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Friday, September 07, 2018

We've been overtaken by opportunists

Jack King wrote an excellent column in Biscayne Times about the Grove and the opportunists that pass through. I had this conversation with Jack in person about a week ago. 

Jack was telling me that these opportunists have come to the Grove for years and tried to remake it and make their fortunes in the process and they end up losing in the end. Jack talks about office buildings, but add all the over-sized condos to that, as well. 

But we end up losing in the end, too, because we are stuck with their crap after they go broke.

They are here now to fix the Grove. The Grove does not need to be fixed. Coconut Grove is a small village, not downtown or Brickell, which is what it is becoming.

These developers come in, destroy the village and leave. So many business owners and locals tell me privately how much they despise these developers and how they know they are using us to line their own pockets and spitting us out in the process. When they are done here they 'll move on to the next neighborhood.

Jack says in the article, "First, I didn’t know we needed to be saved. And second, I never knew that an office building could save anyone." It's true, I'm not sure who is benefiting from the office buildings, I did a story not long ago that admits that the office workers are not spending money in the Grove, so other than the developers and landlords of these buildings, who is benefiting? And taking away a garage to make it an office building benefits who? That ended up being the biggest sham and I hear they already have their eyes on the new garage near Regatta Park and it's not even built yet.

The locals have to deal with more traffic and total chaos every day. There is not one street that is not affected, you cannot drive from here to there these days without some sort of detour or traffic delay.


People have asked about the old Johnny Rockets building. Well, they need to close a lane of traffic for some reason in order to complete the renovation. But CocoWalk has a traffic lane blocked across the street on Virginia Street, so the Johnny Rockets building renovation is on hold so that another lane of traffic is not closed. Thank goodness for small favors.

I understand CocoWalk's reasoning with the office building - retail is dead, we live in an Amazon world now and their concept of shopping is not going to work these days. Once someone suggested turning all of CocoWalk into a type of Eately. That might have worked. The office building, who knows? Other than more people and traffic, other than CocoWalk itself, who is it benefiting? The village isn't.

That office building going up near the Playhouse is an ironic thing because if the Playhouse was open, the two restaurants that were in that location would be thriving and an office building would not have been built in their location. And just yesterday we learned about the Playhouse possibly going up for sale. Can you imagine developers getting hands on that property?


And all those over-sized, over-price condos are not being built for the locals. They aren't housing for the poor. Their only purpose is to line the pockets of the developers who will be off and onto their next speculation once they have destroyed our village.

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12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Before U respond to this read Google "What role do artist play in gentrification". Anyone who bemoans the loss of "The Old Grove" are responsible for the gentrification of present day Coconut Grove, but read the article above before U open your mouth to change your feet. You should have done something way back when this process began. Developers follow artist, after the artist move in, hippies if you will. The artist/hippies create a much desirable village environment by usually settling into a mixed race community where housing & rent are cheap. And from the North Pole to S. Pole, in every country since recorded history. In come the developers, high rents and gentrification reverses it all. Money is made available by local government, grants, favorable bank loans as the community sits by idle unaware of history. Hell, I'm one of the artist who stayed displaying my art rather than sell my property at 15 times what I paid, got a $506.000.00 lien on my home, filed a suit in federal court and won. I don't remember anyone living in the Grove helping me! Jobie Steppe

September 07, 2018 8:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Without the developers putting their money into the Grove what would it become? Please tell me what exactly are you trying to hold onto? What is nice about the block of building along Grand Ave and Main Highway from McFarlane to Fuller that house the Tavern/Watch Store/Maya Hut/etc. They are architectural eye-sores. If developers didn't step in and renovate the other buildings and put money into the Grove to revitalize it you wouldn't have a Books and Books, Panther Coffee, Present Bakery or any of the other restaurants/bakeries/etc. You bemoan the lack of parking, but a true Village doesn't need parking as the people the occupy a 'village' can walk/bike into the downtown. It seems you just want to complain about the developers making money but if they didn't do their job then what would your precious village be today - a village with run down buildings, empty storefronts, a ghost town at night, but at least their would be plenty of parking - since no one would want to visit.

Sarah.

September 07, 2018 9:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That new chicken coop hotel on Mcfarlane and the office building on Main Highway next to Greenstreet Cafe and the multi story motel going up in the little parking space next to Greenstreet on Commodore Plaza are abominable eyesores. Main Highway and Commodore Plaza should be designated historic.

September 07, 2018 9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to say it but I told you this would happen.im so glad I got out before this mess happened.and it's going to get alot worse get ready

September 07, 2018 9:55 AM  
Blogger Grapevine said...

Sarah, did you even read the article? SMH.

