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Friday, January 05, 2018

A Response to Glenn Terry’s Misinformed Letter

This letter is in response to Glenn Terry's letter, "Petty politics plague our playhouse."

Shame on you Glenn Terry for regurgitating the Playhouse stories you have read. You’ve taken other persons’ “facts” and portrayed them as your own, as if they were correctly stated the first time. Many were not and you have failed to do your own research. 

The last time the Playhouse failed and closed was due to mismanagement, not because the building wasn’t a “state of the art stage.” There are hundreds of historical playhouses across the nation that pack-them-in with less than what a renovated Coconut Playhouse will have.


Miami-Dade County, which has spent the last 11 years “doing nothing," is the same group you believe “has done their homework.” Mr. Terry, I guess you just decided to skip over the several occasions that Lt. Governor López-Cantera chastised Miami-Dade County’s Michael Spring for failing to live up to the terms of the lease and for failing to secure the Playhouse from further destruction by neglect. You and I agree on one point; the State is very close to taking back the Playhouse property. You believe the reason the State is close to taking back the property is because Commissioner Russell had “derailed” the project. The real reason is because Miami-Dade County has failed to live up to their promises and is more interested in condos, apartments, shops and restaurants than it is in theatre. 

You also state that the County’s “plans to finance it are in place.” Once again, you are incorrect. The citizens voted upon the 2004 County bond issue and the $20 million allocated for the Playhouse is to be used to restore the Playhouse, not to knock it down. While the County believes it can use the specifically allocated $20 million for their demolition plan, they would be wrong in doing so. I believe there are several local citizens and groups who would fight the misappropriation of the bond money in court and I believe they will prevail. It is really a very simple argument; “restoration” does not mean “destruction.”

Furthermore, the Playhouse is a single building not two separate buildings as you misstate. It seems you have adopted the County’s self serving idea that only “the more significant portion of a historical structure should be saved.” The front of the building was never used as a “Playhouse.” It was used as offices and apartments – the Playhouse is a single building and the entire building is historical. The County paid Jorge Hernandez, the County’s expert, for his opinion regarding the “more significant” portion and you, as well as other residents have been misled.

The Eidson group, or as you called them, the 700 seat group, are not expecting to “build two theaters inside of [the main theater].” The Eidson idea, which has not been finalized, is to restore and renovate the main theater and have approximately 700 seats, with a smaller 200 seat building alongside the main building. Mr. Terry, if you are going to “like something,” understand what you are “liking,” especially when you are offering your opinion to hundreds of other interested persons.

As far as “the derailment,” it was not Ken Russell’s idea to keep the County from following through. It was the two appellants, Barbara Lang and Katrina Morris who stopped the County from demolishing the Playhouse. Commissioner Russell did participate in the discussion, and shared his research regarding the historical designation of the entire building in 2004. The County has drastically misquoted the Historical Designation Report on numerous occasions in an effort to be able to demolish more than 2/3 of a historically significant building; the County truly is a developer in every (bad) sense of the word.

Some of the more significant points that you missed are most likely because you did not have someone else’s work to “borrow” it from. Currently, Arquitectonica is being sued in more than a dozen lawsuits where the businesses that hired them have alleged that Arquitectonica breached its duty by defectively designing buildings and are in violation of the Florida Building Code by not meeting the minimum building requirements. An architecture firm hired by the County should have zero pending lawsuits; however, one or two lawsuits might be acceptable. But, more than twelve open lawsuits is preposterous and clearly Arquitectonica is more interested in collecting its fees than properly designing safe buildings.

Next, GableStage is a local non-profit group that has consistently struggled to fill a 150 seat theatre; but you still believe, without reason or fact, that now they can fill a 300 seat theatre. On the other hand you believe, again without reason or fact, that Eidson cannot put together a board and hire an artistic director that can make a 700-seat theatre work, even though he was influential in making the Miami City Ballet (“MCB”) and the Adrienne Arsht Center both successful. Mike Eidson also raised $90 million dollars for the MCB, while GablesStage brings zero funds to the Playhouse project. Let’s not forget that the MCB is in its 30th season and has 49 dancers and a repertoire of more than 100 ballets. MCB performs for nearly 100,000 patrons annually during its South Florida home season in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Naples, and tours to top theaters domestically and internationally. GablesStage, which is run by Joe Adler, is still trying to fill seats.

