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Thursday, December 13, 2018

County wins court appeal on Grove Playhouse

County's concept of the Playhouse.

On December 10, 2018, a three-judge panel of the Circuit Court Appellate Division ruled in favor of Miami-Dade County in a case regarding the historic preservation approval granted to the County to rehabilitate the Coconut Grove Playhouse.  In April 2017, the City of Miami’s Historic and Environmental Preservation Board had approved the County’s conceptual design for the Playhouse rehabilitation project. Two City residents appealed that decision, and in December 2017, the City of Miami Commission reversed the historic preservation approval. The County thereafter appealed the City Commission’s decision to court.

It was almost a foregone conclusion that this would happen, after it was reported that The Knight Foundation awarded $2 million to the county last week, to be used to complete the Coconut Grove Playhouse project. They would not have awarded the money unless someone somewhere knew that the county would win this case.

The Court’s decision, which can be read here, accepted all of the County’s arguments, finding that the City’s decision was incorrect and that the conditions imposed on the County were not consistent with the governing historic designation and applicable law.  In particular, the Court reversed the City Commission’s condition that the shell of the existing Playhouse auditorium be saved, as the City’s own historic designation report had concluded that only the historic front building retains historic architectural integrity.

This ruling is an important step towards final approval of  the County’s project as designed: the complete restoration of the 1927 historic front building on Main Highway; the creation of a new 300-seat, state-of-the art theater, incorporating the remaining historic elements of the original theater and operated by GableStage; development of a parking garage on the site of the existing surface parking lot; and a site plan that features plazas, a promenade connecting the West Grove to downtown Coconut Grove, lush landscaping and a pocket park facing the residential neighborhood.

The project remains on track to go out for construction bids in 2019.

Please note that all earlier updates remain available on this web site and contain more details about the project and its progress. To view a comprehensive list of all the previous updates visit: http://miamidadearts.org/coconut-grove-playhouse-updates.

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