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Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Greed is killing the Grove

We were taking about the new ad campaign for Coconut Grove; "The Nearby Republic of Coconut Grove." I honestly don't see how a new logo and website is going to help. We need major infrastructure changes here and I don't mean new sidewalks. The new slogan didn't bother me, but there seems to be an uproar against it. Reminds me of "new" Coke. Maybe we should just go back to the old Grove. "Coconut Grove" or "The Grove."

A major problem here is that the Grove is turning into the fiefdom of a few major players. Greedy players. The land and businesses are owned by just a few companies/landlords. Someone needs to tell these guys that rents need to be lowered and then businesses will come. It's not 1995 anymore when the Grove was the "it" place.  I was told by one landlord that Apple came here to look around, they didn't open a store because of the pricing on rental space. If Apple can't or won't afford it, how can the average business?

For years I've been saying we need a headhunter for business, but to be honest, if businesses are being priced out of the market, the headhunter can't do anything to help. And I don't think the new logo or slogan will either.

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 wholeheartedly agree. It's too bad Apple didn't have a store in the Grove because that place is always packed and if people went to Apple they would've stayed in the Grove for more eating and shopping.

Once Brickell City Center and the new outdoor mall in the Design District open, "The Nearby Republic" is going to look more like a ghost town.

Lower rents for businesses and extend the 5am closing time and I guarantee you'll see an improvement.

February 04, 2014 7:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree the rent is out of control, I lost my business that I had in the Grove because the landlord would not work with you even after a hurricane that severely damaged the property. Lets not forget the 27,000.00 rent I paid. Business have to pay high rent, the BID and to the parking authority for parking when we have empty spaces in the city garage on Florida avenue. Owners cannot have the attitude of if you will not pay someone else will pay. How many business have to open and close especially big square footage business for owners and the government to realize to lower rent and allow the drinks to be served until 5am.

February 04, 2014 7:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also disagree with the re-branding that obviously mimics Key West, and I absolutely agree the high rent is a problem - customers will only come here if 1) they feel they can afford it, and 2) they know we still exist.

The Miami Marathon draws over 20,000 international tourists, while 3,500 runners, hundreds of spectators and support people, and plenty of PHOTOGRAPHERS and press folks passed by practically every business in center Grove Sunday morning and saw too many "Closed" signs.

I've always believed a fun, artistic, offbeat community could muster a bit more welcoming response to such marketing opportunities - signs, music, and a little spirited cheering do not cost much, and could go a long way with a few media mentions.

The greed of a few may be creating roadblocks, some that can't be controlled, but complacency will absolutely lead to failure.

February 04, 2014 8:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the current situation at Peacock Park is a great illustration of some of the Grove's current issues. Half of the park given away to private interests and the other half inaccessable. A place built, maintained and created thru taxes/public funds has been given away to a church that pays no taxes and the Community Center which was taken away from the residents by NET offices and the Chamber of Commerce decades ago and is now being given to a private enterprise. Thanks to the Miami Parking Authority I have to pay a $1.50 an hour to use the park. It really is a microcosm of everything that has changed for the worst in Coconut Grove.

Greed and a complete disregard for for the people that live here. An overwhelming attitude of "If you can't afford it or don't like it go somewhere else".

Where we used to have a free park and free or inexpensive events that would draw thousands of locals and tourists alike we now have events that cost $20 to park and $20-30 to get into an event. If I want to take a date to a Grove event I've already spent 50-60 bucks before I walk thru the gate. Greed indeed.

February 04, 2014 9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that the Apple store is a hokey rumor. The grove would fit precisely zero of the selection criteria Apple has used for opening stores anywhere else. It is also inconceivable that a company that has the highest sales per square foot and locations located in areas with among the highest rents per square foot would be priced out of the grove. It's a nice story, though.

I do think the rents are probably too high in the grove. I think part of the problem is that what the grove is trying to attract is small businesses, who lack the ability to negotiate aggressively with landlords. What these potential business owners would benefit from would be better market data. Where do rents fall for the grove versus other neighborhoods? How does the potential walking traffic compare to other neighborhoods? What are the average sales per square foot of locations in the grove?

We could sit here and complain that the BID does not provide this data--but their incentives are not aligned. First, I don't think that group is eager for new competition and second, I'm not even sure that it excludes landlords. The person who should be providing that data is the local commercial real estate agents who represent tenants. Are they? Who knows. The other person who could compile this data is you, Tom. You complain that there is no paid advertising on the blog, but that is the same complaint as any other publication. Look at what the Economist has done: it now uses its world class content as a loss leader burnishing its reputation. Its money comes from creating market reports and organizing conferences. You have the relationships to provide this sort of hyper localized data that people would actually pay for. Moreover, you would be doing an actual service to the grove beyond just publishing unsubstantiated blog posts about how greed is killing the grove.

