11:43am We already have the best strip club in the Grove called Playmates

July 19, 2012 10:18 PM  

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