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Saturday, December 03, 2016

County releases plans for "new" Grove Playhouse

The Miami-Dade County Dept. of Cultural Affairs sent out "Background Materials" related to the Coconut Grove Playhouse and the upcoming meeting next week. And just as I always suspected, the façade of the playhouse will be saved in the plans for what they call "renovation" and the rest will be knocked down. 

The county calls it a "transformation of this local icon," but to be honest, they let it deteriorate for over 10 years, letting termites and weather do all the work of demolition by neglect. It was never looked after or taken care of and until a friend set up something in the middle of the night a few years back to have portions painted to protect it, it was just left to rot. If any of us would have let our property go like this, we would have been fined. But the city and county ignored it.

In 2004, citizens voted to save the Playhouse and $20 million in taxes was put aside to restore the structure. But only the façade will be saved.

From the "background materials" sent out: 

"The plan for the renewed theater takes into account both the historic and cultural significance of the site by saving the most architecturally significant parts of the Playhouse, the iconic corner building and its ornate façade wrapping around Main Highway and Charles Avenue. The original design intent will be restored by having retail once again engage the street.The plan maintains the original diagonal axis, along which a new twenty-first century theater will be positioned. A crescent shaped outdoor space, reminiscent of the original lobby space, will create the transition between old and new and serve as a community gathering space even when no events are taking place in the theater. The new theater will include the front-of-house and back-of-house spaces and amenities that contemporary users and audiences expect and demand. 

"A parking garage is proposed for the north side of the site where surface parking currently exists. The garage will serve the needs of theater as well as nearby merchants and the Grove community."

The garage seems to be for 500 cars and will sit on the parking lot space that is currently there next to the theater facing Main Highway. There will be retail on the first floor of the garage. And hidden in the plans are 35 residential units that will be part of the new structure. They are 1/1 and 2/2 condos. That was never a doubt in my mind, you can never just have something done to please the public, there always has to be some sort of back end, money-making scheme involved. 

It goes on: "The County’s contract for architectural and engineering work includes a master plan for a two theater scheme: the funded 300-seat theater for GableStage; and a second 700-seat theater which is unfunded."

Joseph Adler, Producing Artistic Director of GableStage, is the theater company that will operate and program the new 300 seat theater. The 700 seat theater is a whole different animal and will have (if ever built) it's own director.

This whole process can take up to three years including a year and a half just for architectural designs. 


The bottom line is that the façade will be saved, the wrap around of the building's front, so as you enter the village, you'll see the playhouse as it was. You can clearly see that part in the photo above. The plan is to bring it back to it's original 1927 look. Behind it, the interior will be all new and state-of-the-art as they say. That's the huge auditorium part in the back. And to the right of the building, in the photo, is the surface parking lot now, which will be the new garage. The residential units will be part of the mix in there somewhere. From a diagram I saw, it appears as if they will be on either side of the garage.

Many who worked there are not pleased with the plans, they want the whole structure saved. Others feel that making it a modern theater is the answer, but I've been to quite a few plays up north, and the theaters are all the original theaters, many from the turn of the century. They are restored and renovated, but the look feel and essence are still there. 
Sort of like the Guzman Theater in downtown Miami.

I recently saw Melissa Etheridge perform in an old original theater in South Hampton, Long Island; and Jesse Tyler Ferguson in a play in the Lyceum Theatre in NYC. The theater was part of the charm. The Lyceum is the oldest continuously operating legitimate theater in NYC. Opened in 1903 and still going, it has landmark status. 

There are those who want a new theater, there are those who want the original theater and there are those who just want something open and running.


Here are the background materials and links there to other reports and proposed plans that you will find of interest, including renderings and drawings.


Town Meeting: Update on the Coconut Grove Playhouse
Thursday, December 8
6:00 pm to 8:30 pm
Ransom Everglades Auditorium, 3575 Main Highway.

RSVP here

On a side note, I found these interesting articles, that maybe the County should read:
10 Steps for Restoring Historic Theaters.

and this: Theater Preservation Guidance.
and: What it takes to restore a 1929 Brooklyn 'Wonder Theater'

Anyway, I'm picturing that scene in Frankenstein where the townspeople chase him with pitchforks and fire. I'm seeing this sort of thing happening at next week's meeting at Ransom.