February 04, 2014 10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Miami Parking Authority is not a friend to any Grove business operator and especially restaurants. Let us also not forget the greed of the Coconut Grove Art Festival. How dare any event be permitted by our city to charge a fee for the exclusive use of a public street. I am surprised West Grove residence are not taking them to court as they are over the Trolley. How dare the CGAF to charge such exorbitant booth fees and especially extort the food vendors with demanding a percentage of their sales.

February 04, 2014 10:38 AM  
Blogger F. said...

I couldn't agree more with you Tom. I find this re-naming idea simply ridiculous!

Are they kidding us?!!

February 04, 2014 11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With the BID tax and Parking fee that it collects cost of doing business in Coconut Grove is far higher than other areas in the Miami. Tell Sarnoff hands off.

February 04, 2014 12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By definition affairs of state are a public matter in a republic. They are not decided privately.

This, combined with well developed branding of Key West and the sobering reality that we are controlled and governed by the City of Miami and their City Hall is in the Grove, made me think the initial reports were satirical.

More like a nearby banana republic.

I don't know what is more frustrating - the BID continuing to make bad decisions or knowing there is an ad agency out there that would pitch a Disney concept so off strategy.

February 04, 2014 12:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom... people rely on you for reporting on what's actually going on in the Grove...don't be told by 'powers that be' that you can't report "the news."... it's an open, public forum at these BID meetings, and you have freedom of the press. Many members of the BID board and deciding committees are these same landlords & restaurant and business owners... they are looking out for their own asses... the BID has to raise money to do crazy stuff like a retain and traffic study that most don't know about, incl. the members!, rebrand without any input from the pubic to a non-Grovey image (except for the tree and sail boat)...

I agree with so many missed opportunities to show who we are... the Regattas, the marathons... instead they see closed stores, filth, rude drivers, the pathetic playhouse... thank God for our tree canopies and foliage to provide the beauty.

It's been long said the landlords and city are drunk with greed... Acropolis & Goose are gone now, who's next? Johnny Rockets? Cheesecake Factory?

Keep in the face of these changes Grapevine... keep the people informed... BTW, these BID meetings are open to the public...so drop by and observe, participate... guess you'll have to call the BID office to get the days and times... See for yourself people...

February 04, 2014 12:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon at 10:20 - If it's such a good idea, why aren't you doing it?

A big part of the problem is that the property owners have owned so long, it's all paid for, and they don't care about it sitting empty. Moreover, they charge significant 'key money' to each new tenant, so they make out better if there is high turnover and failure by the businesses - they cover their empty time this way. All costs are passed on to tenants anyway, and the city charges nothing to owners, but and arm and a leg to tenants once they move in. Oh, and they do not negotiate. It's take it or leave it. Which is why every good business opens somewhere else. Other areas are blowing up, and the grove implodes on itself.

February 04, 2014 1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Johnny Rockets is closed - hopefully won't sit empty on the corner for too long.

CocoWalk has to be the worst - letting half of the space sit empty for YEARS!

What are they hoping for?

February 04, 2014 2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Johnny Rockets is closed! Congratulations Commissioner.

February 04, 2014 4:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are things to be done that won't cost a ton. The parks & streets belong to us people & there is cheap transportation into & out of the Grove both @ 37 & 27th avenues. Think: boy meets girl, girl meets boy, boy meets boy & girl meets boy. If this potential is realized, maximized/encouraged via the internet & each person spends about $50/80 each looking about for a mate the Grove would be filled up every week-end. This type of planning takes place the world over & this is what the Grove was known for during its hay day. Yes I'm talking about sex for the youth and middle aged who still enjoy such an opportunity & even some swingers!

February 04, 2014 4:17 PM  
Anonymous Bruce said...

In almost all of Tom's posts that concern the business climate in the Grove, many comments are rants about how much better it used to be, and how scaling back the 5am closing is what killed the Grove.

So who remembers when service to 5am was first allowed? Was in the the hippie 60s?, the artsy 70s, the Miami Vice 80s? I moved to the Grove in 88 and I still remember the motto, "If it's 5am this must be the Road." Then Miami Beach loosened up their hours, and at some point after that the Grove followed suit.
But that was already after Cocowalk I & II. So for all of you who want to go back the the "old Grove" what's up with the 5am closing rants?

