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Sunday, May 06, 2018

Marketplace will determine fate of Village West

I applaud the efforts of those wishing to save the Bahamian community and heritage of Coconut Grove’s Village West. This is indeed a noble mission, that many have attempted in various communities, and few have succeeded. There are indeed great concerns for increased density of lots and gentrification. Like many of you, I too have attended meetings pertaining to saving wood-frame houses, as well as discussions regarding the possible advantages of establishing an NCD Overlay and expanding the Omni CRA.  

These  noble efforts remind me a bit of the Little Dutch Boy trying to halt back the overwhelming flood that is pouring through the leaky dike. Many years ago the City of Miami changed the single-family residential zoning in Center Grove and Village West to multi-family. That desire to raise more property taxes by increasing density have set in motion the forces that are being unleashed at this time. 

The marketplace and desire for new housing will determine the fate of Village West. Few if any wood-frame home owners will agree to historic designation, since they do not wish to forgo the opportunity to sell their property for the big bucks to a developer that will greatly profit by building multiple units.  After all Miami does not respect zoning, like that of Coral Gables McFarlane Homestead just next next door to Village West. 

Miami seems to care more about pleasing developers who fund their commissioners reelection’s and increasing property taxes. Perhaps the best solution might be to just accept the realities of the situation that big change is arriving no matter what. That gentrification, higher rents, displacement of many locales, demolition of wood-frame houses is just inevitable. 

So let’s just do our best to deal with this. Let’s save a few of the wood-frame houses, buy them up or locate grants to restore them. Make them pristine like the Painted Ladies of San Francisco. Turn them into colorful attractions like the South Beach Art Deco Hotels. Rout the tour buses by them and let the tourists discover a bit of the Village West Bahamian history, before  it’s just a memory.

Harry E. Gottlieb
Coconut Grove

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finally someone putting their money where their mouth is! For months people have been using this forum and others to rail "save the West Grove" but not doing anything about it. Although I believe most of these supports have good intentions, their battle cry comes off as extremely sanctimonious and paternalistic. Most people that want to stop development in the WG do not represent the opinions of the people in the WG -- I bet most do not even know and have not spoken to a single person in that community -- but seem to want to act as "the great white savior" to feel good about themselves. Meanwhile, people in the WG are welcoming the opportunity to cash in on their extremely valuable assets and gladly sell off to developers, yielding the largest sum of cash that they and their families will likely ever see - funds that can pay for future generations education and set them up for success. Although I disagree with these "saviors'" sanctimonious paternalistic attitude, I applaud this author for proposing to not just talk the talk, but to also walk the walk. Let's see if he can execute.

May 06, 2018 6:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The letter to the Editor, as well as the only response provides no plan of action other than what will be will be. Really, thank U.

May 06, 2018 11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, and many of us in them West grove who are actual property owners and have cared for our wooden homes should not be punished by the late arrival of well intentioned people who do not understand that designating these structures Historic would send their value back 20 years. Another issue they fail to understand is that these homes are not easy to maintain and can be in complete conflict with the desire of having a thriving tree canopy around them, as falling leaves coupled with our humidity levels promote wood rot.
The process of Historic designation in the West Grove should end, and forgotten. As some owners may want assistance preserving their shotgun cottage, they should perhaps be allowed to apply for historic designation and awarded all the benefits Mr. Russell has promised.

May 06, 2018 12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harry, Sometimes in face of an adversary with zero empathy, unlike the little Dutch boy one has to use a different finger.

May 06, 2018 12:22 PM  
Anonymous Sonya said...

If the county thinks these homes are historic and worth preserving, let them pony up and buy at market rate, rather than direct citizens what to do with their private property. Three contiguous homes, like those on Grand, would make an excellent walk-thru museum. If it can be done with Paul Revere's house, why not here?

May 06, 2018 6:11 PM  
Blogger reid prevatt said...

While these shacks cannot command the respect of Paul Revere at least you said your name. Historic preservation means, (you is not going to get as much as you could) I would like to see the Black leaders of west grove have more of an impact on what goes on. I am not seeing it.

May 06, 2018 9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No matter how much I try to understand the reason for designating these wooden homes as historic, I can’t. It makes no sense. There are now about 60 of them on the historic hit list! What exactly do they wish to preserve? What part of the grove’s history?

May 09, 2018 3:53 PM  

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