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Monday, July 22, 2013

Why do we need retail on the waterfront?

There are rumblings in the community about the waterfront plan, you know, The Harbour project at the Scotty's Landing site.

The question being raised now is, why do we need this? What is the purpose? Why not make the whole area parkland?

The leases are reverting back to the city, that's the Scotty's Landing site, the Marina and The Chart House. Some neighbors now want the whole area to be parkland and feel that the commercial use should not happen. Only this is part of the final Sasaki Waterfront Master Plan. It specifies watersports related retail and since this area is one of the largest regatta sites in the country, it would make sense to have boating supplies and such, for the sailors.

I have been perplexed that the Center Grove merchants have been quiet about the plan as they will be affected most by the competition. But there is not supposed to be much competition other than the three restaurants that probably will take over the space, replacing The Chart House and Scotty's Landing, which are there now.

Commissioner Sarnoff speaks of a Central Park taking over the Expo Center site and how beautiful the area will be. The developers across the street are calling it Regatta Park. But let me ask you this. If the Expo center is this big ugly monolith blocking water views, why is The Harbour any better? Other than the fact that it has been in the works for years. People had the opportunity to shoot down retail and restaurants when hundreds of meetings took place regarding the waterfront over a period of years.

A garage is part of the plan. There needs to be parking. It's unfortunate that we can't go underground, but of course we can't. Should the garage be tall and have a small footprint or should is sprawl out more so as not to have too much height?

Should the whole waterfront plan be stopped? Should all the leases that are reverting back to the city be then gifted to the residents of Coconut Grove as parkland and not a commercial entity. It's highly unlikely since that was part of the original plan and with the shape that the city is in these days, all money coming in is needed. Ask yourself, if you owned the land and could make lots of money in rents would you take the money or give it to the residents as a park?

And what about City Hall? When are the politicians going to vacate that and give it back to the Grove as an airline museum and restaurant or something similar? That's another question people are asking. That one seems to be quite legitimate.

Tomorrow, I have a response from Michelle Niemeyer, who was chair of the Coconut Grove Waterfront Working Committee during the planning process, which was a committee of residents from all over the Grove. It later became a subcommittee of the Village Council. 

Michelle is currently a member of the Coconut Grove Waterfront Plan Implementation Committee, which is an advisory committee appointed by the City Manager related to the master plan. 

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the renderings the water view is still blocked except if you live at the new grand bay or are in one specific location that you can see a sliver of water. More smoke and mirrors by our so honest local banana republic. What a joke!

July 22, 2013 8:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The whole project is going to be mixed with emotions...cons and pros!
Michelle's input will be helpful on the Waterfront Plan Implementation, is the area in question protected?
Let's remember the Home Depot few years ago, it took a MOVEMENT to negotiate an agreement...

July 22, 2013 11:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Only a nation of unenlightened half-wits could have taken this beautiful place and turned it into what it is today: a shopping mall."

July 22, 2013 12:49 PM  
Anonymous Al Crespo said...

I hope she will also address the issue of Sarnoff going behind everyone's back to gut the Sasaki Plan?

July 22, 2013 1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the look of this rendering, it looks like the backside view of Dadeland Mall. You know, right along the canal. I have no issues w a mix use for the site, w retail and restaurants but there needs to be lots of green spaces, free water views and architectural design that says "I belong". New Urbanism.

July 22, 2013 2:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The whole area should be a public park. Lord knows we don't need more retail, especially not on public parkland.

I love the idea of converting the City Hall building into a museum. The city will soon reach half a million residents, when are we going to get a real city hall that properly reflects our city?

Miamians- stand up for your waterfront, let's protect it!

July 22, 2013 2:23 PM  
Anonymous swlip said...

The problem is not that the park will include retail space, per se. The problem is that committees are generally very bad at determining what the best use for land should be. I think that a better option would be to set aside a portion of the land for lease to private parties, and let the market figure out what should go there.

July 22, 2013 3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"They paved paradise to put up a parking lot." How true, how true. Sad. Not to mention really ugly. Can't something be done so the Grove doesn't look like every mall in town?

July 22, 2013 8:01 PM  
Blogger Headly Westerfield said...

Al Crespo:

Sarnoff does all his wheeling-dealing behind everybody's back so that developers get their way. I thought you knew that already.

Oh, I get it. You were being sarcastic.

Never mind.

July 23, 2013 7:43 AM  

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