Grove Isle project risks damaging neighborhood

The Preserve Grove Isle campaign (PGI) is responding to local queries regarding the developer’s proposal for the 4 Grove Isle site.  Families living on the island have insisted that PGI share with the neighborhood some of the main concerns regarding the project.

A copy of the document being distributed follows below:

 Urgent Neighborhood Notice

A fourth highrise on Grove Isle has been proposed

Does this affect you?  Should you and your community be involved?

Grove Isle - Coconut Grove - Possible Impact

ONE IF BY LAND, TWO IF BY SEA: An additional development the size of one of the existing buildings on Grove Isle will require demolition of the hotel, spa, restaurant and the importation to the island of the materials for the new building, parking garages, roadways, pools and other amenities — either via S. Bayshore and Fair Isle Drive (LAND) or via barges coming down the channel from Vizcaya (SEA). If the latter, it will be necessary to dredge adjacent to the island in order to bring the barge to the island, given their draft and the depth of the water adjacent to the building site (click to enlarge image).

Although the sale of this property and its proposed development has been kept secret from our community, our goal has been to make the plan, its legal basis and its details transparent so that the communities impacted may participate in relevant discussions.

The detail: a developer wants to demolish Grove Isle’s club, boutique hotel, restaurant, lounge, spa and pool, in favor of an ultra-modern glass and concrete 18 story building on the northeast side of the island.

Video of meeting the neighborhood

Information campaign regarding 4 Grove Isle Project begins in the North Grove

We thought you would like to be aware that the proposal will likely:

  • cause as much as 2-3 years of severe disruption and inconvenience with many tens of thousands of tons of material being moved either by land or by sea requiring thousands of heavy truck movements and/or barges & dredging having a significant negative impact on the ecology of our marine environment, including manatee habitat.
how much does your building weigh mr avila?

Tens of thousands of tons will have to be moved in a highly restricted and sensitive environment

  • cause damage and inconvenience from demolition dust and debris, pile driving, deep escavations, and construction noise. This will negatively impact local houses, boats, porches, and trees.
  • further slow traffic on and access to South Bayshore Drive – especially during the construction phase. This will further impact access to the Coconut Grove Business District. It may require construction workers & subcontractors to use street parking in the neighborhood (off island).
South Bayshore Drive traffic and construction related street parking

North Grove: South Bayshore Drive traffic / construction related street parking

  •  Lead to the privatization of the island, excluding non-residents from use of the club and other amenities.

We have made legal progress with the city to the point that this development plan is on hold for further review. This gives us and the wider community time to reflect on the full impact of this development proposal on the residents of the island, of North Coconut Grove and Coconut Grove in general and to make our voices heard.

Many existing residents and neighbors are fighting the developer’s plan and have given us, the “Preserve Grove Isle” movement, their support to carry our message to the Coconut Grove neighborhoods and civic associations. Our opinion poll shows that the majority of residents of the island are against all high density development.

Please contact us to help stop or at least shape what is being proposed for our neighborhood via our e-mail address:

Tell us how your neighborhood could participate in this issue and control its impact on the north grove.  Please take a moment to object to the proposal by writing letters to Miami and environmental officials immediately.

Mayor Tomas Regalado: 3500 Pan American Drive, Miami, Florida 33133
District 2 Commissioner Marc Sarnoff: 3500 Pan American Drive, Miami, Florida 33133 305-250-5333

Assistant City Manager: Alice Bravo ( Planning Director Francisco Garcia: 444 SW 2nd Avenue, 3rd Floor Miami, Florida 33130 305-416-1470 General Number for Planning Department: 305-416-1400

Assistant Director: Luciana Gonzalez ( )

Zoning Chief: Paula De Carolis ( )

Zoning Administrator Irene Hegedus: 444 SW 2nd Avenue, 4th Floor Miami, Florida 33130 305-416-1491

Land Development, Chief Antonio E. Perez ( 444 SW 2nd Ave 3rd Floor Miami, FL 33130

Biscayne Bay Environmental Center – Pamela Sweeney 305-795-3486

Sean McCrackine 305-372-6789

Laura Reynolds & Susan Shapiro 305-667-7337



Urgent North Grove Neighborhood Notice regarding 4 Grove Isle


Grove isle was planned in the 1970’s, built in the early 1980’s, and has remained unchanged for the past 30+ years. This developer believes that a settlement for development with the city of Miami in 1977 that allowed construction of what is currently on the island now allows the demolition of the hotel and building of a new highrise tower under zoning laws operative at the time of the settlement. Others now contest that any development, if any at all is allowed, must conform to current zoning laws—Miami 21. It is crucial that a robust public planning review process under Miami 21 is undertaken whereby the developer is required to provide all the requisite information so that the planning department and the public have an opportunity to review and comment on that information. This is a legal matter that is currently in dispute.