Hiring Joe Adler as the artistic director for the Playhouse is not a good idea. His works do not appeal to the general paying public and, as mentioned, he has trouble filling his 150-seat Coral Gables theatre. It’s no wonder that Adler’s choice of plays includes violence, rape, eating dead babies, child torture and defecation –he depends on controversy to fill seats – that’s not the business model that is going to make the Playhouse successful. Additionally, giving Adler a new “state-of-the-art" theatre is not going to make his plays any better than watching the Dolphins on a $5000 TV is going to help Miami win games. Joe Adler recounts a story about an audience member who once stopped him upon exiting a show. The theatergoer turned to the director and gasped, "My God, how can you do that? Why would you put that onstage? What are you going to do next, show people having sex and defecating?" Joe Adler's replied: "We did that last year." While free speech in the arts is important, producing plays at the Playhouse that will fill seats is the key to financial responsibility. Joe Adler and GalesStage is not the answer, its actually the beginning of another failed Playhouse. Meanwhile, MCB is filling seats, in part due to Mike Eidson.

Lastly, Mr. Terry, you finish up by stating, “I am confident that most knowledgeable Grove citizens support the 300 plan as well.” The reciprocal to your unsupported statement is that “only idiot Grove citizens will support Eidson’s 700 seat plan.” I find your statement to be not only offensive, but given your lack of knowledge of the facts concerning the Playhouse, I find it thoughtless and reckless and it’s something I would expect to hear from a developer. Perhaps we’ll have to portray you next year in the King Mango Strut Parade – how ironic.

Lowell J. Kuvin
Attorney for Barbara Lang and Katrina Morris
Coconut Grove Native

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19 Comments:

Blogger Virginia Grovite said...

I say we just blow it up and then none of us can argue about it any more... oh, then what would we have to hold onto since the noisy minority has effectively failed in every effort they have pursued to "keep Coconut Grove the way it has always been."

I want progress and would like to see a show in Coconut Grove in my lifetime... in a "closely resembling" playhouse to its original state.

Come on... 10+ years folks!?!?

I wish the citizens of Coconut Grove would put half the time, effort and noise into caring about the slum lord apartments along Grand Avenue as they have with this.....

January 05, 2018 3:59 PM  
Blogger Remeny said...

Here here, Lowell! Thank you!

January 05, 2018 4:18 PM  
Anonymous Don Riedel said...

This is a good example why we as a country can no longer get anything done. No one remembers how to compromise. We just oscillate form one extreme to the other. Doing anything with this building is better than looking at this rundown mess forever.

January 05, 2018 4:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TO THE EDITOR

If anyone wants to know what "knowledgeable" people think about the plans for the Coconut Grove Playhouse, ask the person who knows more about the Playhouse - and theater in general - than anyone else in Miami (including a self-important County bureaucrat and a neighborhood gadfly).

I’m referring to internationally renowned theatrical producer Zev Buffman, who once owned the Playhouse and used it to launch some of the most important theater productions to ever come out of Florida.

He recently wrote the following:

“I would vote for 700+ seats, a stage and a return to a similar house I left behind that had 1200 seats (after I added the Balcony with Alfred Browning Parker).

We cannot have that anymore, but you can do miracles with a 700+ seats in theatre form.”

I’m not going to take the time....or space in the Grove Grapevine.....to educate readers about Zev.

If you don’t know about Zev and want to know the details of his career and his credentials, go to:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zev_Buffman AND
https://www.broadwayworld.com/miami/article/Theatrical-Legend-ZEV-BUFFMAN-Appointed-President-CEO-Of-Ruth-Eckerd-Hall-20111020

January 05, 2018 4:33 PM  
Blogger reid prevatt said...

NOW LIKE IT OR NOT, THIS GUY HAS DONE HIS HOMEWORK. GO BL. ALWAYS WONDERED WHY SOME WANTED A BIGGER PLACE. NO FUN GOING TO EVENTS WHEN THE PLACE IS HALF FULL. OTHER THING BEING IS PARKING. NOBODY WANTS TO PARK IN GARAGE, BUT TERRA HAS ONE FOR YOU!!!

January 05, 2018 4:46 PM  
Blogger glo said...

This says it all!

January 05, 2018 5:18 PM  
Anonymous Carol Lopez-Bethel said...

Bravo Ms Kuvin for not letting that slip by, I read it with grave disappointment and allowed the holidays to distract me from a follow-up which would have paled in comparison to your on point reply.

It remains to be seen what will happen, but at least, it won't happen in the dark with so many eyes on this projact now.

January 05, 2018 6:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ouch babe

January 05, 2018 8:36 PM  
Anonymous Glenn Terry said...

I appreciate Lowell Kuvin taking the time to respond to my Grapevine letter expressing how difficult it has been replace or restore Grove Playhouse. Many well-meaning people, including Lowell, differ on how this should be done.

As time passes with no progress we grow weary. I'd probably be happy seeing a miniature golf course there. After eleven years anything seems better than nothing.

In his conclusion Mr. Kuvin suggest that I be honored with some sort of portrayal in the next King Mango Strut. That would be terrific. I have not been in the parade that I co-founded,in years. I hope Lowell will consider playing me riding a majestic horse.

I will supply his shining armor.

Glenn Terry

January 05, 2018 8:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Miami City Ballet and Arsht Center are not in great financial shape. But they are experts in keeping that info to themselves. I would not be using them to toot anyone’s horn.

