**** WE ARE FULLY FUNDED****
The full restoration, including state of art stage updates, of the landmarked Coconut Grove Playhouse. The large theater will seat 700. The black box theater will seat 200. Making it a 100% performing arts space.
Financing using federal, state, county, city, corporate, foundation and private Funds.
The creation of a comprehensive, Multi‐Cultural and Multidisciplinary Arts & Education Center which will be housed in the original building and the adjacent state of the art convertible community rehearsal studios.
Comprehensive cross cultural programming through technology and innovation for all aspects of our diverse community.
A commitment to all of the Historic Preservation guidelines, particularly those of inclusion and economic development.
Improving the Arts, Cultural, Entertainment, Creative and Tourism industries in South Florida Through training, education, small business development and job creation.
A new Cultural and Education Campus that is the gateway to an authentic historically designated Bahamian village.
Uniting the entire community together through Arts, Culture and Historic Preservation.
Substantial economic impact and sustainability for Coconut Grove, South Florida and International communities.
Creating a new regional theatre and company management.
Revitalization of a major Cultural Heritage Tourist Attraction.
A parking garage
*Leaves 26 million restoration dollars on the table*
$20M of Tax Payers money to demolish 83% of the existing building will force the Playhouse off the national, state and local landmark registries.
The reduction of the MainStage of the Playhouse from 1,100 Seat Theater and the second 200 seat BlackBox theater to ONE 300 Seat theater. Making it a 33% art space/67% retail space
A refusal to work with private entities meaning taxpayers will bear the brunt of all the costs. No substantiated financial plan. 1.5 mIllion already spent on the Playhouse and the building isn't up to code and there is no public record of where the money was spent.
'Pop-up' Retail space, office and parking garage Development turning the 100% arts space into a 30% arts space 70% retail space.
No community or the Historic Preservation office input with a complete disregard for Historic Preservation guidelines.
Little to no impact on the Cultural, Arts and Creative Industries in South Florida considering that the small theater will only produce for a few months out of the year.
Little economic impact on the Coconut Grove business community.
No significant job creation or economic development component.
The loss of what was once a historic architectural and cultural Icon.
The removal of historical architectural elements to display in a permanent 'exhibit'.
No plans on serving the diverse multi‐cultural South Florida Community.
Throughout the years, many concerned constituents have emailed Michael Spring, the head of Miami Dade Cultural Affairs and asked about the plans for the Playhouse. We have always been dismayed at the misinformation the County puts out, so we have taken it upon ourselves to correct their disinformation campaign.
COUNTY: It is important to start by saying that when no one else appeared to care about the fate of the Coconut Grove Playhouse (and after it had been closed for 8 years), Miami-Dade County asked the State of Florida to lease the property to us so that we could begin work on returning theater to Coconut Grove.
UNTRUE: Hundreds of Miami Dade citizens protested to save the Playhouse and thousands of residents voted in favor of a bond to set aside $20 million in restoration funds for the playhouse. Manny Diaz asked Mike Eidson to develop a restoration plan in 2008 which he did working with architect Richard Heisenbottle. Mr. Spring asked Mr. Eidson to stay out of it. Both Mayor Regalado and Mr. Sarnoff opposed Mr. Spring’s plans in writing and on public record immediately because they did not adhere to anything resembling restoration.
The citizens of Miami cared about the proper restoration of the Playhouse, to say otherwise is just wrong.
COUNTY: The County’s plans include restoring the historic front building’s architecture and its original uses (what you misleadingly refer to as commercial real estate space), building a 300-seat theater, adding a parking garage on the site of the existing surface parking lot, and creating a campus that features plazas, a promenade, a pocket park and landscaping. There is no mall in the County’s plans.
UNTRUE: According to the County’s OWN plans, they have repeatedly stated that they plan to bring pop up shops and restaurants into the structure. Also important to note the ‘campus’ is not an arts education conservatory campus, but an outdoor shopping mall.
This misleading characterization of what the Count’s plan is disingenuous . Their plan is a development project first, with 67% (51,218 SF) of the space given over to commercial use and a theater arts project second, with only 33% (25,310 SF) devoted to theater.
This is not the playhouse restoration project that the voters wanted when they approved the 20 million bond issue for preservation.
COUNTY: You are incorrect in regard to the lease between the State and the County and FIU. We are in complete compliance with the lease. Miami-Dade- County has responded satisfactorily to all inquiries from the State about the lease.
UNTRUE: In 2017 Lieutenant Governor Lopez Cantera went on the record to tell Michael Spring in a video played t a public meeting that the County had been non compliant with the lease for four years.
In two letters sent in 2018, Callie DeHaven listed the ways in which the County was non compliant with the terms of the lease.
Both audits conducted by the State inspector general. Mr. Spring ignored the video testimony as well as both letters.
COUNTY: The County’s plan for the Coconut Grove Playhouse would fully restore the 1927 Kiehnel and Elliott building on Main Highway and Charles and would bring theater back to this important cultural and community site.
UNTRUE: The County acts as if there’s a “front building” and a “rear building” on the site. But the fact remains, there’s only one building and that entire building is historically designated. The County’s plan would demolish 83% of that original building, saving only the front façade and miscellaneous historical architectural artifacts.