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Be a part of 33 Kitchen's one year anniversary

33 Kitchen is celebrating their one year anniversary with a special dinner.
It's been a fantastic year for them, with great food reviews from food critics and customers. They've received a lot of press and great social media boasts.


The have been selected "Best Peruvian restaurant" by the New Times in the Best of Miami issue and their Chef and owner, Sebastian Fernandez (shown here), soon will participate at the Sobe Food & Wine Festival as one of the 60 best Chefs in America. 

The Six Course Dinner is Friday, December 9, at 7 pm. It will be by reservation only by emailing: DinnerThirtyThree@yahoo.com or calling 786-899-0336.

The special menu:

- Tuna tartar yuzu, cucumbers, green apple, rice cracker -Conchitas a la parmesana Seared Scallops, white wine, parm cheese.
- Causa Limena potatoes, avocado, tuna, ají amarillo sauce.
-Sudado de corvina Pan roasted corvina, Peruvian style red onions and yellow chili sauce.
-Seco de cordero Lamb chop, cilantro and Peruvian chicha sauce, smashed potatoes 
- Tres Leches with fresh berries 

Cost: $66 per person
Complimentary Glass of Cava.

33 Kitchen is at 3195 Commodore Plaza.


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Friday, December 02, 2016

No truer words . . .


Saw this on social media today. It's a New Yorker cartoon by Liam Francis Walsh.

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FAM Night - Fashion + Art + Music, is Saturday

Hope you'll stop by the Grove tree lighting at CocoWalk on Saturday night (8 pm), and stick around for FAM Night, when Fashion + Art + Music collide for a fun nigh tall around the Village.

Stroll the streets, see what you find. Who needs Art Basel when you have the Grove?

Urban Art Intensity is featured at KROMA Gallery (3670 Grand Avenue), take the free trolley down there from 6 to 9 pm and check out the African American works on paper from David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland. 


A piece by Mr. Brainwash.
Not to be left out, enjoy live music and a pop-up jewelry artist at Condom USA. Enjoy discounts up to 20% off during FAM Night. They are next to the Sandbar at 3066 Grand Avenue. From 6 to 9 pm.

A Pop Art Exhbit takes place at Frameworks (3796 Commodore Plaza) from 6 to 9 pm. Featured are Mr. Brainwash, Banksy, Haring, Indiana, Lichtenstein, Frankenthaler, Dine, Wesselmann and more. This is my kind of show.

The Armando Colls show is at the Sonesta Hotel (2889 McFarlane Road). Enjoy champagne and nibbly things in the lobby, which is turned into an elegant gallery. Native Floridian, Armando is a landscape and still life photographer. 


Our pals at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival Gallery are offering a showing by R.C. Bailey (as opposed to R.C. Cola), Bailey a Florida resident for over 40 years is a self described, "Turn-of-the-Century Post-Raphaelite artist." If you see his work, left, you'll know what he means.

Also, if you just stroll around you'll find musicians playing all over the place. The Drum Circle is at the entrance to The Barnacle from 6 to 10 pm. 

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Thursday, December 01, 2016

Join Saturday's free historic bicycle tour of the Grove

The Coconut Grove Historic Bicyle Tour is Saturday, December 3. It's a free event, everyone is welcome.

Meet in front of City Hall at 9:30 am (3500 Pan American Drive), the ride goes until 12:30 pm.

Bike the central district of Coconut Grove, among the most historic locations in Southeast Florida. The first stop will be the waterfront at Peacock Park, the original "Jack's Bight." Hear the tales of lighthouse keepers, war and peace with the Seminoles, hardy mariners and isolated homesteaders. Cruise down to The Barnacle, home of distinguished resident, photographer and sailboat designer Commodore Ralph Munroe. 

Then take a look at the dynamic neighborhoods just north of the Grove's business district. Among diminutive early-century cottages and grand Conch-style homes, view Modern Tropical, Arquitectonica, and many other recent architectural styles.

