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Wednesday, May 04, 2016

We need to move ahead and stop the destruction

I have to admit that lately I have been getting very discouraged with the direction that Coconut Grove has been going. It's being over-developed, taken over by strangers who want to make a quick buck and it's just not the Grove anymore. When I express my disdain for developers, condos, tree cutting and zero-lot line houses, I am not always cheered on. But maybe I am and I just don't see it. But things are in the works and I'm starting to feel encouraged. I don't want to show our hand yet, but things are happening.

This greed is taking place all over in major cities. In Hollywood, CA, huge mansions formerly owned by famous movie and tv stars are being demolished and being replaced by big white boxes, too. Hollywood history is dissolving in favor of greed. The tours of the Hollywood homes may soon be a tour of the Hollywood big white boxes.

I was very encouraged to see all of the neighbors at the Plymouth Church meeting the other night who are fed up and will start fighting back. And it was encouraging to see some city leaders there who agree.

It's nice to see people who make me realize that I am not crazy to not want crazy progress in our little village. We don't want big glass and chrome condos and we don't want big white box houses built on small lots or many built on large lots. We want it to stop.

Let's hope we can actually stop this nonsense going on around the village - first it was the overtaking of real estate in Center Grove - throwing out the very stores and businesses that made the Grove the Grove. We read all these stories in glossy magazines of how great the Grove is now that we have so many new restaurants, which I do love, but in reality, can you buy a pair of pants in the Grove or even a towel? Are we livable? Or are we just a dining destination with big white boxy houses and dead trees?

Just yesterday in the news, they reported on Mayor Michael Pizzi in Miami Lakes wanting to put a moratorium on new construction in that town. Of course the developers are already threatening to sue, but it appears is if people have had enough. Earlier this week there was an article about Miami Beach wanting all new development to go green or pay a fine. Fines, that may be our answer to over-building.

The Babylon Apartments on Brickell are in danger of being demolished, they are almost 50 years old, too old for Miami standards. But the city's preservation board is considering giving the structure historic designation to save it. People have had enough. Let's preserve our history!

It is encouraging that people are starting to step forward now and some progress may be made in stopping what some call progress.

"The only way to save the Grove is with historic districts.  I don’t think people still get it.  We have good examples in Miami - Morningside probably being the best.  Every district has risen in property values as well.  Then of course there is Coral Gables which should serve as an example for the Grove.  People need to understand what historic designations means and how it works.  I am amazed at the lack of knowledge," says Miami Historian Arva Moore Parks.

We need to learn people.

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...

We support you Tom. The people are with you. Keep up the fight

May 04, 2016 7:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coconut Grove was founded years prior to that of the City of Miami. It was unfortunately annexed when Miami saw the opportunity to increase its property tax base. Coconut Grove now has the distinction of being the oldest neighborhood in Miami. So, how is it possible that much younger neighborhoods like Morningside and South Beach have been officially designated Historical so their uniqueness may be preserved and not so with Coconut Grove? Several efforts have been made in the past to secede from Miami, but unfortunately they have all failed. Perhaps it’s time that our efforts be directed in establishing Historical Designation, so that we may better preserve some of the history and uniqueness that still remains. Will our newly elected commissioner step up to the plate and champion this noble effort? Let’s hope so!

Coconut Grove is the oldest continuously inhabited neighborhood of Miami in Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States. The neighborhood is roughly bound by North Prospect Drive to the south, LeJeune Road to the west, South Dixie Highway (US 1) and Rickenbacker Causeway to the north, and Biscayne Bay to the east. It is south of the neighborhoods of Brickell and The Roads and east of Coral Gables. The neighborhood's name has been sometimes spelled "Cocoanut Grove" but the definitive spelling "Coconut Grove" was established when the city was incorporated in 1919.
What is today referred to as Coconut Grove was formed in 1925 when the city of Miami annexed two areas of about equal size, the city of Coconut Grove and most of the town of Silver Bluff.

May 04, 2016 7:34 AM  
Blogger Your Neighbor said...

This is a really encouraging article, has anyone noticed that there have been no Waivers posted on the planning & zoning notifications website.
The last one was on 4/21/16 is this because they are reviewing their procedures or have they just stopped posting them as required under article 7 of the Miami-21 code? Too bad that it seems the planning and zoning department is on the side of the developers rather than enforcing the NCD code as it was intended. I thought these people were supposed to be working for us.

