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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Preserving the whole Playhouse, not just part of it

A lot of people are questioning the County's plan for the "new" Coconut Grove Playhouse. I use the word "new" because that is what it is. In 2004, voters approved a bond issue of $20.5 million which would go to the renovation of the Playhouse building. I don't think voters would have approved the bond if they had known it would have meant knocking down most of the structure. People had hoped the money would save and repair the Playhouse.

The garage next door and the condo which is part of that structure and the office building(s) next do that, will make a wall of buildings on Main Highway. It seems as if the Playhouse renovation is an open call for development and residents are not happy.

As you know, two fellow Govites, Barbara Lange and Katrina Morris filed an appeal regarding the HEP Board's recent decision to allow the current plan to move forward. We posted the story first on Friday night, you can see it here. I asked the ladies about that.


I asked Barbara why they filed the appeal, "Katrina, like me, cares about preserving the uniqueness that is Coconut Grove. Whether it be a historic building such as the Playhouse, the tree canopy, or the large lots - they are all what makes Coconut Grove so special," Barbara said.

Regarding the Playhouse she says, According to experts, the interior of the Playhouse is just as important as the lobby and the facade. Once the main building of the Playhouseis demolished, it will be gone forever and cannot be replaced."

She questions as to why the HEP Board gave the green light to construct the garage and condos without seeing more design information other than several "three dimensional boxes," which is what was shown at the meeting on April 4.

"It is wrong and the decision to issue a COA needs to be overturned," says Barbara. She said, "I think the City of Miami Commission will have more of a vision than the County officials."

The ladies are like minded, Katrina says she agrees with Barbra on all of the above, "I will add that Barbara and I have known each other for years. We met each other walking or dogs in our neighborhood. We ran into each other at the April 4 meeting by coincidence, both of us caring about the Playhouse and the Grove," says Katrina.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Networking and lunch at Bombay Darbar

Bombay Darbar is now open for lunch on Wednesdays, along with Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from noon to 3 pm each day and they are open for dinner nightly, except Tuesdays, starting at 6 pm. Austin, Puja and Danny are ready to serve you.

Dine inside or out at their location on Florida Avenue. A lot of the new office workers in Coconut Grove have found Bombay Darbar and and it's a great spot to network during lunch. It's a nice atmosphere and there is always a crowd buzzing.

Bombay Darbar is 2901 Florida Avenue, you may call and make reservations at 305-444-7272 or just walk in.

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He's leaving, but not going far

10 With Tom 
10 questions in 10 minutes 


Manny Gonzalez,
BID Executive Director
Manny Gonzalez is leaving us. Manny is the Executive Director of the BID (Business Improvement District), he's had that position since 2012 and been with the BID since 2009, staring out as Project Coordinator. May 12 will be his last day here but he isn't going far; he is moving to Wynwood, where he will be the Executive Director of that BID. I asked Manny the 10 With Tom questions.

TOM: Hate to see you go, you are so much a part of the Grove. What do you think your favorite part of Coconut Grove is?

MANNY: As a father of three year old daughter my favorite aspect of Coconut Grove is the ability to come and enjoy the endless options of green space at either:  Peacock, Kennedy or Regatta Park, literally five minutes after work. The over-abundance of tree canopy and green space within 33133 is something we should not take for granted.

TOM: What do you feel your biggest accomplishment has been in these years? 

MANNY:  In my opinion I believe the purchase of the two trolleys for the City of Miami by the Coconut Grove Business Improvement District in order to introduce the service to the western portion of the Grove is a prime example of how partnerships should work for the better of the community and the District. The subsequent approval by our friends at the City of Miami and Miami Dade County to connect to the 27th and 37th Avenue Metrorail and Coral Gables will be a game changer. 

TOM: What would you like to see happen to the Grove in the future? 

MANNY: The completion of the sidewalk improvement projects along Grand Avenue and Main Highway and solution to the Grand Avenue corridor.

TOM: There will only be six board members in Wynwood as opposed to 19 in Coconut Grove, how do you think you'll handle that?

MANNY: I think this is the model the Coconut Grove BID should pursue to some degree.  It allows members to conduct daily business operations, within their respective districts, without the threat of violating the sunshine law of the City of Miami.  Too many members, higher the risk.  Also easier to obtain consensus.

TOM: Wynwood is sort of the Wild West at this point, are you ready for that?