To sign up for the tour contact: Frank W. Schena Royal Palm Tours Of Miami 786-346-3356 or frank@royalpalmtoursofmiami.com

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Don't miss the Coconut Grove Tree Lighting

It's December, so it's time to think about the Coconut Grove tree lighting! The 4th annual Tree Lighting takes place at CocoWalk on Saturday, December 3, at 8 pm, but before then, visit CocoVillage, located at Virginia Street and Grand Avenue which will be open from 3:00 to 9 pm. Virginia Street will be closed off. Explore the holiday village created by local school children from Coconut Grove Elementary, Carver Elementary, St. Alban’s Enrichment Center in Coconut Grove, St. Alban’s Enrichment Center in South Miami, Frances S. Tucker Elementary and local businesses. The holiday village houses were made possible by Shell Lumber. It's reminiscent of the holiday houses we used to have during Snow Days.

The whole day is fun for the entire family with music, face painting, holiday decorations, and more. Enjoy sweet treats and hot cocoa provided by The Mayfair Hotel as you shop the holiday marketplace. After visiting CocoVillage head next door for photos with Santa Claus at CocoWalk. 

Donations of children’s toys will be collected onsite at the CocoVillage for St. Alban’s Child Enrollment Center.

The tree lighting will be officiated by Commissioner Ken Russell whose office sponsored the event with the Coconut Grove BID and CocoWalk.

The same night is FAM Night - Fashion + Art + Music - where the Grove is full of all this fun stuff you'll find as you wander around!



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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I like what I'm seeing

You know what I like? If you scroll down, the last four stories were about Coconut Grove history. Not designed to be published one right after the other, but I find it interesting that this is what happened to come up in the news these past couple of days.

The Stirrup House, The Barnacle's anniversary, the Coconut Grove Playhouse update and Vizcaya lost spaces. People appreciate all four of these places and I know there will be a lot of people at these upcoming events.

Now if we could just save some more history around here. 

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Turning a pioneer's house into a B&B

The EWF Stirrup House at 3242 Charles Avenue was built in 1897, it is one of the oldest houses in Coconut Grove. The Barnacle  was built in 1891. And the Mariah Brown house, a few houses up from the Stirrup House, was built in 1890.

Ebenezer Woodbury Franklin Stirrup, a Bahamian immigrant who settled in the Grove, built the two story house, shown here as it was for over 100 years, before renovations started. Mr. Stirrup ended up being one of the largest land owners in the Grove. Stirrup lived in the house until his death in 1957, at the age of 84. It remained in the hands of the Stirrup family all these years. 


The Stirrup House is now in the process of becoming a B&B.  At the other end of Charles Street is The Charlotte Jane Memorial Park Cemetery, named for the love of Ebenezer Stirrup's life. It's a very historic street with most if not all of the houses built by Stirrup to house fellow Bahamians who settled here. That is Mr. Stirrup at left.

Peter Gardner, of Sabal Hill LLC, involved with the renovation, answered a few questions for me regarding the job.

TOM: When do you think the job will be complete?  
PETER: April 30, 2017

TOM:
How many rooms for guests?    
PETER: 5

TOM: Is it an exact replica of the original house?  
PETER: Yes

TOM: What will the name of the Inn be?   
PETER: Not decided yet

TOM: Is it connected to the other restaurants, Spasso, Taurus, etc.  
PETER: No, we are currently working on food and beverage options for the inn.

TOM: What is the cost of renovation?   
PETER: In excess of $1 million

TOM: It appears as if the house was almost knocked down and then rebuilt, why was this? Couldn't anything be saved?  
PETER: Very little could be saved due to termites, etc.

TOM: What type of wood is being used? Florida Pine?
PETER: Florida Pine and Cedar outside


TOM: Does the house have historic designation?   
PETER: Yes – City of Miami

TOM: Have you seen the Mariah Brown house up the street?
PETER: Yes  


TOM: Any thoughts on that?   
PETER: No







This is the Mariah Brown house, just up the street. She came to the Grove from the Bahamas in 1899 by way of Key West. Mariah worked at the Peacock Inn, which was in Peacock Park, back, behind where Glass & Vine is now. This house was constructed in 1890.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Barnacle celebrating 125th anniversary on Sunday

The Barnacle is celebrating the 125th anniversary of the historic state house on Sunday, December 4 from 11 am to 4 pm. The Birthday ceremony is at 1:25 pm.