May 04, 2016 7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Key West, Tarpon Springs, St. Augustine, WPB/Worth Avenue, Key Largo/Gilberts Resort, The Cape or some small town/village anywhere Europe, Asia, Russia who deals in tourism, look at numerous Greek Villages who's tourist trade have closed down due to wars across the Mediterranean as a TIDAL WAVE of immigrants land on Greek shores. All of these tourist locations have tons of T-shirts, booze, quality restaurants and cheap plastic products galore just of some ship who sailed from China. Perhaps in 20 years or so guides will show tourist how we used paint to make all that chrome, glass and brick look like some of those Greek villages being overrun. Plus all our termites will have to move on since very little wood is being used for construction. The Grove is chock full of hard working decent folk that will keep Coconut Grove, Coconut Grove.

May 04, 2016 8:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great article Tom. you are right on point. Every time I see a white box house reminds me of the 80's. It is all driven by greed and quick money for the developers. The grove can progress but it has to keep its history.

May 04, 2016 8:33 AM  
Anonymous Jack said...

Are all of these "White Boxes" designed by the same architect? There is absolutely no creativity.

May 04, 2016 9:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Make plans to attend tonight's 6:30 meeting at the Glass House Community Center. Ask Elvis Cruz how Morningside established Historic District Designation to better protect them.

May 04, 2016 9:50 AM  
Anonymous swlip said...

The urge to preserve the character of the neighborhood is admirable. The urge to do so by imposing punitive taxes and depriving citizens of their property rights is tyrannical.

A better option might be to offer tax incentives to preserve existing structures - a little more carrot and a little less stick.

May 04, 2016 10:34 AM  
Blogger Brian Breslin said...

So I think, and this is only my opinion and I'm not an expert on urban planning nor am I even a property owner here (I can't afford it sadly), we should be looking at how coconut grove's future plays a role in miami as a whole. Where is the city as a whole going? Where is our enclave in 10 years? 15 years? We have to look at cities like San Francisco where they did put moratoriums on building up, and now face exorbitantly high real estate prices (great for property owners, bad for growing the city and having people move in). Do we want this city as a whole to be too expensive for new people to move here who are filling the talent shortage we face? let's take a sober non-hyperbolic look at all the factors.

I wish I could afford to buy a house here, but I'm not about to pay $800k for a townhouse in west grove.

May 04, 2016 10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the old days and I mean old days, say 1100 B.C., 1756, or 1834 or 1960 and even today 5/4/16. Space ship Earth, 3/4 water, 7.5-B humans & growing. The future & humanity is constant, i.e., constantly changing, changing and growing. Presently most humans worth their salt, which in this Grove context translates into property owners, developers and Miami municipal leaders. World wide the game plan is to save up nuts, if you're a squirrel and save dollars, if you're human, you save for yourself, family & education for rainy days and retirement. And if you don't take this money making seriously - good luck!? Most of these so called white box houses are solid as a bolder, most are colorful and well designed, come with trees and other greenery, most produce good solid neighbors and many have discretionary bucks to spend in the Grove and they all pay high taxes. I purchased in the Grove 1965 with nothing but small homes. I'm totally 100% surrounded by these box homes and I have never had one negative thought. Sure, there much, much more traffic and many cars park partially on the roadway. But, all & all, I feel i'm fortuate to have a home in Coconut GROVE. Jobie Steppe
m Jobie Steppe n

May 04, 2016 11:41 AM  
Blogger DharmaBomb said...

If you feel like you're alone in this battle, it's because a lot of us Grovites moved away when our way of life disappeared. Everyone has their own threshold of destruction before they stop fighting and find a better place to live. I haven't found a place better than the Grove of my youth, but I know that Miami is systematically removing the magic from the place I love. You have a lot of readers who aren't around the Grove anymore to attend meetings or give you a thumbs up at Greenstreets to show their support. Keep it up!

May 04, 2016 12:10 PM  
Blogger Lance said...

Great article , let's do a revolution we called the white boxes revolution . We name a Grovite as president and he decide what to get aprove to built.This person (the president ) will have this position for 50 years (historic preservation).

May 04, 2016 2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Origins of the so called "White Box" style of architecture.

Villa Savoye located in Poissy, France designed by architects Le Corbusier and his cousin, Pierre Jeanneret and built in 1931.


Villa Savoye (French pronunciation: [saˈvwa]) is a modernist villa in Poissy, in the outskirts of Paris, France. It was designed by Swiss architects Le Corbusier and his cousin, Pierre Jeanneret, and built between 1928 and 1931 using reinforced concrete. The Villa looks like a huge white box supported by slender concrete stilts that allow you to have the ground floor occupied by the volume of service and partly open to car traffic, while the two upper levels are broken down according to internal movement people. The result is an architectural promenade through simple and austere forms, in line with the principles of Purism, that Le Corbusier had deepened over the last ten years. The building recently underwent renovations, was declared by the French national interest.