That’s not full restoration by any measure.
COUNTY: As a result of successive changes to the interior of the theater, most of the 1927 features of the movie house have been eliminated. This includes the removal of interior features and changing the very volume of the space that was originally a movie theater. These significant adaptations were made to try to convert the movie house into a theater for dramatic productions. While nostalgia for the interior spaces of the Coconut Grove Playhouse is understandable, it does not replace the fact that at best, there are only fragments left of the 1927 movie house’s interior features.
UNTRUE: Saving a National Register property is more than a nostalgic endeavor. Significant ornamentation from the original architecturally significant Kiehnel and Elliott design remain, including the original proscenium arch, the original plaster ceiling and crown moldings all of which are hidden behind a simple plywood drop ceiling and A/C ductwork that can easily be removed. Preservation architect Richard Heisenbottle has detailed time and time again how the ‘adaptations’ can easily be removed and the building can be accurately restored to its original design.
The County assessment was created by the Arquitectonica team of architects. Hired by the County, even though they do not have historic theater restoration on their resume, their bias is convenient as it is obvious.
COUNTY: As noted, the County’s plans include completely restoring the 1927 Kiehnel and Elliott building on Main Highway and Charles Avenue. In the meantime, the County has protected the building by repairing openings to protect it from the weather and securing it from repeated attempts to enter by vandals. As long as there is litigation with the City of Miami pending, we are unable to secure permits to begin the more thorough work needed at the site.
UNTRUE: Demolishing 83% of an existing structure cannot be considered restoration. Three years ago the County was offered FREE roof repair and they turned it down. Through various hurricane scares, the building has been left unprotected. There’s a long list of compliance violations that the County has shrugged off for years, including the building code requirements for a 40 year recertification inspection
For years, the County has pursued a path of demolition by neglect.
COUNTY: While you may disagree with the County’s plans for the Coconut Grove Playhouse, it is not accurate to say that the County has not been transparent and truthful about its plans. In fact, the County continues to make extensive information about the Coconut Grove Playhouse publicly accessible. You can view project updates and Frequently Asked Questions on our web site at Coconut Grove Playhouse Updates | Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs (miamidadearts.org<
UNTRUE: The County has consistently tried to silence the community, as well as expert voices in this debate. It has outright lied about the landmarked designation of the building and hidden the problematic math it’s using for its plan.
The County plan failed to gain wide community support almost as quickly as it was conceived because it demolishes the historic 1200 seat auditorium and replaces it with a tiny 300 seat new theater that will do little to enhance the arts and arts education in Miami Dade County, moreover it will have limited financial impact on the restaurants and merchants of coconut grove which are losing 30 million a year while the County plays their games with Miami’s landmark.
COUNTY: Regarding the expertise necessary for historic preservation issues, the design team hired by the County includes noted historic preservation architect Jorge Hernandez. Mr. Hernandez completed extensive research on the Coconut Grove Playhouse and based on this, his recommendations have guided the work on this project. In addition, the City of Miami’s chief preservation officer thoroughly assessed the County’s plans and recommended that the City of Miami’s Historic and Environmental Preservation Board approve the project as submitted by the County.
UNTRUE: Jorge Hernandez recommendations have been contradicted by numerous preservation experts and by the State Historic Preservation Office. You cannot demolish 83% of the historic building and call that preservation.
COUNTY: The Courts have predominantly ruled in favor of the County regarding litigation over the Coconut Grove Playhouse. Just because the entire building has historic significance, that fact alone does not license the City to regulate the interior since it was not expressly included in the City’s own designation report. In fact, the City of Miami 2005 designation report says specifically, “Only the south and east facades possess architectural significance.” In December of 2018, the Circuit Court of the 11th Judicial Circuit agreed with this and concluded definitively, “The 2005 Designation Report did not include the interior of the building. The City previously acknowledged that preservation of the interior of the building was not within the purview of the Historical Board. A motion to deny the plans in order to revisit excluding the building’s interior from the Designation Report was rejected by the Historical Board. The Certificate was thus issued with the express acknowledgment by all parties that exclusion of the building’s interior precluded consideration of the interior as a basis for issuing a Certificate of Appropriateness. The appeal was clearly governed by the existing designations. The City exceeded the scope of the hearing by including the interior of the building in its decision to grant the appeal thereby violating the County’s procedural due process.”
UNTRUE: Most recently, the lower court ruled in favor of preservation on all matters, save one technicality: Mayor Suarez’s veto of the City Commission vote to overturn the Historic Preservation Board ruling that prohibited demolition of the historic theater.
In ruling that his veto was a quasi-judicial matter, the court vacated the veto claiming that the Mayor had ex partite communications on the subject with members of the public which may have affected his reasoning for the veto. The matter of the Mayor’s veto is the currently under review by the 3rd District Court of Appeals. Is it right to vacate a Mayor’s legitimate veto of a Commission action simply because he may have spoken about the matter with concerned citizens?
Want more information? Have questions about the the plans, Playhouse history or plan timeline?
Want to get involved, volunteer, be in the know?
Please visit SaveTheCoconutGrovePlayhouse.com