January 05, 2018 9:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You looney grovite liberals Need to come to the realization that restoring the playhouse will do nothing for coconut grove. The only thing that can stay open for more than a year is a trendy restaurant or a retail giant that can afford the ridiculous rent... You people shut down legit facts and arguments and insult anybody that disagrees with you like children. No wonder the mango strutt parade censored you nut jobs. Stop being so selfish and think of your community over your interests you morally bankrupt, childish, economically illiterate stains on the 33133 zip code.

January 05, 2018 10:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Says who? Anonymous?

"Miami City Ballet and Arsht Center are not in great financial shape. But they are experts in keeping that info to themselves. I would not be using them to toot anyone’s horn."

January 05, 2018 11:17 PM  
Blogger Save the Coconut Grove Playhouse said...

More rumors. Tired of anonymous people spinning fiction out of fact. Like the liar Glenn Terry who libeled Mike Eidson and Ken Russell for giving/accepting bribes. You want to see real financial ruin? Look at GableStage financial records and how many bailouts they've had. They can't even fill 150 seats and we think they can fill 300 by a man who will be as old as the building and who stages plays with titles like "The Motherfucker With a Hat" and plays filled with soft porn and grotesque violence? Adler can't fill his seats and that's why Spring has failed for four years to submit Adler's updated financials.
There's nothing to compromise here. We didn't vote to spend $20 million to demolish the greatest cultural icon we have. The voters mandate says what to do therefore there's nothing to compromise. Glenn also mangled the facts about the 700 seat plan having the larger garage. The 300 seat plan has the bigger garage. Gee I wonder why? Could it be for Arquitectonica's hotel they're building across the street? And Glenn, why no mention of Eidson raising $90 million for the Miami City Ballet? And Michael Spring's inability to keep the Science Museum on time and within budget? Spring had to ask the taxpayers for $450 million to bailout the museum project---but that doesn't bother you. You overlook that and spin lies about Eidson's record of financial planning Spring is the reason this theater sits so long without anything being done. He's missed every deadline ordered by the state. He also was denied $500,000 from the state grant specifically because his plan demolishes the historic playhouse. Glenn should be sued for libel for accusing Eidson of bribing Russell. So you're right to give your shining armor to a man who's earned it. His name is Lowell Kuvin.

January 06, 2018 1:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why doesn't the City/County/FIU commission a feasibility study by an independent 3rd party, preferably from out of town. The Key question is what is the likely demand for what the playhouse can deliver. I think any of the big four Accounting firms or a half a dozen consulting firms would deliver opinions and recommendations based on research. We need a commitment from 80% of stakeholders to follow the recommendations, given that agreement, it would be a worthwhile investment.

January 06, 2018 10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which of those categories do you consider Sandbar....a "trendy restaurant or a retail giant"? Because they've been going strong for 18+ years now & I believe 18>1.

January 06, 2018 5:16 PM  
Blogger Save the Coconut Grove Playhouse said...

Were it not for UM being so close to the Grove with its college kids just looking for the nearest bar to get drunk, the Sandbar would look as vacant as the majority of the rest of the Grove. Can't rely on frat boys to support the Playhouse or much else in the community.

January 06, 2018 6:40 PM  
Blogger EZcome said...

In the 11 years the Coconut Grove Playhouse has been sitting vacant, it has deteriorated beyond and reasonable cost to restore- The salt water used to mix the structural concrete has corroded the reinforcing steel, and mildew & moisture intrusion has turned it into a fungus palace! We might recall the reason the Grand Bay Hotel was demolished was because the buyers allowed the climate control systems to languish and it also turned into a five star fungus palace!

Whether a theatre of any size is feasible in the Grove is not the issue but rather, we need to know, is it financially feasible to restore this decrepit building and when all that money has been spent, can it attract successful theatre companies and their audiances, to have any hope of supporting the debt from a facility that has has spotty success at best in the last and a new parking garage.

I'm not very optimistic based on what I know about design, renovations, construction and the theatre business and hope those responsible for the final decisions in this matter will carefully consider my input- Thanks and good luck- It will be needed!

January 06, 2018 7:16 PM  
Blogger L Kuv said...

EZcome - the structural engineer's report shows that the Playhouse is actually in very good shape, including the concrete. I had the opportunity to tour the Playhouse a few months ago, and the only structural damage is a breach of the roof in the front portion of the building - where the offices are. There are many inspection holes that were drilled to take core samples of the concrete and holes made in the drywall to inspect the walls. They don't build a building today like they use to. I'd be glad to share the report with whoever would like to review it.

January 06, 2018 7:58 PM  
Anonymous j.marshall.stewart@outlook.com said...

Hi L Kuv, I'd love to see the report - are there any photos? I'll leave my email in the name line.

January 06, 2018 10:49 PM  

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