February 04, 2014 5:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a commercial real estate agent in the Miami Market and was born and raised in Coconut Grove. I'm opposed to the name change as I feel this is like putting a band aid on a broken leg. Also regarding the author's comments about Apple are completely false. Apple is currently looking at doing another store at Brickell Citi Centre and would be paying close to $200.00 psf in rent. They have another location on Lincoln Road where rents are currently in the $200.00 to $300.00 psf in range so its not that they can't afford the rent but that there is no desire to be in the grove. Why has the Downtown district seen such an increase in demand? It is my opinion that the condo boom and bust actually helped revitalize the brickell market. There were tons of condo projects that were built back in the boom and when a majority of them failed, it was an opportunity for someone like me (I'm 29) to rent in the downtown area for a reasonable price. So everyone my age started to rent in brickell and downtown because it was a cheaper option than the Beach and you didn't have to drive an hour in traffic if you worked in Brickell. On top of the new condos the real game changer for the retail was the announcement that Swire was going to build Brickell Citi Centre. This gave life to the idea of brickell becoming a mini manhattan and evertying exploded. I think the grove needs somethign similar to this to happen for the grove to come back. I think there is a need for affordable condos in this area because brickell rents have sky rocketed and no one really wants to live in the wynwood, design district area because of the surrounding neighborhoods. We also need a big investor to invest some money into the retail (my opinion coco walk) and change the retail landscap. At the end of the day you can't beat the grove's location so people will flock to the grove but we need some new life breathed into it.

February 04, 2014 6:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Grove will bounce back once the new condos are built and Sapient moves into Mayfair. It's called density. The more people who live and work within two miles of the village center, the better it will be for business. Wait, you'll see.

February 04, 2014 8:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Village of West Grove, Village of Center Grove, now this. The Village(s) sounds confused. I wonder how others will think of the Villages. They may think we're at war and not visit.

February 04, 2014 8:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It appears logical to me that when most of the wealth belongs to a very small percentage of people; i.e., logical that all the wealth must be tied up, static, bank acc'ts, stocks, bonds, & real estate, therefore not in circulation & these same folks must own the real estate & accustomed to creating more wealth [high rents]. It also makes sense that an extension of unemployment [which I dislike] would circulate billions; translated use the parks, streets & sidewalks to create activity sidestepping their holdings. This has turned into a universal problem - - - - hasn't it?

February 05, 2014 8:45 AM  
Blogger Brian Breslin said...

There is a concept being brandished around downtown Las Vegas with Tony Hsieh's revitalization project (he has plunked down $200M of his own money), that is collision factor. The more people you have working and living near each other, the more ideas form, the more businesses thrive.
If sapient encourages their 300 employees to wander the neighborhood for lunch, then excellent. Hopefully that will encourage Crispin Porter to keep their offices open (which are on the verge of being closed rumor has it).

I am curious what the current retail rents are like in the area.
If Apple skipped this area, it is because they felt it wasn't growing enough to justify the high foot traffic they need. They gross more per sq foot than any other retailer in america, so they could afford any rent the grove threw at them.

The grove needs more well known things to draw it in, even if that goes against the mom-pop ethos of the area. :-/

February 05, 2014 9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Condos are the answer only to those who can't see. The Grove was a UNIQUE, HISTORIC enclave. Every HOUSE was different, hidden gardens and funky architecture under a lush canopy of green envy are what made this amazing, laid back location so vibrant. Condos clog streets, pollute the bay, block views and change landscapes. Which do we aspire to? Brickell, where it takes 50 minutes now to go 10 blocks, or Wynwood, which became what we should be right now? Of course, the condo greed is hitting them right now, Miami developer scum have bought up a ton of property there and are about to tear it down.

Then came the greed. No historic preservation. Fooled into saying "No" to home depot will turning a blind eye to the absolute destruction laid to certain Grove neighborhoods. And thus, all the affordable rentals for artists, students (without trust funds) and young people in general were also torn down, and a new class of spoiled new money crowd moved into the McMansions.

Meanwhile, the rent kept soaring. Businesses moved out. And keep moving out. Politicians play games, make false promises to people like Jon who did invest in the Grove, force other Grove people to build in South Miami because of ridiculous rental demands, and drag their feet on the Playhouse, which could completely re-invigorate the Grove.

It is a reflection of the leadership. When all these negative changes happen under the watch of the same people over a long period of time, what does that tell you?

February 06, 2014 11:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not just about "greed." I know someone who owns a commercial property in the Grove- a great space in the heart of it- and he's been completely unable to find a tenant, despite offering a very low rate. The problem is there is not enough people coming to or in the Grove right now to support businesses, no matter how cheap the rent. It takes a great deal of risk to start a new business- especially in an area where people aren't spending a lot of money. You through in all the ridiculous taxes, regulations and fess that the city, state and federal government put on these things, and it's a wonder anything gets done.

I think Grovites need to start asking themselves: do you want a thriving business district? Are you going to actually go spend your money there, or do you just expect other people to come support it? Do you support local, state and federal politicians that raise taxes and fees on businesses? Maybe you need to reassess your support.

February 06, 2014 6:38 PM  
Blogger Will Plasencia said...

I echo and wholeheartedly agree with what Brian Breslin says here. The Grove needs more people wandering and exploring and "colliding."

February 07, 2014 1:50 PM  

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