And Anonymous 9:55. You told us this was going to happen? Who the hell are you? You told us? When? What? Again, who are you?

September 07, 2018 10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greed is what is killing the Grove. Developers come in, buy the property for an outrageous amount, raise the rent to unaffordable prices, to cover the poor decisions they have made, and pushing out the Mom/Pop businesses, just to make a profit not caring who they Destroy in their wake of greed. Developing the Grove into a second Brickell is not goin to bring people to the Grove... tearing down the old and building the new is not what the Grove is about, it’s about the little people with great concepts and ideas that cater to the locals for what they want and need, those are the shops that bring in the foot traffic, not new paint on a building or new awnings. Most don’t care about walking in the Grove now- what, to walk in a triangle and look at restaurants!! We don’t need or even want the big corporate companies in this village, that’s exactly why it’s been the quiet little hidden village it’s been for 50+ years. People would not fall in love with it if it wasn’t so fricken cool. And that cool factor is being cashed in for, well, mo money mo money mo money!!!!

September 07, 2018 10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom .. I did read the article and just like you and the rest of the anti-development people that read this blog .. it is full of complaints about the changes that are occurring in the Grove but offers no alternative solutions. Please tell me what would happen if Developers decided not to put their money into the Grove. Please tell me what is your vision of the Grove san developers and their willingness to renovate the older buildings and put up new ones. Cocowalk was a three story ghost town with only the Gap and Victoria Secret pulling in customers. If it was so successful why would major tenants like CheeseCake pull out. The site where the new office building on Main Highway is being built was one failed restaurant after another and was standing vacant for 2-3 years. The site where the new hotel is being built on Commodore was a surface parking lot and the site where the new building is slated to be built on Grand across from the CVS was an old dilapidated gas station. The Engle Building that now houses Harry's, Books & Books, Buro, etc. was mold infested and falling apart with empty storefronts along the bottom .. you even ran a piece about that. Do you think Harry's, Books & Books, Panther, etc. would have moved in without the new owners renovating the building? Everyone cries about the Mom and Pops stores leaving the Grove but please let's be truthful .. how many people actually shopped for another turquoise bracelet in those stores. Mom and Pops stores are cute for the tourists but the residents don't shop in them. I understand that people don't like the concept of the developer remaking your precious memories but what is a realistic alternative? Please stop complaining about the changes and offer up a different solution.

Sarah.

September 07, 2018 10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The word developer is really an oxymoron in the context of Coconut Grove's as the oldest neighborhood in Miami. Speculator is more apt.

September 07, 2018 11:24 AM  
Blogger Grapevine said...

Sarah, This article is about over-sized condos and office building. Not about the renovation of what is already here.

I have never been against CocoWalk's renovation or the Engle Building or any of the smaller condos going in around the village that are taking the place of the same size buildings they are replacing. I wrote about the Engle building more than once saying that this is how all of the property owners should treat their properties. I wrote about the great mixture of businesses and how nice it was renovated.

I never said a negative word against CocoWalk because I understand with the state of retail these days I can see they had to do something.

I am not against renovation or getting rid of mold or cleaning up the place. So stop putting words in my mouth.

What would be nice? I think if the rents were lower and the property owners worked with the businesses, the Grove would be a sweet little village like it had been for over 100 years. If people could afford the rents, then the village would be just fine.

Apple came to look at the Grove a few years ago and they thought the rents were too high so they never came in. Apple! The TRILLION DOLLAR company refused to pay the the Grove's high rents.

Most of us want to live in a village. Not a high rise canyon.

You know, many years ago, The Barnacle and that whole side of the street along the water was in danger of becoming high rises, but thanks to Arva Moore Parks and Bob Graham, that didn't happen. We really don't want that to happen today.

September 07, 2018 11:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is taking place in the Grove is universal human nature throughout the planet, in all countries and affects hundreds and hundreds of communities. In communities where the people have the knowledge, education, foresight, willpower and desire to nip the head off this gentrification bug as it rears its ugly head this does not happen. Years ago failure to act cleared the way for the developers. What was missing was a lack of "CONCEPT OF FUTURE". The Grove is now the direct result of a failure to act in the past. Opportunity filled a vacuum. Jobie Steppe

September 07, 2018 1:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed on that one with Jobie and to add to his explanation human beings believe they are doing good but the selfish spirit completely prevents us to underatand ourselves and our actions. We believe our every action leads to progress even when they are immoral for the sake of progress, the results are very often destructive and counters long term survival. I think only an objective assessment of our actions can be made by an inteligent alien being.

September 07, 2018 5:08 PM  
Blogger lorid said...

Well said Tom

September 07, 2018 6:15 PM  

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