MANNY: 100% - yes.  I am extremely lucky to continue working with Commissioner Russell, Major Morales and a plethora of other City and Miami Dade County officials that I currently work with in Coconut Grove, thus it will be a seamless transition.  If it’s considered the Wild West, it’s by design, the ecosystem in Wynwood is healthy and like the Grove ascending.

TOM: Favorite thing about Wynwood?

MANNY: The overabundance of art and unique businesses and establishments that you cannot find anywhere else.

TOM: Favorite Grove restaurant?

MANNY: After 8 years in the Grove I have learned that this type of questions does not have a correct answer.  They are all my favorite restaurants.

TOM: Favorite Wynwood restaurant?

MANNY: They are all my favorite restaurant. 

TOM: Random question: You're in trouble, the last person you saw on tv is going to save you. Who is it?

MANNY: General Douglas MacArthur.  Big fan of American Heroes channel.

TOM: What's something you always wanted to do as a child but never got to do?

MANNY: Attend a major wrestling event, back when I thought it was real.

Thanks, Manny, I am sure you'll do a terrific job in Wynwood, as you have done here in the Grove.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Too many peacocks on your street?

 

A good use for all the peacocks in the Grove might be to breed them and eat the eggs.

You should keep one peacock for every four peahens you own. This will insure fertility and safety all around. If you keep too many males than there will be fights and chaos in the coop. If you keep too many hens then you can’t be sure that the one you want is fertile or not.

Rather than get rid of them as so many neighbors do, sending them down to the Redland to live, or worse, here is is information on breeding, hatching and raising peafowl.

The breeding season goes from March to August, so we are right in the middle of it. So maybe you can share some of your neighborhood peacocks and peahens with others and it will give friend and neighbors fresh eggs in the morning and you'll have less of them on your street without harming them.

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Women's Happy Hour at the Mayfair Hotel

Anne B. Freedman
The last Monday of every month is a time for women of all professional backgrounds to meet, network, share ideas, promote their businesses and learn from featured guest speakers at the Women's Happy Hour.

This month's speaker is Anne B. Freedman, founder and CEO of Speakout, Inc. Anne will be speaking on,       
"How to Avoid the Biggest Speaking Mistakes Now."

Don't let uncertainty about what to say interfere with your success any longer. In this fun, interactive and practical presentation, you’ll take away pointers to make your speaking opportunities more rewarding and less stressful – for your both your business and your nonprofit endeavors.

Anne is author of the new E-course and book, Public Speaking for the Genius, due out this summer with 14 "do-it-yourself" videos, a tip-filled book and step-by-step workbook. We are so fortunate to have her share her expertise with us and announce how she can help you be an effective public speaker. 

Women's Happy Hour is Monday, April 24 from 5:30 to 8:00 pm at the Mayfair Hotel and Spa, 3000 Florida AVenue.

Enjoy Happy Hour half-price on drinks and complimentary hors d’oeuvres.



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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Do we need more distinguished branding?

Coconut Grove and Lemon City are two of the oldest communities in South Florida. With an influx of Haitians populating Lemon City there was recently an effort to have it renamed as Little Haiti.

Coconut Grove has also been going through a change with all the recent arrivals and perhaps its name will soon be changed to reflect its new identity for more distinguished branding.

Ideas for renaming Coconut Grove:
Little Brickell
South Brickell
Condo Grove
Concrete Grove
Dog Heaven
Baby Stroller
Pretentious and Pricy
Two Starbucks and Counting

Sent in by a friend
Coconut Grove

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Happy Earth Day

"In the beginning God created the heavens and earth...Then God said, 'Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land' ... God saw all that he had made and it was very good."

Let's try and keep the planet and our home Green.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

HEP Board's Playhouse decision being appealed

An appeal letter went out to the Hearing Board Department on Friday. The letter is regarding the recent Historic and Environmental Preservation Board's (HEPB) approval on April 4, of the Certificate of Appropriateness (COA).

The letter starts: "The HEP Board was required to postpone consideration of the application until the interior of the Playhouse was properly evaluated as whether it has historical significance. The staff recommendation that the 'Board does not have authority to consider interior' was incorrect."

