Grove Isle | Coconut Grove | Miami

Grove Isle

Grove Isle, Miami — A proposed high density development risks damaging the neighborhood.  The Preserve Grove Isle (PGI) campaign supports residents’ efforts to halt a development project proposed for the Grove Isle Hotel and Resort site.  This project involves the demolition of the Grove Isle Hotel and Club and its replacement with a 18 story residential tower or numerous “5” story* residential structures that wrap around the island.  This project will destroy Grove Isle’s natural balance and superb amenities that have been enjoyed for many years.  The Grove Isle Condominium Association’s  attorneys have already noted that the developer’s project marks “a stunning departure from established law in reversing more than 30 years of legislation.”  Furthermore, there are also serious concerns about the proposed project’s environmental impact and the damage to the North Grove neighborhood that could result from it.  Please read on to acquaint yourself with the latest developments and issues regarding this high density development in Grove Isle and North Coconut Grove.

* T5 Zoning may mean the proposed structures are actually the equivalent of 8 stories high.

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Grove Isle Club to stay open pending legal case(s)

Quick Update:  The Grove Isle is set to reopen on May 15 pending further court proceedings.

More news to follow.   GI Board Memo now included below.

Legal summary follows below from Glen H. Waldman our attorney who is protecting the rights of Grove Isle residents.

Legal update from The Grove Isle Board - April 29

Legal update from The Grove Isle Board – April 29 (click to open)

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Grove Isle: Full House at Court Today

Grove Isle residents turned out in force today to hear that the Developer’s motion to dismiss our injunction was denied.  One hundred and twenty islanders filled the courtroom and proceedings only finished at 5pm.  The hearing will continue on Wednesday (4/29) at 10.30am in the same courtroom.  We encouraged you to join us then to help Preserve Grove Isle.

For latest update please see http://eepurl.com/bldCeH

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Grove Isle Legal Challenge: LET’S GET ON THE BUS!

BUS IMAGE

GROVE ISLE RESIDENTS!  WE NEED YOUR PRESENCE FOR THIS IMPORTANT COURT HEARING ON:

MONDAY, APRIL 27, 2015 AT 1:30 P.M.

AT THE

DADE COUNTY COURTHOUSE
73 WEST FLAGLER STREET, 4TH FLOOR

BEFORE JUDGE BRONWYN MILLER

ON OUR MOTION TO KEEP THE CLUB OPEN AND AVOID THE DESTRUCTION OF OUR BEAUTIFUL ISLAND.

IF YOU WANT FREE PRIVATE AIR CONDITIONED BUS TRANSPORTATION TO AND FROM THE COURTHOUSE

PLEASE EMAIL ALAN GOLDFARB BY SUNDAY APRIL 26, 2015 3:00 PM.

agoldfarb@goldfarbpa.com

WE WILL MEET IN BUILDING I LOBBY AND THE BUS WILL LEAVE FROM THE LOT NEXT TO BUILDING I.

PLEASE HAVE YOUR FRIENDS JOIN US.  PLEASE ENSURE TO RSVP WITH NUMBERS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

THERE ARE PLENTY OF PARKING LOTS AROUND THE COURTHOUSE.

(CLICK FOR MAP)

Grove Isle Memo Apr 25 2015

Grove Isle Association Memo April 25 2015 (click to open)

 

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CLOSE THE CLUB, ALIENATE THE RESIDENTS AND DIVIDE AND CONQUER: A NOVEL STRATEGY

grove isle

Grove Isle Club’s magical views on to Biscayne Bay

 Grove Isle Update — Key Points:

  • The Residents of Grove Isle have initiated legal action to prevent closure of the Grove Isle Club. This legal initiative is to protect the rights of ALL residents against the shuttering of the Club.
  • We envision that upon the Club’s closure, and in the absence of a demolition permit, the club will be allowed to decay causing many health and safety issues on the island
  • The grandfathering rights that currently allow the Club to operate on the island will be lost if the Club is closed for longer than 180 days.  The developer has failed to address how a replacement club would then obtain the City’s permission to operate.
  • Residents of Grove Isle are protected by the legal documents that established Grove Isle in its current form.
  • We have also learned from a number of residents that they have been approached by agents of the developer. He is again working to Divide and Conquer the island reportedly in the hope to resurrect the 18 story tower plan.