Demolition Grove Isle must write to officials

The proposed 4 Grove Isle project has wide implications for the North Grove & Coconut Grove in general.


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20 thoughts on “Grove Isle project risks damaging neighborhood

  1. […] passing may also impact Grove Isle — as it could help the developer with the dredging task in order to move tens of thousands of tons of material on and off the […]


  2. MT says:

    We Totally Agree!!
    We would like to join to save Grove Isle from this disaster!
    We are on the Board of Grove Harbour Condo on South Bayshore Lane in front of a Grove Isle. We appreciate what you are doing!
    Take care
    Martin & Tanagra


    • Martin & Tanagra

      Thanks for your support with this critical Grove Isle and Neighborhood issue. Please contact your condo neighbors on both sides since we all share this major challenge to protect our tropical North Grove neighborhood. You may even consider creating a neighbors “front or coalition” to also voice your concerns.

      We are working the legal aspects currently and will advise as we make progress. The amount of support here is very reassuring.

      We must win here….since there is NO way back from a failure. Please keep monitoring this Preserve Grove Isle web site for future updates.

      Preserve Grove Isle (PGI)


  3. Webster says:

    Juan Suarez was kind enough to post on his google+ page. Give it a look since it pertains to our beautiful island and its marine wildlife.


  4. Norm says:

    It is also interesting to see the Grapevine Comments on this topic. A coat of paint is offered…

    Liked by 1 person

    • BF says:

      Norm, thanks for directing us to the Grapevine. The Grapevine comments are fascinating. Many discuss the history of the Grove in general and how overdevelopment has significantly changed its character. As for further development on Grove Isle in terms of a new 18 story tower, the absence of vested rights from the 1977 Settlement, of which the City of Miami was a signer, will likely be determined in court. Therefore, the developer will need a variance to build a tower. The fundamental question becomes one of the value of zoning laws in a civilized society. The purpose of zoning laws is to allow growth in a controlled way that benefits the city and its communities, and allows real estate investment with understanding how this growth will play out. In the case of Grove Isle, the Association attorneys say that, at a minimum, any further development on Grove Isle must meet Miami 21. Grove Isle is zoned for T5, allowing construction to approximately 5 stories. The proposed tower is 18 stories, not in compliance with current zoning laws—Miami 21. Similarly, the adjacent North Grove is zoned T3–suburban. If obtaining a variance is successful on Grove Isle for a new 18 story tower, one could imagine developers working to obtain variances in the North Grove (there are some lovely waterfront properties for highrises!) to parallel the zoning on downtown S. Bayshore, zoned T6-12—the location of the adjacent highrises. This would ultimately connect the highrises in Coconut Grove to the highrises in Grove Isle to the highrises in Brickell. This is why zoning laws are so important: to eliminate variances allows for orderly, prospective growth by design, preservation of property values and investments, and stable residential communities.


    • Webster says:

      Great website for Grove residents (lots of activities and restaurant information). Although it seems many of these bloggers are as angry as we are with new development projects and are aware of all the problems they generate for grove residents, most of their comments are tongue in cheek. I guess as non GI residents they can afford to see it under a more comical lens. I particularly like the one of the helicopter landing on their possible tower and the fresh coat of paint.

      That brings me to the point of mediation. I still disagree with the recommendation to proceed with this meeting. Although it has been suggested by Com. Sarnoff, there is no need to sit in the table to talk. There is nothing to talk about. We can do that after the city reviews and decides if the project moves forward. Under no circumstances must the board change their position of opposing any kind or new development on the island. If the meeting happens, representatives from PGI MUST be present. Unfortunately, after everything that has happened, I don’t wish to leave anything 100% at the discretion of the Board.