At the April 4 meeting the Board voted to approve the COA even though others brought up the fact that the interior of the Playhouse is historic and can be saved. The current plan calls for demolition. The current plan calls for just the front section, while the rest will be rebuilt, not restored. Guided by Michael Spring, who runs the County's Cultural Affairs office, the front "winged area" on the corner of Main Highway and Charles Avenue is to be saved and the rest will be taken down. It's basically a partial renovation. 

Concerned neighbor, architect Richard Heisenbottle, explained at the April 4 meeting, along with experts brought in from the State, how the whole structure is historic, and could be saved. Apparently it fell on deaf ears and four out of five HEP Board members voted for the current plans to destroy most of the structure.

The appeal letter asks that the HEP Board's decision be overturned. The appeal says that the project goes against county code.

The letter is signed by Lowell J. Kuvin Esq., attorney for Barbara Lange and Katrina Morris, two Coconut Grove residents who are appealing the HEP Board decision. Residents were ignored at the April 4 meeting, not given enough time to speak and many, if not most, left incensed. This is the result.

Here is the letter in the dropbox: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/mqsmjyuwchzfzdb/AAAcYxzZrNXyXt_NQun0o-nGa?dl=0

Here is our coverage of the April 4 HEP Board meeting.

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They are dropping "Coconut" from their name

The South Florida Business Journal is reporting that the Coconut Grove Bank is changing its name to Grove Bank and Trust to mark their 90th anniversary and their new headquarters building.

Another loss for Coconut Grove. They couldn't even make it to 100 years celebrating the Coconut Grove name. Not even calling it "The Grove Bank and Trust." The "The" sort of makes a difference.

Little by little, Coconut Grove gets chipped away, it's sad really, there's not much left of the Grove anymore, not even the name.

A few years back, people were up in arms over an advertising campaign calling Coconut Grove "The Nearby Republic of Coconut Grove." People insisted Coconut Grove was changing its name and that could not be tolerated. That slogan never bothered me, but after spending tens of thousands for the whole campaign, it never got off the ground because of outrage from residents and businesses. 

While that didn't bother me, I don't know why the bank sort of does. I understand why they are doing it, but it just doesn't feel right. Maybe it is just that we are losing so much around here that the name is important. I miss when the bank was a community thing, when they were quaint. They lost that when they sold their land and had mega structures built on the property. I miss the days of Food Truck Friday, when I felt Coconut Grove Bank was a real part of the community, slapping the establishment in the face in that regard. Coconut Grove's powers that be forbade food trucks, but the bank went rogue on that and we loved them for that.  Now I feel they would throw me off their property for loitering. 

Well at least they aren't calling themselves Brickell South Bank and Trust.

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Residents are fed up with over-development

It looks like Floridians are having enough of the greed over-crowding caused by over-development. 

We just had the Planning Board decline a zoning change on an apartment building on US1 and Virginia Street where the developer wanted to slip a hotel into the location and now in Palmetto Bay, plans were turned down 4-1 by their council to develop 300 apartments on US1.

From the Miami Herald: “I’m totally against this project and the over-trafficking of the neighborhood,” said Carol Vega. “This to me looks like a monstrosity. I don’t care how cute you make it sound. These projects never turn out that way.”

So nice to see some upstanding politicians. 

This over-sized project would add lots of traffic to the over-burdened US1 nad it is next to single family homes. 

There is another project that is to take over Old Cutler Road in that area, where the developer wants to install hotels and a shopping center, but it's been paired down to a few hundred homes. The pristine undeveloped land will be disturbed for no other reason other than greed.

Here is the Herald story on the Palmetto Bay project.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Village Council meets Friday night

The Coconut Grove Village Council meets Friday, April 21 from 6 to 8 pm at City Hall.

The agenda:

1. Pledge of Allegiance
2. House Keeping
Approve previous months Minutes
Opportunity for Members to add agenda items
Treasury & Budget Update 
Police / Net Office Report  
3. Discussion Items
  NCD Review update
  Playhouse / Garage update
  Up Zoning (Day/Virginia)
  Omni_CRA Expansion
  Grove 2030 Major Projects meeting
4. Old Business
  2017 Elections / Candidates forms
5. New Business

City Hall is at 3500 Pan American Drive.


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Board denies zoning change on Virginia St property

I don't know if this petition worked, but it didn't hurt.

On Wednesday night, the City of Miami Planning and Zoning and Appeals Board denied the application for the zoning change at 2890 Virginia Street. A developer wanted to change the zoning from "medium density multi-family/duplex residential" to "medium density restricted commercial." At one point, the developer's attorney slipped and called the property a "hotel," showing their real intentions.