Grove Isle Update — The Detail:

With the Developer’s decision to first close parking access and now to permanently close the Grove Isle Club, including its hotel, restaurant, pool, spa and related amenities, residents of the Grove Isle Condominium Association have initiated legal action to prevent closure of the Club. This legal initiative is to protect the rights of ALL residents against the shuttering of the Club.  We envision that upon closure, in the absence of a demolition permit that has not been issued by the City, the structure of the Club—surrounded by a chain link fence– will be allowed to decay. The grounds will not be tended. Not only will this property become an eyesore, health and safety issues are likely to arise if the Club building is abandoned for a prolonged period of time.

GROVE ISLE EMERGENCY COMPLAINT

Grove Isle legal action

Grove Isle legal action was filed on 22 April 2015 (click to open document)

As residents of Grove Isle, we are protected by the legal documents that established Grove Isle in its current form. These documents committed the Club to provide amenities to all of the condominium owners and residents. This commitment now belongs to the Developer per these legal documents, as recorded by the City and signed by the City of Miami.

Miami Herald Grove Isle Story Headline

The Miami Herald updated the story on Grove Isle last night (click image to open)

The Club is a for-profit commercial operation currently serving both Grove Isle Condominium Association members as well as members from off-island. The Grove Isle Condominium Association, a non-profit organization, is a corporation independent of the Club. Under Miami 21—the current zoning law—the Club could not be built on Grove Isle today because Grove Isle is zoned T5-R, and is limited to residential use. However, because the Club has been in existence for decades before Miami 21 became law, it can exist in its current form in its current location. It is grandfathered to continue its operation. But if it is closed for more than 180 days or if there is attempt to move it to another location on the island, it will lose its grandfather status. This is the urgency for prevention of closure of the Club. Furthermore, there is no approval for a new club, and zoning restrictions will prevent such construction.

We have also learned from a number of residents that they have been approached by agents of the developer.  The strategy is to Divide and Conquer.  The claim is that residents of Bldg 1 and 2 stand to gain from this development but a vocal group in Bldg 3 are interfering with building plans, and that this new development, particularly the 18 story tower, will be great for Grove Isle.  In the meantime, the developer is going to keep punishing the island residents for blocking his development until they submit.  Of course, no mention has been made of the three year construction time line, the movement of demolition debris and construction materials necessary to build the equivalent of one of the existing Grove Isle buildings, the environmental damage, the decreased property valuations and the anti-development sentiment expressed at the recent candidate forum by all residents.  And the legal barriers have been reinterpreted as supporting the rights of development (if this were the case, development would have started two years ago!)

The continued action of the Board of Directors of the Grove Isle Condominium Association in preventing this development is greatly appreciated by all residents.

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Grove Isle: Candidates for Commissioner speak with residents

City of Miami District 2 Commissioner speak at Grove Isle

Grove Isle welcomed yesterday candidates for City of Miami District 2 Commissioner

All Miami District 2 Candidate Commissioners were invited to talk to Grove Isle yesterday.  It was a great evening which laid out clear priorities and concerns for everyone on the island.

Unfortunately candidate Mrs. Sarnoff, wife of the present Commissioner Mark Sarnoff, was unable to attend.

Do listen to what our candidates have to say (click image below to open). Video courtesy of Al Crespo.

Many thanks again to all involved.

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Grove Isle Forum: Meet Miami Commission Candidates on Wednesday Evening

Make a difference to Coconut Grove – Participate!!

Please make time to meet the District 2 Commission candidates at the Grove Isle Forum.

This will be held in GI Building II’s Card Room at 7:00pm of Wednesday April 15, 2015.

Please forward any questions you would like to ask the candidates to your building manager by Wednesday morning.

Grove Isle Coconut Grove Miami DC 2 Election

(click to open)

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Developer Closes Grove Isle Club?

Having closed shared club and residents parking lots on the island, despite easements to the contrary, the developer has now circulated an open letter regarding the future of the Grove Isle Club, which he owns and operates for the benefit of residents of Grove Isle.  In this letter, the developer has asked residents to make a false choice between membership options which effectively compromises their rights and closes the club.  Just how low can you go?

