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Monday, September 30, 2013

Getting the waterfront facts straight

I love how Mark Dawson, Managing Principal of Sasaki Associates, who drew up the Waterfront Master Plan, sent a glowing letter to Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, saying how much he loved the plan for the Scotty's/Chart House location. I saw this letter a couple of months ago, it was sent to me by the Commissioner's office, in hopes that I would publish it.

This did seem strange to me, as it does not fit the Sasaki plan at all. The original plan calls for 7000 square feet of restaurant/retail space or less. The current plan has 100,000 square feet, plus a huge garage. How can Mr. Dawson approve of this?

Now it comes to light that Mr. Dawson of Sasaki, says he hasn't really looked at the plan in any detail. "My initial response was in relationship to the physical nature of the plan and not the detail," he states. 

It actually does not fit the physical nature of the plan. At all.

Thanks to Charles Corda, Grove activist, who has been on top of this mess since the beginning, this letter from Mr. Dawson was sent this week, to rectify his championing of the project without even seeing it:

"Mr. Corda,   

I am just returning from a well need respite to Montana. I appreciate you sharing the detail nature of what is embedded in the current proposal. The detail of which was not available at the time of my initial response. My initial response was in relationship to the physical nature of the plan and not the detail. I found the general plan appeared to be consistent and improved upon from the 2008 Master Plan and did say the devil is in the detail.....I hope to receive the detail proposal soon from the city so I can respond thoroughly and formally. I will also review carefully the details you have attached with Tom Moriarity who provided the economic and market assessment for the mater plan.  Thank you again for your thoughtful communication and I apologize for my tardy response."

Mark O. Dawson, FASLA
Managing Principal 
Sasaki Associates

Something else that is a bit disturbing, or maybe it isn't, but the law firm of Katz, Barron, Squitero & Faust, here in the Grove, had a presentation and discussion of the waterfront project with its employees planned, which is all well and good, but Commissioner Sarnoff was to be present and no dissenting citizens will were. 

I sent the law firm an email asking the following regarding this dog and pony show:

"Why is a law firm getting involved in this project and why is Comm. Marc Sarnoff being invited yet no one who is against the project invited? As you may or may not know, the majority of Coconut Grove businesses and residents are against the project. 

"Is this legal to have the Commissioner there? I'm just asking, this does not sound right. He voted on the project and I'm not quite sure why he needs to push his agenda on your employees."

Their response came back: "
The meeting you reference has been cancelled." 

Now that makes sense. You don't s--t where you eat.

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 Al Crespo said...


Sarnoff appearing before the law firm is perfectly legal, and also makes sense. Sarnoff in certain circles has become the public face of this deal. I would suspect that he's going around to a number of groups, businesses, etc. to speak on the wonders of this project.

Now, why he's decided to become the public face, is an interesting question that inquiring minds should try and ask him the next time they see him.

I'm sure there is a public answer, and a private answer. Maybe your rabbit in Tomversation could get both of those answers.


September 30, 2013 6:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Dinner Key Waterfront is located in Commissioner Sarnoff’s District 2. The Lease for Scotty’s Landing, Charthouse and Boat Storage has ended. The City has invested a good deal of time and money to help determine a better use. They are looking for means to generate additional revenues, so they will not need to burden our Miami property owners with increasing the property taxes. Since all of this is taking place in District 2, there should not be any surprise (or need for accusatory innuendos) of why Sarnoff is taking a leading role in this issue. If he were not, then there would be more reason to question his lack of leadership. Those that don’t care for the Grove Harbor project which was approved by the RFP Board, Waterfront Board, CGVC and four out of five City of Miami Commissioner (MSJ was absent), should have formed an investment group and hired their own architect to come up with a project that is more to their liking.

September 30, 2013 9:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay. I'll take the previous poster on, although I don't think I need to form an investment group or hire an architect to do so.

Leave things as they are. Renew the leases on Scotty's and the Chart House.

Comm. Sarnoff is already demolishing the Convention Center, so give that to him. He can astro-turf that to his heart's content, fence it in, and give it to the condos across the street. That should satisfy him until we can convert the entire length of Virginia Street into a doggy promenade.

