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Friday, January 13, 2017

Historic designation for Village West?

I had asked Commissioner Ken Russell, what he could do to help those that are struggling in Village West. He sent me this response today.

The biggest change has been the incredible amount of community interest and political will to fight displacement and create housing options.

When I first came into office, much of Coconut Grove seemed very concerned with cleaning up the crime and poverty that was present on Grand Ave. While that is very important and must be addressed, the narrative has shifted with a stronger empathy for the families that live in the area and their wish to continue living in the area. Prior to this, any form of development, gentrification, and cleanup may have been acceptable. I have worked very hard to stand with the residents and give a voice to their concerns. Anyone who has been attending city commission over the past few months has seen that Village West has found a voice of its own. Residents and advocacy groups have been coming to hold us accountable, introduce new ideas, and weigh in on our votes and expenditures. This is the type of presence that I will need to convince fellow Commissioners to vote in favor of the big initiatives that we introduce. When I asked the Commission to agree to $3 million to negotiate purchase of the trolley garage, I received unanimous support. When I allocated $300,000 to create an emergency rehousing fund for the over 100 residents facing eviction on Grand Avenue, every Commissioner agreed. They have even agreed with me in directing the City Manager to examine government owned properties in the West Grove that could be developed for affordable housing, including the former site of the municipal incinerator “Old Smokey” that is our current fire college.

The six blocks on Grand Avenue are still for sale and are not being maintained properly. I have initiated a law suit by the City to force these owners to bring the properties up to code or assist in the relocation of the residents. The conditions are deplorable. The City has stepped up its enforcement of violations but the condition of some of the buildings is beyond repair.

Historic designation of the Coconut Grove Village West is one of my intentions. While there are not enough remaining historic homes to warrant a historic district under our current definition, I will be introducing legislation to allow for new types of historic designation that will preserve and protect the remaining wood frame and shotgun homes and tell the story of a very culturally significant neighborhood.

These changes don’t happen overnight. I know that there is much frustration amongst residents that more has not happened up to now. This month begins my second year in office. Now that we’ve identified the issues and generated awareness and support, I look forward to 2017 and things to come.

Kind Regards,

Ken Russell
City of Miami Commissioner
District 2

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

i hope it's not too late

January 14, 2017 7:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The rents all over the Grove have increased and forced all races to find alternate neighborhoods. I'm sure all of them would have preferred to stay in the Grove too. Why weren't they given money, in all fairness?
Has anyone seem the 5 Star "low income housing" buildings that have been built in Overtown?? They are nicer than most Hotels. These apartments would be great for all of those being forced to move.
The Federal Government built these upscale "projects" for this very reason- to provide housing for these situations.
why isnt the City allocating money that could be used for City deficiencies-like more Police -to help ALL problems in all neighborhoods?

January 15, 2017 1:55 PM  
Anonymous Abigail DuBearn said...

Why don't you name the property owners of the dilapidated buildings? That might help nudge them to kindly bring the buildings up to code.

January 15, 2017 2:23 PM  
Anonymous al crespo said...

It's interesting how the Commissioner has used the 'When I did this, and when I did that,' to describe his actions regarding the West Grove, especially since the city didn't purchase the trolley garage, and as of today I don't think a penny of that supposed $300,000 that he claims credit for has been spent.

It only took a year for Russell to blur the gap between good intentions and good deeds. He might have a lot of good intentions - although there are those who after a year seriously question whether they are good or just politically expedient - but he has actually accomplished very few good deeds, especially in the West Grove where right after the campaign he slobbered all over the Black folks there with all the good things he was going to do for them given that he claimed it was their vote that got him elected.

He could have been a contender, but at this point he's just "Selfie Boy," pimping for votes just like Sarnoff did before him.

Al Crespo

January 16, 2017 10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Commissioner Russell regarding taking action against the landlords for not properly maintaining these properties. All landlords should be held accountable for maintaining their properties in livable condition as required by all applicable laws. However, as a renter, I understand that my landlord owns the property, not me. If the landlord chooses to change the use of the property (to occupy himself) or if he sells the property, I may have to move out, per the terms of the lease or once the lease expires. That is the nature of renting. I, too, would love to stay in the Grove long term, but I cannot afford the rising prices, which means I will have to select a property in another neighborhood that I can afford.

January 17, 2017 4:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The complete Grove needs historic designation to stop all of the destruction!!!

January 18, 2017 3:34 PM  

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