Admission to the park is free, the public is invited. There will be prizes, kids crafts and live music. Bring a picnic or buy lunch from the grill - burgers and hot dogs, $1.25 ea.

The Barnacle is located at 3485 Main Highway.

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Meeting to update residents about Playhouse

The Miami-Dade County Dept. of Cultural Affairs is holding a Town Meeting regarding the Coconut Grove Playhouse. It's an update on the status.

The meeting is Thursday, December 8 from 6 to 8 pm at the Ransom Everglades Auditorium (3575 Main Highway).

Parking is available first come, first served. 

RSVP here.

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Visit lost spaces at Vizcaya

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens hosts the opening reception for the second phase of Lost Spaces and Stories of Vizcaya, a two-part centennial exhibition celebrating the estate's history through contemporary art.

The event is Tuesday, November 29 from 7 to 10 pm. Tickets are $10 for General Admission, FREE for Vizcaya Members and can be purchased online as well as at the door.

This second installation of Lost Spaces features local artists creating works in four areas related to Vizcaya's gardens and leisure spaces: the Casba, South Property, the Casino, and Basement Recreational Rooms. Like Phase I, these projects highlight elements of Vizcaya that no longer exist or are inaccessible to the public. 

The Casba is a small, exotic pavilion that was originally part of Vizcaya's southern gardens and is now on the grounds of the Archdiocese of Miami. Leyden Rodriguez Casanova's piece will create an architectural reference to the Casba that appears as either unfinished or deconstructed, depending on the viewer's perspective. 

Mira Lehr and Yara Travieso's installation will personify Vizcaya as Queen Dido, the first queen of Carthage according to ancient Greek and Roman writers. Their work will be activated through performances, and evoke the exotic wildlife that once existed on the South Property. Kerry Phillips will create an installation for the winding white marble staircase in the Shop and Café area that once served as quick access for Deering and his guests from the East Loggia to the recreational rooms. The project will consist of found furniture installed with a sense of movement suggesting that the pieces are rushing down the stairs. 

Brookhart Jonquil is developing a piece for the two rooms in the Casino on the Garden Mound. This piece will focus on the original fixtures in the rooms, while using architecture and light as a bridge between the physical and immaterial. His work will also speculatively reference the daily activities that might have taken place in those spaces. 

Tickets are $10 each and may be purchased here.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is at 3251 S Miami Avenue.

For more information, please visit www.vizcaya.org or call 305-250-9188.

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Come to the Strut meeting, bring your ideas

King Mango Strut is having it's next "disorganizational" meeting November 29, at Berries in the Grove, 2884 SW 27 Avenue, at 7 pm.

Anyone wishing to join the mango mayhem is more than welcome.  The line-up has room for plenty more strutters, so don't hesitate to get involved.

The big parade is 2 pm, on December 31.

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Transportation brainstorming event

The Grove 2030 Transportation Group will meet on Satursay, Dec. 3, from 9-11 am for a creative brainstorming session.

The meeting is at The Bookstore in the Grove, 3390 Mary Street. Coffee and bagels provided courtesy of Grove 2030.

In past meetings we’ve learned about currently planned projects that are important to achieving the goal of a Coconut Grove that will be more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, with less speeding and cut-through traffic. At the meeting, they'll provide updates on those projects (South Bayshore Dr. reconfiguration, Main Highway improvements, reduced speed limits citywide, and the proposed new traffic circle at 32nd Avenue and Day).

Now your input is needed for new ideas that we as involved Grove residents can start to develop and move forward.

They will provide a list of possible projects and ideas as “brainstorm starters,” but they really need to hear from you and engage your creativity. That's what it will take to meet the Grove 2030 transportation goals:

By 2030… 

A pedestrian- and bike-friendly pathway will safely link all Coconut Grove residents to each other, the commercial/retail sector, parks and public spaces and other community assets. 