September 30, 2013 9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you realize that you just told the citizens that if they want their elected officials to do what they want that they should hire their own architect and use private sources to contest what appears to be the will of the officials within our current leadership (hah!) as opposed to the will of the majority of the citizens that live in the area?!?
Jesus jumped up Christ in a chariot-driven sidecar!
Stop trying to feed us the line that we HAVE to do this for the City's best interest or we'll have to (dramatic music) raise taxes. How about we stop giving public servants million dollar severance packages and find some that can actually manage the resources we have?

The supposed temporary stewards of our community have given the residents of the Grove the same lie over and over. We were told the same thing about Mayfair, Cocowalk, Ritz-Carlton, Sonesta,etc ,but here they are again saying that 'this' time it will work.
Does the multi-million dollar roadway project on 27th Av really benefit the residents of the Grove? Not really, but it makes a really pretty entrance for the Ritz-Carlton, Sonesta and whatever gets put in at Scotty's.

Please stop trying to sell the idea that the only answer for the use of this property is another shopping mall and that all of Miami will suffer if it's not built.

September 30, 2013 12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Genuine question; "As you may or may not know, the majority of Coconut Grove businesses and residents are against the project."

Can you quantify this? Says who? Where is your evidence of this statement. (Surveys, polls, focus groups...)

I'd be interested to know your research into this or is it based solely on anecdotal evidence and commentators to this blog.

Grateful for your clarification,


September 30, 2013 1:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On Nov. 5th the entire City of Miami will have the opportunity to vote, if they desire the new Dinner Key Waterfront project or reject it. It’s more of an opportunity than was provided to us regarding the rezoning of Mercy Hospital for three luxury condos or subsidizing the Marlins Baseball Stadium and Garage. It doesn’t get any more Democratic than that. Exercise yours right to vote on Nov. 5th.

September 30, 2013 1:31 PM  
Anonymous That Guy said...

I feel compelled to chime in here. Sarnoff should not be advocating for a private development. That causes at the very least, the appearance of impropriety. He is supposed to be a representative, or at the very least a trustee of the citizenry he represents. To actively advocate for a private development is improper and makes him appear biased and questionable. Yes, he should vote for or against it, THAT is his job, but he should not - ABSOLUTELY SHOULD NOT - go around town telling others how they should vote. That is NOT the job of a commissioner.

September 30, 2013 3:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, in my view, the previous poster is entirely correct. It is clear, however, that she doesn't know our esteemed Commissioner Sarnoff.

September 30, 2013 7:01 PM  
Anonymous Roberto Nespereira said...

My real name is posted because I'm not afraid to let everyone know that I am AGAINST this project. As for the person that said "Can you quantify this? Says who? Where is your evidence of this statement. (Surveys, polls, focus groups...)"

My wife and I are against it. I have personally spoken to about 20 of my neighbors, and they as well are against it. I'm sure if you ask around you will find lots of people who actually live in Coconut Grove that are against it. If the developer/developers actually lived in Coconut Grove, it is more than likely they would not be the ones proposing this project. As a Grovite (North Grovite) for over 13yrs, it is insulting for people that more than likey don't live in the Grove to try and ruin our way of life. If this project is never built it would not ruin us in any way. WE DON'T NEED IT. Plain and simple. Once again, my name is Roberto Nespereira and I'm AGAINST THIS PROJECT.

October 01, 2013 10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in North Grove too, on Trapp.

Population of Coconut Grove in 2010, 20,000.

You've spoken to 20 neighbors or 0.1% of the Coconut Grove population.

I personally don't think that's enough to say "The majority of Coconut Grove residents and business' are against this."

My name is JB and I approve this message.

October 01, 2013 12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

20000 but how many people vote and isn't the vote from the entire city ?

October 01, 2013 12:35 PM  
Anonymous Roberto Nespereira said...

JB, are you for this project or against it? I just can't figure it out. You may live in the Grove, but are you a Grovite. Do you trully appreciate and/or understand what the Grove is all about. As for the percentage of the poll, I have a suggestion for you. This evening knock on 20 of your nearest neighbors' doors and ask them if they are for or against. I can pretty much say they will say against. So with my 0.1 and your 0.1 we are now up to 0.2. Bottom line, you will get the sense that people are against this project. As for the person who asked if this vote is city wide, the answer is yes. It is for the entire City of Miami residents. I am willing to bet that 11/05 Grove residents will come out in full force to vote against this project.

October 01, 2013 1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok Roberto why are you so against his project ?

