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Saturday, January 07, 2017

Neighbors concerned about a Plaza St. property

Neighbors are concerned about a husband and wife team are trying to replat a property at the corner of Main Highway and Plaza Street. In  the past, owners of the single family site, on three platted lots, at 3850 Plaza, have tried four times to separate the lot. It's right next to the Christian Science Church. The owners claim to only want to place one house on the lot, but again, does a house have to come down to add a big white box in its place? And of course when there is one big white box, they tend to proliferate into many white box houses.
Oaks have appeared to have been removed. Neighbors should have received waivers, but as usual, people ignore them. Either that, or the City is lying about sending waivers to abutting neighbors. One neighbor stated that they received a warrant six to eight months ago. He says, "We spoke to the developer and then it went quiet." I'm assuming he should have contacted the city with an appeal, too.
There is a meeting where the subject of the zoning will come up on Thursday, January 19 at the MRC building at 444 SW 2nd Avenue, 10th floor. The Plat and Street Committee meets at 1 pm.

So many houses are being knocked down as you enter Coconut Grove from the north and the south. In the north, South Bayshore Drive is turning into big white box houses when developers can sneak them in and of course South Grove is under siege. As you drive on Main Highway, you can see big old houses are now empty lots with that dreaded green tarp around the properties, foreshadowing what is to come. The charm is leaving the village all out of greed. I do understand if someone buys a house and wants to change it or rebuild, but the vast majority of this destruction is caused by speculators who want to make a quick buck. Coral Gables doesn't allow it, neither do most municipalities in Miami-Dade. The City of Miami needs to have it stopped.

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Blogger Unknown said...

The destruction of trees in the neighborhood is always a shame. I would withhold judgement, however, on the architectural merits of the house itself until I see the plans (I have not).

I honestly feel that there is some undue disparagement here of modern architecture. There is more to some of these houses that might appear simply to be "big white boxes." Some actually are very beautiful and finely built. I'd agree that the scale of some of the houses Tom is probably referring to indeed might be too large for the respective parcels of land they are on. However, I think it is unfair to dismiss them all this way. And Coral Gables indeed has plenty of lovely modern homes. I would argue that the clean-looking modern homes in the Grove are on the whole nicer than the pretend and half-baked Mediterranean design in newer townhomes we see in the Center Grove and West Grove.

Some of the old-style Coconut Grove architecture is charming, but much of it is not well-suited to the realities of hurricane winds, flooding, and mold. Obviously, ones still standing have survived hurricanes, but I wouldn't want to be in one if the Grove received a direct hit. Retrofitting some of the old-style houses costs more than it is worth it in many cases, and I think that that's why some owners are choosing to tear them down and rebuild. It can be a more practical option. We might rue the destruction of yet another charming bungalow, but is it realistic to think anyone is buying a plot with a small, ancient bungalow in the South Grove and planning to live in it more or less as is? It is not realistic. Most of the time, those people are paying for the land. Of course, that doesn't mean the city/community should not demand that something of merit and quality be built in its place and that trees, whenever possible, be protected.

Under the current circumstances, if the city were to designate some of these endangered and merit-worthy homes historic properties (and provide the funds to help owners maintain to key historical qualities), this might help the problem the Grove is facing. This isn't, of course, the only way, but it is a way. Miami Beach seems to have found a good approach, from what I understand and see.

As for developers and the chase for the almighty dollar, I think it is unfortunately clear that a number of properties built in the Grove (I'm thinking of many townhomes that went up in the West Grove and the Center Grove over the past five years) have been substandard in quality, both the merit of the design (admittedly, this is somewhat personal) and definitely in terms of the quality of materials and workmanship. There are a lot under construction now (Shipping Avenue, Ohio, and Hibiscus are teeming with activity), and I wonder how nice the results will be. Two sets of modern duplexes completed maybe a year ago on Gifford Lane look quite nice and seem to have been done with care (but they went for something like 900k or 950k).

My partner and I spent nearly a year looking at homes in the Grove hoping to buy one and remain here. We could not manage it. It's not just that these townhomes were priced too high (they were for us). But rather we were appalled at the obviously poor quality of the work done (and that was only what our untrained eyes could see) and the really cheap materials that the developers used. Also, most of the places we looked at were three-bedroom homes, but the size of the bedrooms, living areas, and kitchen were in many cases remarkably cramped and the layout/flow of the places senseless and unworkable. It was astonishing, and the asking prices (of plus or minus 600k) were even more astonishing.

We've ended up on Miami Beach, which proved considerably more affordable.

January 07, 2017 10:07 PM  
Anonymous That Guy said...

Well said U.N.Owen.

Grovites are too quick to criticize and often themselves live in glass (or boxy white) houses. This discussion seems to not include any of the relevant information as to the attempt & purpose for replatting. Moreover, the tone in general seems to be very strongly anti-property rights. There does need to be a balance. Balance does not mean, forget yourself and do as others say.

January 10, 2017 10:38 AM  

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