Through the promotion and implementation of public and other alternative modes of transportation, automobile traffic in Coconut Grove will decrease by 40%.

Every street and intersection of Coconut Grove will safely accommodate  pedestrians, cyclists and users of other alternative modes of transportation.

Please let them know if you’ll be able to attend. So they can get an accurate idea of the number of attendees please register here.

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Preserving history

Was just watching the news in New York City, The city's Landmarks Preservation Commission acted to preserve 11 buildings before a planned rezoning of a 78-block area takes effect. The area is around Grand Central Terminal. Right next door to Grand Central, on 42nd Street, a huge tower is ready to go up, which many people are not happy about. 

As expected, the local realtors are not happy and claim this will affect mass transit funding in some way. 

The non-stop building in New York is getting out of hand, especially since so many buildings have small footprints that rise all the way up into the sky, ruining the aesthetics of the skyline.

But at least buildings are being saved in this race to knock down and rebuild. The buildings that are preserved now can have changes, but they need to meet the area and building's own aesthetics.

That's what we need more of in Miami-Dade, not just Coconut Grove, but the whole county.

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

New Coconut Grove trolley route

This is the new Coconut Grove trolley proposed route. It needs County approval, but it's scheduled to start in January.

You'll notice it connects to Brickell and Coral Gables.

If you click on the image, it will open larger.

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Friday, November 25, 2016

Shop small Grove businesses this Saturday

Shop Small - Small Business Saturday is this Saturday, November 26. It is a nationwide movement to celebrate small businesses every day and to help communities thrive. It's practically made for Coconut Grove. On this day, consumers vow to shop at small businesses rather than chain stores. 

Created by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday is the cornerstone of American Express Shop Small efforts. "While Small Business Saturday is highlighted as a special day when we can show our support as a nation for small business owners and our communities, the Shop Small Movement is a year-round campaign to celebrate and support small businesses every day."

You can share the cool items you may find on social media using the hashtag #ShopSmall . 

Even if you would prefer the mall for the bulk of your holiday shopping, it's a great idea to support our small businesses in the neighborhood. Spread the wealth.

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Grove 2030 to review, revamp NCDs

Many thanks to the Grapevine for sharing with readers the highlights of the recent Grove 2030 Governance Forum. The event, moderated by former county commissioner Katy Sorenson, featured a panel of speakers offering suggestions on how our community might achieve this goal: By 2030 Coconut Grove will govern its own municipal affairs. Roughly 100 people attended.

To some, the key takeaway may have been the improbability – in the short term, at least -- of Coconut Grove’s municipal independence. The process of de-annexation from the City of Miami is purposely Byzantine, and politically untenable. Thus, to many others in attendance the event’s real highlight was the awareness that Coconut Grove can indeed achieve a measure of “self governance” by working within the City’s existing legislative framework. Our panelists expounded the benefits of Historic Districts, Historic Corridors, Special Taxing Districts, Neighborhood Improvement Districts, and other administrative approaches, or “pathways,” to community-level governance.

One such pathway rests in Coconut Grove’s Neighborhood Conservation District (NCD) zoning overlays adopted in 2008. We’re lucky to have them. Veterans of Grove secession campaigns (there’s been plenty since our annexation in 1925) say the NCDs were something of a olive branch – a City effort to mollify the independence minded Grovites by extending an added layer of protection from the development pressures that threaten village character.

Whatever the intent, the NCDs offer us a powerful tool to chart our own path forward. To hear it from former City officials, the NCDs were drafted as templates upon which to expand. They are not static, unbending. So what kind of additions, modifications or clarifications would you like to see in Coconut Grove’s Neighborhoods Conservation District zoning overlays?  Let us know. Grove 2030, along with the Coconut Grove Village Council, has convened an NCD Working Group to present recommendations for a stronger, more protective, and more civically empowering document.  

The end product, of course, will be our recommendations and nothing more. To approve them, making them law, our elected officials must give their blessing. And if they become law, they must be enforced – something the City has routinely failed to do. Is there another way? Email us your ideas at info@grove2030.org.

Regards,
Dave Villano
Grove 2030

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!


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