October 01, 2013 5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is our commissioner even remotely familiar with the vacant commercial spaces in the current Grove business district? Moreover, does he have any idea of the challenges facing current Grove business owners simply to keep their doors open? Where in this plan does it address detracting revenue from existing Grove residents and business owners? This "beautification" of the waterfront is a badly smelling perfume on a pig of a greed ridden commissioner. He doesn't understand what the Grove is about. He should stick to self serving traffic circles and polluted playgrounds.

15 year grove resident and business owner.

October 02, 2013 1:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wouldn't this bring more people to the Grove ?

October 02, 2013 9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For about three moths for the novelty of something new.
Remember Flava in the old Masonic temple? Or any of the other clubs that tried their hand there? Packed for three months then.....crickets.
With all the current empty store fronts in the Grove, with all the issues with dealing with our current strains on our infrastructure (water, sewer, etc), with all the possible ideas for that land, we are being force fed a mall and a chain restraunt.

As much as the previous poster way up there would like to challenge Grapevine's claim that the majority of Grove residents are against the garage/mall and calling it "anecdotal", I have not spoken to one person who is in favor of the mall and I know quite a few people in the Grove. Actually, the only people I have heard in favor of this whole project or defending it are those who are in one way or another involved with it. Even the few who come to this blog to contest those who are protesting the mall and garage don't have any reasons for building them other than "tax bonus for the City of Miami" or the occasional poster who comes in with the nonsensical argument that this will bring in more business when there is not enough constant revenue for the existing businesses.
I was born here, have lived here all my 48 years and have at least some minor understanding this town and it's history and I personally think this is not only a bad idea but the worst possible use of the land.
It will create unnecessary competition for an already hard hit area and no matter how pretty all the concept art has been so far the reality will just be another mall.

October 02, 2013 12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Build it and they will come

October 02, 2013 1:51 PM  
Anonymous Al Crespo said...

Once again, folks in Coconut Grove think that they are the dog, when in fact they are the tail, and the tail, no matter how much it wags, isn't going to make the dog do anything other than what it wants.

Wake up folks, Regalado, Sarnoff and others already got your number and are really out in the rest of the city talking this deal up.

Who among you knows who Nelson Horta is? Who among you listens to the half-dozen radio shows, and the equal number of TV shows that are on 5 days a week in Spanish where these people are showing up convincing the REAL voters of Miami that this is a good deal.

If you snooze, you lose, and right now all you folks are in a coma!!!

al crespo

October 02, 2013 7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you believe believe that if we build this Shoeless Joe Jackson will come back and play baseball?

All kidding aside it's almost a close comparison as far as titles go. After all, we we promised a park and the main players are turning it into a shopping mall and garage so we could change the title from Field of Dreams to Field of Schemes.

As long as we're quoting movies how about The Big Lebowski? "New shit has come to light".

"The plan is to build a spectacular resort overlooking the bay, where it is now the old Scotty's Lamding restaraunt..."
-Mayor Thomas Regalado- Radio Mambi interview

October 03, 2013 12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who listens to Radio Mambo ?

October 03, 2013 2:05 PM  
Anonymous Al Crespo said...

Who listens to Radio Mambo? A lot more people than live in Coconut Grove! And unlike the people in Coconut grove they vote!

Your comment shows just why folks in Coconut grove deserve the screwing they continue to get from Miami City Hall.

You're a moron, and it's too bad they couldn't build this pie e of crap in your front yard!

October 04, 2013 6:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Why do I care about radio Mumbai if I live in the Grove ?

October 04, 2013 10:08 AM  
Anonymous Roberto Nespereira said...

The point Al Crespo is trying to make is, this vote that will affect us Grovites will be decided by voters of the entire City of Miami. Not just Grove residents. A good chunk of City of Miami voters are older hispanics that listen to AM radio, specifically Radio Mambi. The Mayor is out touting this project as a good thing to the listeners. If they come out and vote yes, it will hurt us, the residents of the Grove. So, you should care who listens to Radio Mambi. Open your mind and eyes, don't just stick your head in the sand and pray for the best.

Roberto, North Grovite since 2000

October 04, 2013 4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Roberto who other than you cares ?

October 05, 2013 9:55 PM  
Anonymous Roberto Nespereira said...

I guess the Stop the Grove Harbor Project Coalition that was formed last week cares!!!

October 08, 2013 12:33 PM  

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