It is an apartment building now right on US1 and Virginia. Once a hotel or commercial project is allowed in, there would be a whole domino effect. Affordable housing is the goal now in Coconut Grove.  The current property houses 65 apartments.


By a vote of 6-4, the planning board denied the zoning change. 

Neighbors had two minutes each to speak at the hearing and cohesively they explained their case against the change. They had presentations and the petition and neighbors from Village West showed up to tell of their displacement by unscrupulous slumlords on their end of town.

NCD3 was a big factor in the decision. The boards must stand up to zoning codes and when developers come in, they need to adhere to the codes, not the other way around. As it is now, a developer comes in, fights to change the code to meet their needs and it destroys the whole puprose of Miami21 and the NCD which is the Neighborhood Conservation District. The Grove has two, NCD3 is for all of the Grove and NCD2 is the Village West. NCD3 overlays NCD2. It is a protected area and must remain protected.

This shows that if neighbors stand up and work together and present the facts, that things can work in their favor. The goal is to protect the neighborhood and stave off greedy developers who don't care about the history or quality of life here or anywhere. This was called a "One Grove" protest, where all of the Grove banned together to get something done. This is what is needed, one property at a time if need be.

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They're calling it 'Shake Shock'

I follow Hoboken news because I love it up there. I compare a lot of it to Coconut Grove.

I read in H Lifestyle Mag yesterday that the Hoboken Zoning Board shot down the proposal to have a Shake Shack open in the town. The plan was for Shake Shack to be one of the new businesses in the lobby of a proposed building on Washington Street, which is their main shopping street. And it was shot down! The property is a parking lot now.

Councilman Michael DeFusco, who represents the ward where the building would be is upset and said this: 

"Those in our city’s government, elected or appointed, who view community development as a negative need to realize that smart planning makes our city more livable, creates urban vibrancy and expands the tax base. To that end, a commissioner on the zoning board referred to shake shack (ranked recently by Food & Wine as one of the best burgers in the USA) ‘just another burger joint’.

"Whereas the central business district could’ve gained a world class restaurant and a building that generates taxes for the entire City, my neighborhood will instead continue to live with an empty lot."

I do like that people are concerned with development in Hoboken and they guard any over-development and I wonder if the issue is really to shoot down Shake Shack or just to now have the building built where Shake Shack would be. This guy DeFusco needs to get out more if he thinks Shake Shake is a world class restaurant, though.

In any case, I think Coconut Grove could take a lesson from Hoboken and start thinking before agreeing to anything and everything that is propsed as a new development project. Although I know it's the City of Miami that's destroying the Grove and not the Grove itself.

P.S. I have to laugh that Hoboken is literally one square mile in size and they have wards.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Vizcaya's upcoming programs

Photo by David Almeida
Family Program: 2017 Wild Vizcaya 
Nocturnal Edition
Friday, April 21 
6:00 - 10:00 p.m.
TICKETS:  $18 for Adults I $6 for Children, 6-12
$12 for Vizcaya Members I $3 for Children, 6-12
FREE for Children, 5 and under 
Bring family and friends to join a team of scientists to identify the many kinds of wildlife that call Vizcaya's estate home. During this evening program, families will get a chance to see the nocturnal wildlife at Vizcaya, including a variety of bats and insects. 

Registration closes at 8:00 p.m. No refunds for late arrival.

Not a Vizcaya Member? Join online today and get $15 OFF your Family Membership with code FAMILY. 

Family Program: 2017 Wild Vizcaya 
Saturday, April 22 - 10:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
FREE with museum admission
*No reservations required*

Celebrate Earth Day at Vizcaya! BioBlitz returns to Vizcaya for its second year in a row with "Wild Vizcaya," a day of science and discovery for the entire family - from tiny tots to seasoned scientists! 

Learn techniques for exploring, observing and collecting data while using the iNaturalist app to capture and upload photos on your phone or tablet (though it's not required to participate). Join a team of scientists and experts to help identify the many kinds of life in Vizcaya's pocket of preserved habitat and discover Vizcaya's wild side.

Get FREE admission to Vizcaya! Become a Vizcaya member today and enjoy free daytime admission to the estate to take advantage of monthly family programs.

Trio Yoga @ Vizcaya
Sunday, April 30 - 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. 