Grove Isle Club

Grove Isle Club Developer message was left at residents’ doors yesterday

The Board of Directors has distributed the following message to residents: “We suggest owners consider withholding any response to the Club letter seeking a membership choice while our legal team evaluates the potential effect on our rights. You will receive further information early next week.” PGI concurs with the Board and believes – especially in the absence of notification to members that the Club would close – that this request of the Club’s owners is deceptive and serves to minimize the responsibility for the abandonment of the Grove Isle Club by the Club owner.  A copy of the Board’s response may be accessed [by clicking here].

PGI strongly believes that residents should not respond to the developer’s proposed options.

Furthermore, with the commissioner candidates for District #2 visiting Grove Isle on 15 April, it will be important to direct to them specific questions concerning development of Grove Isle, the North Grove and Coconut Grove in general.

This is an important opportunity to change the current dynamics by finding politicians that seem more in step with our values.

Grove Isle Coconut Grove Miami DC 2 Election

Grove Isle Invites Miami District 2 Commission Candidates (click image to open)

We provide the following background on this issue for your ease of reference:

  1. All of the residents of Grove Isle are obligatory members of the Grove Isle Club, and pay substantial dues to belong.
  2. The Club provides the amenities for the residents, as meticulously described and defined in the Settlement Agreement of 1977. These amenities are valuable and part of the condominium purchase package.  These include access to the hotel, restaurant, bar, pool deck, function rooms, spa and tennis courts.
  3. None of the resident members of the Club have received any notice of the Club closing. In contrast, members regularly receive multiple announcements via email and/or leafleting of special activities and functions at the Club.
  4. Residents have now received a communication from the Club NOT ANNOUNCING ITS CLOSURE but rather offering members the option of suspending their membership dues while the Grove Isle Club is closed or continue to pay their dues and use the Club at the Biltmore Hotel during this period.
  5. The Developer still has not obtained the necessary permits for construction of a new Club. Specifically, no demolition permit has been issued by the City of Miami.
  6. The current Grove Isle Club is non-conforming to Miami 21 since it is a commercial activity in an area zoned for restricted activities (e.g. residential). If the Grove Isle Club, which is currently grandfathered and thus protected from Miami 21, is shuttered, it will lose its grandfather rights.
  7. Under Miami 21, a new Grove Isle Club cannot be constructed in a T5-R zone. The implication is that upon closure of the Club, Grove Isle will never have another club or its associated amenities.
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Grove Isle Developer Fails to Respond to Residents… Again.

Manatee and pup visiting Grove Isle

Manatee and pup recently enjoying the sea grass around Grove Isle

Grove Isle residents recently received an update from the island’s Board of Directors. 

 The key points of this update are as follows:

  • The Association is initiating legal proceedings against the developer who has failed to respond to residents’ questions regarding the loss of shared parking on the island.  Prior agreements between the owners of 1-2-3 Grove Isle (the Association) and 4 Grove Isle (hotel, club, spa, etc.) provide easements to the other’s properties, as defined in recorded documents.
  • The City of Miami has not approved or declined the developer’s request to demolish the Grove Isle Club.  The Association has voiced strong opposition to demolition in the absence of a building permit.
  • As an internal matter, completely separate from the issues with the Developer, the capital improvements assessment is undergoing a value engineering review.  A group of concerned residents have asked for (and sponsored) a peer review process of the capital improvements project(s) before the Board of Directors passes a resolution to proceed with these works.

A copy of the Board’s memo follows below (click image to open document).

Grove Isle BOD memo 27 March 2015

Grove Isle memo 27 March 2015 (click to open)

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Grove Isle: legal & parking update

And now bicycles…

The developer has now demanded that Building III’s bike room be emptied — and residents have been given seven days to vacate this space.

During Monday’s Board of Directors’ meeting, Tony Recio of Weiss Serota,  presented a much appreciated legal update regarding the developer’s various plans for the island.   Excerpts of this meeting, which include comments regarding the mediation process and parking saga, may be reviewed by clicking this [link] or the image below.

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Frustrated Developer Attempts to Influence Grove Isle Residents

The Developer has emailed the residents of Grove Isle, bemoaning the fact that he has been unable to work with the Board of Directors of the Grove Isle Condominium Association and requesting collaboration with the Grove Isle residents.

