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Monday, April 10, 2017

We are being sealed in like a can of mixed nuts

It's very disheartening to see how the city operates when it comes to zoning, permits and developers. The other night the HEP Board (Historic and Environmental Preservation) was proof of that. They basically play the residents and make fools of them. They just go through the motions and the developer always comes out ahead in the end.

One of the first hearings at Tuesday's meeting was about the property that Ransom Everglades purchased next door to their campus. It's great that they own the land now and want to keep it natural and undeveloped, but do they really? Neighbors were against the school expansion mostly because of traffic reasons, but again, they are going to do some work on the land, like adding parking lots and other school facilities, but as usual, the HEP board approved the expansion, ignoring neighbors complaints.

This happened with the Coconut Grove Playhouse, too. Dozens of neighbors stood up and I don't think any of them were in favor of the new plans, which basically show what one neighbor in the audience described as "a mixed use development with a theater inside" and if you look at this rendering by the developers, it's amazing that a $20.5 million renovation bond issue turned into a wall of buildings on Main Highway! The neighbors were given two minutes to speak, while two hours before that were given to the developers to give their presentation, their dog and pony show that they have been giving on the circuit for months now.

Look at this image. Disgraceful. Can you even find the Playhouse in this mess? There will be the garage and condo project next to the playhouse along with new buildings and new to the block will be one or two large office buildings, where those two failed restaurants are, next to Greenstreets. Ironically, those restaurants would not fail if the Playhouse was open, but rather than just restore the single Playhouse, they are making a big project out of it and the new office building(s) will almost be part of that project, making that one stretch of Main Highway a wall of buildings.

There is a hotel going in behind and above the Engle Building and there is talk of building up above the former Johnny Rockets/Taco location.

I saw a rendering of the Oak Street Garage that almost made me fall off my chair. That block looks like New York City after the work is done. The new condos at the Bank Building site across from the new office building that the garage will become makes that street a canyon of buildings.

Our little village is being overdeveloped. It will never be the same and it's all about greed. A handful of people have come into the village and decided to remake it, destroying all ambiance and feel that made Coconut Grove what it is.

There are rumors of a condo going in on the waterfront where the new "mall" thing is going in. But that may just be rumors.

Who is to blame for all this over-development? The City, the County? Commissioners? Who? We are living in a non-stop construction zone. There are more construction workers here than residents and it will go on for years. Quality of life in Coconut Grove is shot. Someone said that they are eclipsing the Grove's beauty and they are.

By the way, someone pointed out to me that Ransom received a bond approval from the City for almost $50 million for their expansion, which is for a private facility, and the playhouse received $20.5 million for renovation, which is a public facility.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom again you nailed it!!!! By the way VINOS IS CLOSING (Facebook page) You have spoken the truth and what the majority feel about what is going on. This is just crazy this has again become the "Banana Republic of Coconut Grove" This weekend I spoke with an owner of a business in Coco-walk and gave me an insight. My understanding is only bottom floor will be for commercial use the rest is Office building where Victoria Secret is will be a lobby for the building. Rumor has it Duffys may take old Mr. Moes location. This is Just Crazy all concrete for GREED. So we have more massive empty condos, Massive office buildings, Parking garage that will also be used by Ransom!!!!!

April 10, 2017 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Somebody needs to feed the beast and that is government. I doubt all these city officials many of whom live in the Grove want all this concrete, but it generates tax revenue. This money is desperately needed because of the tendency in the Western world to expand government from a pan national level (like the EU) to Federal Level (like US Govt in which spending is up significantly in the last 16 years) to local county and city government. From a moral point of view the administrative state minimizes the individual and from an economic point of view it is constantly seeking money! We may say developers are greedy, but this is their stated purpose (To make money for shareholders and investors) Government should serve us, but it really works to serve itself.

April 10, 2017 9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I may not agree completely with the Playhouse project, but I will take an office building over an empty parking lot and a bunch of empty restaurants that never seem to work.

April 10, 2017 10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The question of restoring the historic playhouse and the current master plan should be put to a vote by citizens.

April 10, 2017 11:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what efforts are being made by Mr. Russell to place the Grove Playhouse on a public referandium and let the Grove determines its future?

April 10, 2017 1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The construction companies own the roads now. They put up their orange cones at will to block normal activities called "Life in The Grove." Their vehicles recklessly pull out of construction zones without consideration of residents. Note to the construction companies: An orange vest and a flag in your hand does not mean you own the road.

April 10, 2017 3:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grove needs to undo the nefarious land grab that annexed it to the city of Miami so long ago. The grove can easily support better services with lower tax rates, and have more accountable government at the same time.

April 10, 2017 4:08 PM  
Blogger David and Marian said...

This is happening the world over and yet we all know it is unsustainable. The special places like the Grove ARE endangered, the fights bitter. Every single person has to scale down on senseless constant waste or there will be nothing left, and the bitter offspring that you have will point to you and say..."it happened on your watch." They won't point at me, because I live in a cottage, have no kids, don't heat water, or climate control the house any more than absolutely necessary. Sanctimonious? Naw...care about the future, totally. Our future as a species will not survive a growth economy...keep up the good fight for prosperity, contentment with what you have, and (most of all) quality of life. That cannot happen without the native plants and animals that support life in that spot of the world. 440 birds in the US face extinction. The time to stop the madness is now. Take care of the issues inside your house before saving the world. Simplicity results in more time, less cost, more freedom, and the ability to sleep at night.

April 11, 2017 12:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Soooo what is Ken's take on this? Wasn't he supposed to be the savior?

April 11, 2017 9:38 AM  
Blogger David and Marian said...

Anonymous, in this time, no one can fairly expect someone else to fight the battles. We all must fight. I would like some guidance on what to do that would have the highest impact. I am a Grovite living in Canada, but my mom is still there, suffering the massive noise, water, and light pollution in a property that was paradise when I grew up.

April 11, 2017 10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Commission cannot weigh in unless or until the decision of the HEP Board is appealed.

April 11, 2017 11:31 PM  
Blogger Kathy Suarez said...

Tom not sure if you have me saved in your phone I was the crazy one texting you about the $48.5 bond
Miami Country Day getting $9. Approved same time as ransom
Carrollton has received assistance also in past.
Seems so strange that private schools are expanding at such a fast pace all along the same street
Traffic getting worse to point we are seeing more accidents on Douglas coming off of Poinciana and also Bougainvillea
Main Hwy is so over developed it is stupid
How in the world was Ransom giving a green light when we still are not clear about The Playhouse? The Zen is gone
How many old tunes I blasted cruising main Highway without all that concrete blurring my perifiol vision
Then there was the iconic Playhouse so many memories and its just sitting rotting away

April 12, 2017 12:10 AM  
Blogger David and Marian said...

I believe the Kampong (National Tropical Botanical Gardens) is also considering a campus along Main Highway as well.

April 12, 2017 6:27 AM  
Blogger Tony Scornavacca Jr. said...

Any attorneys out there who would be interested in being a part of a secession?

April 13, 2017 8:18 AM  

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