TICKETS: $18 for Vizcaya Members 
and Trio Yoga Practitioners
Vizcaya welcomes Trio Yoga for a new yoga series at the estate. Admission is limited to Vizcaya members and practitioners of Trio Yoga.

Join Trio Yoga's experienced instructors for a 60-minute, all-level vinyasa class. Classes are held in various locations throughout Vizcaya, including the Garden Mound, South Terrace, Boat Landing, and other evocative locations through the estate. 

Not a Vizcaya member?  Join online today and get a yoga class for FREE. Just select the membership option in the ticket section.
Questions? Send an email

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Shakespeare and Earth Day at The Barnacle

The Barnacle has two great events coming up. On Saturday, April 22 there is Tea With Mr. Shakespeare.

Shakespeare Miami presents a fun-filled afternoon with the Bard of Avon from noon to 3 pm. Come in costume or try one on in the Photo Booth.

Meet fairies in the Fairy Garden. Participate in scenes and sonnets from Shakespeare. Enjoy Renaissance games, arts & crafts, and more, and see actors perform a staged reading of “Taming of the Shrew” at 12:30 pm. 

Picnics and well-behaved pets on hand-held leashes are welcome. The festivities are included with the regular park admission of $2. Children under age 6 are free. Treats and tea will be available for $2 per person.

Then, on Sunday, April 30, The Barnacle and Slow Food Miami invite you to celebrate Earth Day.

Enjoy Earth-friendly products, food, educational crafts and games from 11 am to 4 pm.

Children and adults can participate in Yoga by the Sea at 11 am and Miami Cloud Tai Chi at 1 pm. Fund Pedal will provide live music from noon to 3 pm.

Picnics and well-behaved, leashed pets are welcome. The event is $5 for ages 6 and up and $3 for ages 2 to 5. Kids 2 and under and are admitted free. House Tour tickets are an additional $3 for ages 13 and older, $1 for ages 6-12, and free for kids under 6. 

Free bicycle valet will be provided by Bike Coconut Grove.

The Barnacle Historic State Park is located at 3485 Main Highway.

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Next Chamber neworker is at Ferrey's Lighting

The Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce is having their next networker at Ferrey's Lighting on Wednesday, April 19 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.

There is ample free covered parking.

General Admission: $15 Pre-Pay or $20 At Door
Chamber Member discount price: $10 Pre-Pay or $15 At Door

Includes one drink ticket, hors d’oeuvres + happy hour prices on additional drinks

Raffle tickets $5 each / 3 for $10 & $plit the Pot$

Save Money and Purchase Tickets Online.

Ferrey's is located at 3000 SW 28th Lane. It's back on that street where Shell Lumber is, the first left after you cross US1 at 27th Avenue.

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Early morning cyclists



A Grapevine commenter writer wants bikes off the road because "bikes can’t maintain the speed LIMIT" as if LIMIT means minimum speed. Good Grief. That video was shot Sat at 7:30 am in front of Cocowalk. Hardly anyone is out of their house except cyclists.

Howard Srebnick
Miami



EDITOR'S NOTE: I have to admit I was surprised by the comments that accompanied the bicycle video I posted on Saturday. I had waited weeks, maybe months to get the right moment to film this. I post most of this stuff on Instagram, which I call, "feeding the beast," because it's like you have to constantly post there. And hey, it beats selfies. On Instagram people loved it, same with Facebook, I guess because you can't be anonymous there.

This was early in the morning, Saturday morning, and it's the same on Sunday morning. I venture to say that most if not all of the complaining comments were from people who are not up or out at 7:30 am on weekend mornings. If you are, I don't see you out on the street, as there is not much foot traffic and hardly any car traffic. I just wanted to say that yes, at times groups of bicyclists are annoying on the streets, but my purpose of posting the video was because I think it's a fun, Coconut Grove thing to see all the cyclists pass through the village early on weekend mornings. It's a rite of passage. No pun intended. I thought I was posting something fun, it wasn't intended to rile people up.

It sort of reminds me of the AirBnB situation where people came out to speak at City Hall about the issue and then the City called out those people and said now they knew who to sue and go after because they exposed themselves by speaking up. Not my intention by filming the cyclists. Far from it. I love the early morning cyclists. It's one of the last Grovey things we have left. Let's enjoy it before we are all paved over and turned into Brickell South.

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