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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Deal made for the Coconut Grove Playhouse

One of the plans for the "new" playhouse proposed by Architect Richard Heisenbottle

This Press Release just in from the County:

Miami-Dade County and Florida International University (FIU) are pleased to announce that  their lease with the State of Florida for the Coconut Grove Playhouse is now in effect. The County and FIU met the State's January 15, 2014 deadline to demonstrate that encumbrances affecting the property's title have been addressed satisfactorily, which was a prerequisite to the commencement of the lease.

The 50-year lease agreement allows the County and FIU to move ahead with plans to return great theater to Coconut Grove. This was made possible through the hard work of many in the County, FIU and the City of Miami, who together were able to reduce encumbrances on the property from  approximately $3.5 million to less than $120,000, which will be paid for by revenue  from the site's parking operations.

"This is real progress in advancing Miami-Dade County as a global center for culture and commerce. Now we can get started on the work to ensure that  this important site is reactivated in order to present great theater experiences for families and children throughout South Florida," said Carlos A.  Gimenez, Mayor of Miami-Dade County. "I want to thank the State of Florida, acknowledge the leadership of the Board of County Commissioners and its Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa, and express my appreciation for the support of County Commissioner Xavier Suarez and City of Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff," he added.

"This is an exciting development for our students and faculty," said  Brian Schriner, Dean of the FIU College of Architecture + The Arts. "We look forward to collaborating with GableStage, a world-class regional theater company, to develop programs that provide superb educational experiences, ranging from student internships to university-sponsored performances andcommunity activities."

The Florida Cabinet approved the County-FIU business plan for the Playhouse in August of 2013. "With the support of Governor Scott and members of the Florida Cabinet, this project has been able to move forward, which will provide opportunities for this community. We also appreciate the personal involvement of Miami-Dade Property Appraiser Carlos Lopez-Cantera (now Lieutenant Governor of Florida), whose passion for the arts community played a vital role in bringing this project to a successful conclusion for this area," said Secretary Herschel T.Vinyard Jr., Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

City of Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff stated, "We are delighted that this great theater can begin its next era of serving Coconut Grove and our entire city. The Coconut Grove Playhouse is a lynchpin for the economic,educational and cultural vitality of Miami. We are looking forward to continuing to collaborate with the County and FIU on the exciting work  of bringing this important part of Coconut Grove back to life."

The next steps in the development of this important theater include initiating the County process to competitively select an architectural and engineering team and finalizing an operating and management agreement with GableStage to manage and program the theater, once completed. In addition, the County and FIU will work closely with the City of Miami and the  Miami Parking Authority on the evolution of this vital cultural and community project.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would anyone like to take a bet?
I wager that the 1st play, or whatever won't take place before, at least by, say about December 2018. So much for this just in press release. Don't bitch, just say you'll take the bet.

January 15, 2014 5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I commend FIU for their involvement to save many struggling programs and organizations in our community. FIU knows how to get things done and I feel confident this will proceed quickly and right on budget!

January 15, 2014 6:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Breslin said...

Anon 5:28PM
This is good news! But lets take a sober look at this. So it will take 6-9 months to find an architect, 6-9 more months to plan. So we're talking say May 2015 at the earliest before demolition starts. Then 3-6 months for demo, because of the toxic mold in place, let's assume 6 months. So that's December 2015 before construction starts. Then maybe another 18 months of construction, perhaps longer due to the historical designations and things that need to be done.so May or June of 2017 initial buildout is done. Maybe you're right that 2018 is the target for opening or at least having a first play.

I am not a contractor, and hope this works faster than what I'm guessing. However getting contractors approved vendors, and everything approved by all the different committees will take quite some time.

January 15, 2014 6:19 PM  
Anonymous Save the Coconut Grove Playhouse Facebook Page said...

The Heisenbottle rendering depicted here of his vision of a potential future Playhouse is out of synch with the news in the rest of the article. That's because if the current plans go through, GableStage will suggest to demolish the historic building and downsize to a vastly smaller theatre (300 seats roughly) and have that new theatre take a back seat to more highlighted surrounding retail that will make Cocowalk look like the Taj Mahal. The Playhouse belongs to us, not to a couple of politicians (Mayor Gimenez and Michael Spring)--and therefore we should not allow them to preemptively determine the demolition of a huge piece of our city's founding history by pre-selecting a theatrical company they know will favor the eradication of that proud history.

January 15, 2014 7:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fact is I'm anon 5:28 & it's not, never going to open or do anything - - - - welcome to modern day U.S.A.. I'll take all bets @ $1,000.00 each escrow account @ Coconut Grove Bank or Tom can hold @ some other bank. I'll take all bets.

January 15, 2014 7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 6:00 PM, Squat for FIU signing on because when they're smart enough to know nothing is going to happen it turns out to be just a public relations ploy. Take the bet; in for a penny, in for a pound of nothingness!

January 15, 2014 7:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Playhouse was a significant driver of the Center Grove economy. A quick and tidy refurb of the old girl would be great for all. Yes, I know the building is toast. Creative folks will solve this. While they're at it, maybe a configuration for live acts?

January 16, 2014 2:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Creativity? Innovation? Historic preservation? No, someone has to get a sweetheart deal.

January 16, 2014 12:19 PM  
Anonymous TIDE ferrari racing,palm beach said...

Terrific, Carpet bagger hit and run builders please don't tear this historic gem down.Friends of the Cocoanut Grove Playhouse[1977-1978]CONVINCED Mayor Maurice Ferrer to make building historic. U.M. wake up this should be part of the Ring Theater/U.M. Drama School. Tom Davis, Jr. was president of Friends group in 1977 the only year the Playhouse made a profit in the 87 year history. TIDE Ferrari racing, palm beach Kim Harrison

January 16, 2014 4:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tobacco Road is to be demolished for a CVS so why not demolish a century old playhouse for a Sarnoff Parking Garage, what do you say Dave?

January 17, 2014 3:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


January 17, 2014 9:52 PM  
Blogger GrovieMom said...

Glad to hear some agreement has been made. Let's hope this gets done as quickly as possible. I do like the drawing you've shown. It seems to keep the historical charm and architecture. A small museum of the playhouse history would be lovely. There should be room enough to build a nice project with an adequate parking garage. Let's try and keep the most we can of the building (definitely the front) but the truth is that sometimes it's easier to tear down and rebuild. Unfortunately, it's been abandoned for too long. I'm totally for preservation, don't get me wrong. Miami doesn't do a good job of it compared to other cities.

January 18, 2014 11:01 PM  

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