Grove Isle Developer

A rare communication from the developer was sent to residents on Friday evening.

It has been two years to the week that the Developer quietly purchased 4 Grove Isle and he can show no tangible progress regarding his project(s) for Grove Isle.

In brief:

  • He claims to be concerned about residents’ legal costs while he retains legal teams to undermine residents’ rights
  • He claims support from a majority of residents for his plans (when the opposite is true)
  • He makes no mention of the past mediation procedure during which he repeatedly failed to answer the Grove Isle Board’s questions or his attempt to get the land rezoned while repeatedly misquoting the Board’s legal opinion
  • He believes that all works (Residents’ renovations and new development) should be done simultaneously without considering the logistical impossibility of this suggestion (where would we put all the trucks/building equipment?)
  • He attempts to blame his newly introduced parking restrictions on the Board by citing unaddressed safety concerns two whole weeks after the fact and after having attempted to have residents’ cars towed

In detail:

It is now two years to the week that the Developer purchased 4 Grove Isle, and no tangible progress has been made in the demolition of the existing hotel, spa and restaurant and the construction of ultra-luxury condominiums and new club that has been proposed in multiple versions.  He claims to be concerned about the legal expenses to which Grove Isle residents have been subjected.  He espouses that he has the legal right to develop his property and that the vast majority of Grove Isle residents are excited about the new development and a new club. This is in contradiction to the fact that a door-to-door survey with signatures proves that residents by a wide margin REJECT the new development.

Grove Isle Club

Grove Isle Club Members and Residents have long been waiting for answers

There is no mention of the negative messages that the Developer has transmitted to the Grove Isle residents and Board.  He initiated in secret an 18 story condominium tower based on his interpretation of the Settlement Agreement of 1977; during the mediation with the Condo Association initiated by Commissioner Sarnoff, the Developer secretly requested rezoning of a section of his parcel with the City of Miami so that he could construct a high-rise condominium tower (see post of 18 August 2014); most recently, he notified the Board late on a Friday afternoon that tow trucks would remove all cars from his property at 6 am on Monday—despite an easement that makes parking on his property available to the condo association residents.  The tow trucks arrived with a police escort, but an injunction blocked their activity (see post of 22-23 February 2015).  Is this punitive action what he means by “collaboration”?  Is this developer a credible partner with whom we can build our hopes and futures on Grove Isle?

Grove isle

New Grove Isle Club Empty Parking Regime

What the developer fails to acknowledge is that, absent the Settlement Agreement of 1977, he would indeed have the right to build residential structures compliant with the current zoning law, Miami 21Rest assured, if there were no legal barriers to the development of 4 Grove Isle, it would not matter to him at all whether the residents of Grove Isle were for, against or neutral.  Construction would have commenced long ago.  To date, our Board and our attorneys Weiss Serota have properly pointed out to the City of Miami that (1) the Developer has no vested rights to build a fourth 18 story tower—and hence his decision to move toward a horizontal Miami 21-compliant structure; and (2) the Developer cannot move the non-conforming Club to a new location because the property is zoned T-5R—for residential use—whereas the Club is for profit and serves the public, including those on Grove Isle.

It is not certain what the next step is, but messing with City requirements for parking on the island and calling for a united effort to turn the island into a construction site for multiple years represent a bizarre strategy.  In the interim, PGI is joined at the hip with the Board of Directors of the Grove Isle Condominium Association.

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Grove Isle: New member-only valet parking policy

 

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Yesterday the developer sent out the March Grove Isle Club calendar.   On the back is a notice that complimentary valet parking is now being offered to all Club members.   This appears like a retreat on the developer’s previous position (see previous posts).

This last development shows at best poor planning and communication from the developer, or at worst an attempt to manipulate the feelings of as many people on the island as possible.

The simple fact is that Grove Isle could not have been built without enough parking spaces.   An agreed number of shared spaces (our research shows this to be 111 spots) was/is a city requirement.

We trust that the Grove Isle Board will continue to robustly deal with this dispute.

