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Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Letter From Xavier Suarez to Mayor Carlos Gimenez

This letter is dated December 5, 2017.

Dear Mayor Gimenez,

This regards your memo of December 1, 2017. Most of this memorandum is accurate and presents a balanced update of where we are with the Coconut Grove Playhouse.
However, the memorandum fails to take into account the two most important things that happened during the two days preceding the issuance of this memorandum to wit:

1) At the town hall meeting of November 30th, the lieutenant governor of the state expressed strong doubt about Gables Stage’s ability to operate and/or manage a theatre of any size.

2) Furthermore, at the town hall meeting and again at the Sunshine meeting of December 1st, between myself and Chairman Bovo, the desirability of a larger theatre was discussed as both a means of bringing regional theatre to the Grove and also as a means of solving the appeal from HEPD, which will otherwise be heard by the city commission on December 14th. Mayor Gimenez specifically used the figure of 450 seats, which is a 50% increase over the 300 seats mentioned in the memo of December 1st.

3) Chairman Bovo did not quantify his preference as to seating capacity, but did express a strong desire to have a settlement of the appeal from the HEPD decision. In light of the above, it is incumbent upon us to reconsider the recommendation of a 300-seat theatre and also the involvement of Gables Stage.

I would strongly recommend that the County, for at least the next nine days (until December 14th, 2017) refrain from commenting on these matters until we see if a settlement is achieved as to the HEPD appeal. Any pronouncements that make the large theatre versus small theatre discussion into an adversarial one hurts the chances of a compromise and could delay a settlement of the HEPD appeal.

Let me add that if a settlement followed by a grand compromise is not achieved by the 14th, and if the Miami City Commission affirms the appeal, I will recommend to the Board of County Commissioners that we proceed with a large-theatre-only plan, which will not only accomplish the purposes of preservation (as stated in the bond referendum), but also facilitate the additional grant of $10 million pledged by the City of Miami, which is clearly premised on a large theatre.

Xavier L. Suarez
District 7 Commissioner, Miami-Dade County

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least a 1000 seats are required if you want David Byrne to be the first concert act at the Historic Coconut Grove Playhouse otherwise he would not be able to play.

December 06, 2017 9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would love to see concerts at the Coconut Grove Playhouse. If we allow the County to hijack our theatre/playhouse, we're going to be forced to see plays like "The Motherf**ker With The Hat." Joe Adler will be in control of the entire complex and he is completely unreasonable and not in touch with what people want to see. More than 60% of Gables Stage's operating budget comes from government grants - is that what we call a "thriving business?"

December 06, 2017 11:17 AM  
Anonymous Barry J White said...

Actually, I believe Joe Adler would prefer a small intimate theater, about 200 seats. The old playhouse had the main auditorium, I thinks 1100 seats and a bar/lounge/small theater. Without a restaurant or shops there should be room for a large and a small theater.
Theater is the opperative concept. And as much parking near the theater and on Grand Ave as possible. Also, we always used the Jackison Street exit which not included iin the present plan.

December 07, 2017 3:07 PM  
Blogger Harry Emilio Gottlieb said...

I also attended that Coconut Grove Playhouse Town Hall Meeting. I saw all the folks wearing the blue T-shirts supporting efforts of GableStage to take over the operations of the Playhouse, when it eventually reopens in a few years. I wondered how many actually live in the Grove or ever attended a performance in the Playhouse. I saw the suites that wish to demolish 2/3rds of this treasured historically designated iconic building and replace it with a flashy new contemporary glass and steel structure and parking garage along with a few condos. To better appreciate Architectonica’s work you may wish to drive to 3301 Coral Way and view the Miracle Market Place. Needless to say it’s hardly what is desired for the Grove Playhouse. The fact that little effort has been made to invite the best local Historical Preservation Architecture film to participate is not encouraging. Richard Heisenbottle firm has restored the Olympia Theater, Freedom Tower and even the former Pan Am Terminal, which happens to be Miami City Hall and the very same building this meeting was held in. As I was reading this Miami Today column I could not help notice the absence of the reprimand made by Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez Cantera to MDC and GableStage. Cantera who lives in Coconut Grove has championed the return of the Grove Playhouse for the past ten years of it being abandoned. He is as frustrated as the rest of us that this once powerful cultural and economic engine is still in limbo and continues to slowly be demolished through neglect. Even while having a bad cold Cantera attended the meeting and very passionately demonstrated his disapproval with the process. He dressed down GableStage for not having skin in the game. He dressed down MDC for missing not one, two or three, but four separate deadlines that were required by the State of Florida.

December 07, 2017 8:13 PM  

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