May 04, 2016 3:34 PM  
Anonymous Robin Parker said...

In my neighborhood we have two 'white boxes' right next to each other that we call "Casa Legos"...What a child would build with Lego blocks.

My Grandfather, Dr. John C. Gifford, first came to Florida in 1892, settled in Coconut Grove in 1905 and built his home, which is still standing at 2921 SW 27 Ave. It is a good example of what a home should be like in sub-tropical South Florida.

As Miami grew and then annexed the Grove (When its residents were away for the summer.), Gifford unhappily observed: "Miami is the city of palms, and everyone is itchy"....Could this be the city's or the Grove's new motto?

May 04, 2016 3:37 PM  
Blogger Nadine Johnson said...

I have lived in my house in Coconut Grove for the past 6 years. We have had 4 HUGE duplexes built on our little alley of a street. It is only one lane wide. The duplexes are built to the lot lines. Today, with the heavy rains, our street was flooded to the point where I was a prisoner in my home. This never happened in the past. But when there is no land left for the water to be absorbed where is it supposed to go? This really needs to stop!!!

May 04, 2016 6:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nadine, At Gifford & Oak, same problem about 20 years ago. One of the affected property owners grew tired of being flooded; hold that thought, and on Gifford about 3 years ago the City or County paved our street and a neighbor noticed the asphalt was coming up after just one day; both these guys made phone calls, to whom I don't know but 2 storm drains were installed and Gifford was resurfaced and & drainage on Oak has never been better. Since you pay taxes in the Grove someone who cares may respond respectfully as they did in these aforementioned incidents. Go for it, make that call. We can't have that dog belly deep in rainwater. Jobie Steppe

May 04, 2016 8:57 PM  
Blogger sunn said...

dear wonderful people of the Grove. I have rented 6 yrs now a 1939 precious little cottage on Indiana St, previously owned by Christine Drennan an interesting Grovite lady. When she passed away Grove Home Developers bought it, & I have been renting it from them. I read some place the property maybe designated by Ms Drennan to be historic. If that is correct...owners can SELL , but cant CHANGE the structure. I NEED TO KNOW.

After offering the new owner $420K a year ago, which was refused....the owner went ahead & sold it without even telling me. I was not told it was up for sale...The new owners just called to say they bought it.
I am DEVASTATED to say the least! I had planned so many things for the Grove.....a club for "unknown artists" showing their work at this tranquil setting, charity events for the Grove poor & A HOST of other interesting ideas in the offing.....

Now I feel a deep void in my life.....not being able to afford to buy ANYTHING in this most beautiful area & not able to carry out my plans of help & hope for the Grove.....that I love with all my heart. (I sold my big house in Kendall preparing to buy the very charming Indiana St house).....I always said I would have the last OLD ANTIQUE HOUSE in the Grove .....but now my life's plans have been TORN TO PIECES....H E L P!!
Sonia Sanguinetti...305-776-5479

May 05, 2016 12:27 AM  
Blogger Your Neighbor said...

WE need to have 50% green space for small lots<10,000 and 60% for large lots > 10,001. At present the city only requires 30% and that can be reduced to 22.5% if the owner uses permeable material for drive, patio, etc.

May 05, 2016 7:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good gosh Sonia, I've owned a home in the Grove since 1965, and it seems to me the Grove needs a thousand or so folk who resonate like you, so hold on one second! That's a quality heart felt situation you described. A property owner can sell to anyone he wants, however, there may be some precedent to your situation. Did U ever, EVER discuss this with the owner? Legally, you may have 1st rights, I don't know. There are other homes in the Grove that may be available for $420,000.00, as that's a ton of money. # 2. Your future plans for the Grove can still be realized. The fact is I did both the artistic thing while at the same time trying to assist some of our long term homeless crowd. Search my name Jobie Steppe, then The City of Miami took the wind out of my sails & spent about $800.000.00, in attorney's fees fighting me, and lost. I'm ready to go again and need someone dedicated. Jobie 305-447-6526 & 786-473-5120 - Gifford Lane

May 05, 2016 7:55 AM  
Blogger sally said...

The greed you all describe is not just with the developers but with the sellers as well. If you own an old home in the Grove , apply for Historic Designation . This is how you save the character of a city. A terrific example of this would be the city of Coral Gables .
Be careful what you wish for.

May 05, 2016 9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

7:03 AM If builders can reduce the green space 22.5% on a single family home lot then the new construction can barely be called a house. Can you imagine a 6,000 square feet lot with 1,350 sq ft of green space (yard!!!!) and a house with a footprint of 4,650 sq ft. That is the density of a shanty town.

May 05, 2016 12:34 PM  

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