 

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Grove Isle: developer’s tow trucks ordered off the island

tow truck grove isle

Miami Police were present with tow trucks on Grove Isle at 6am this morning

Extremely rapid action by our Board and lawyers halted the latest parking action by the 4 Grove Isle developer.  An emergency injunction was issued in our favor at 8.19pm on Sunday.  This court order was shown to the police at 6.00am this morning.  The police then ordered the developer’s tow trucks off the island.  The Board expects the matter to be addressed in court later this week.

A copy of the Board’s latest memo regarding this matter follows below (click image to open).

grove isle parking developer injunction

GI Board memo regarding injunction regarding developer’s parking action (click image to open)

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Developer demands Grove Isle owners park elsewhere

GI Parking

Towing warning posted on residents cars on deck between GI 2 and GI 3

The Condo Association received notice at 4.55 pm Friday (2/20) from the developer of changes to parking availability on Grove Isle.  We are informed that these changes are effective as of 6am Monday (2/23). We attach copies of the relevant notices below for your ease of reference (click image to open) . The matter has been referred to the Island’s lawyers and the Board has advised residents to “take no action until further notice.”

grove isle parking

Grove Isle memo regarding 4 Grove Isle Parking notice  (click to open)

Grove Isle parking

4 Grove Isle Parking notice to Grove Isle residents (click to open)

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Grove Isle (Over) Development 101

Rendering of Sailboat Key (38 Storey)

Rendering of Sailboat Key / Grove Isle (4 x 38 Storey)

The goal of Preserve Grove Isle is to provide to residents of Grove Isle and the public in general accurate and objective information related to the history of development and the legal issues related to proposed development of 4 Grove Isle.  We have worked to provide accurate and detailed information to make certain that the issues before Grove Isle, Grove Isle Associates (the Developer) and the City of Miami are transparent.  After all, “sunshine” is what makes Miami, and sunshine on these issues is good for the public interest.

Please scroll down to read a summary of our research.

Sailboat Key (Grove Isle) 4 Towers & Club with Parking

Sailboat Key / Grove Isle Towers, Club with Extensive Parking

To this end, under the “Documents” tab on the home page, we have made available public documents, including contracts, filings, permits, and plans related to the proposed development of 4 Grove Isle.  Some of these documents are very old, dating back into the 1970’s, whereas others are recent.  These documents provide the legal basis for our claim that the Settlement Agreement of 1977, signed by the City of Miami, the then owner/developers and those from Coconut Grove who originally opposed the proposed plan of development of Sailboat Key on Fair Isle, limits further development of Grove Isle.

Alternative Rendering of Sailboat Key (1500 Car spaces)

Alternative Rendering of Sailboat Key / Grove Isle

In summary, the documents show:

1]  Grove Isle’s original development was complicated by legal and political action.  The local community was in total opposition to the development and expressly the overdevelopment of an undeveloped island with its plan to build four 40 story towers with 2000 units and 1500 parking spaces.

2]  The process resulted in a compromise that shaped the island as we see it now. After significant litigation, the Settlement of 1977 defined what would be allowed and the location of all of the elements, including the club on the eastern shore of the island.

3]  Building permits were issued, three 18 story towers and one five story tower were built and certificates of occupancy issued—all within the constraints of the Settlement of 1977.

4] Sale of 4 Grove Isle in March 2013 and plan to build an 18 story residential tower on the site of the hotel/restaurant/club—after over 30 years without change on the island.

5] Weiss-Serota Memorandum of Law claiming the absence of vested rights to build an 18 story tower based on the Settlement of 1977 and the importance of current zoning law, Miami 21.

Grove Isle Condominiums and Club Rendering

Grove Isle Condominiums and Club Rendering

For access to the PGI document archive please go to the DOCUMENTS section of this web site. .

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Yet another flaw in the Grove Isle planning process?

The Grove Isle Board maintains its view that flaws seen in the developer’s latest plans should not be ignored by the City.  The Board’s lawyers had previously appealed the City’s Planning Administrator’s decision and argued that developer’s plan was non-compliant with Miami21 planning regulations (click  for earlier post).  To which the City has replied that its approval was part of a private process between itself and the developer.  As a result, the Grove Isle Board has stated that it intends to challenge this determination in order to protect the rights of the island’s residents.

Grove Isle Association Memo Jan 23 2015

Grove Isle Association Memo Jan 23 2015

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