  5. Bob Denholtz says:

    I would like to reiterate my suggestion presented at the meeting with the developer over one month ago. The contract, if the condo association were to purchase the hotel could be 100% financed at a very favorable rate. The association could then work with a management group to operate the hotel/spa and club who would pay rent back to the association thus reducing the mortgage. if a “named” operator such as Canyon Ranch or Ritz Carlton would be interested in operating a boutique propery that would be terrific.

    The club could be operated independantly of the hotel/spa but would be best suited to operate as one entity. The club could remain private to the residents and hotel guests exclusivly with the residents having to pay a reasonable annual membership fee as well as a dining minimum monthly. This would create more resident usage and make for a successful club.

    I would guess that if each resident were to be assessed $50,000 over 5 years ($10,000/year) that would be more than enough to pay down the purchase price. We can either rebate the money not spent or hold the funds in the associations account for capital improvemnts which the island desperatly needs. Restoring Grove Isle will enhance property values which, we as residents, will all benfit from. I would not be surprised when all is said and done how each resident benefits in so many ways; an increase in their property value, a club that they will be proud to be a member and bring friends and family for a wonderful dining experience, and spa/pool facility that is first class including but not limited to new state of the art excersize equipment, pool furniture and a heated pool when needed.

    Please give this some thought as I have lived on the island now 15 years and have seen so much deterioration that it is time we roll up our sleeves and get things fixed, our way, the right way, the only way!!


    • Harry N says:

      I would go a step further and close the hotel. Then we could proceed and build some 5 villas or town homes, or remodel the rooms into bigger residences and sell those off to pay for the project. This will also provide complete privacy to the island. The special assessment will more than pay for itself. Particularly since it wont drop our home values.


    • Ing. Aldo Viteri says:

      Good evening. I am a U.S. resident currently living abroad. Upon retirement,later this summer, my wife and I were looking at purchasing a 2 bedroom apartment with a bay view in the C tower. A friend of mine and owner of a corner unit in building A told me about the sale of the club. We are very familiar with the Island and initially thought this would be a great thing since we were also aware of the state of disrepair of the restaurant, spa and hotel. However, upon researching for a unit to fit our lifestyle, we have noticed more apartments being offered at very high prices. Either some of your neighbors want to leave or want to try to cash out in on a bullish market. Luckily we came across your Save Grove Isle website. Its taken us a week to read all the information and comments posted. I need to share our thoughts and conclusion with all of you. We have decided to stay abroad a bit longer and see what outcome this issue will have. We are not interested in the developers futuristic vision of Grove Isle. We do not feel, like some of you do, that our property values will increase. At $450,00 per square foot, we have decided not to take the risk. We are in no hurr and as a future retiree the last thing my wife and I need is the uncertainty, inconvenience and loss of amenities that we believe will result if there is an approval to build.

      We have always considered Grove Isle a safe, unique and beautiful place to live. We are willing to wait this out but if any new building(s) go up, we will have to look elsewhere. We know some of you may feel like its no loss to you if we don’t buy there. That is not the point we are trying to make. The point is you are all at a crossroads that will require all your efforts and commitment to really “preserve Grove Isle”. I hope everyone realizes immediately how lucky you are to live in such a paradise. Don’t take it for granted or you will surely lose it. We look forward to one day owning and enjoying a piece or your paradise. Best wishes,

      Aldo and Grace.


      • Harry N. says:

        Dear Mr. Viteri,

        I completely agree with you. This Island’s current buildings and amenities are worth protecting or we may stand to lose it. I have always been told that our buildings and landscaping have a pacific island kind of feel. Old and all, they still retain their original Pacific Island feel. The tranquility, sunlight and security we enjoy is a blessing for us all. It gives me the same feeling as staying at the Polynesian Resort in Disney World, Orlando. With its goofy characters and all!

        I wish you and your family a relaxed and healthy retirement and hope to see you at Grove Isle very soon.


  6. LF Photo says:

    You may not like the new development, your views from the neighboring tower may be blocked, and you may be subject to the temporary inconveniences of the construction, but what legal basis does anyone have from keeping the developer from building the fourth tower that was properly entitled and always planned? I don’t think these types of entitlements just magically disappear or evaporate.


    • Theodore 55 says:

      The developer has written and said publicly stated that he has the legal right to build and that he will certainly build. Whether or not it is vertical or horizontally. As an association, we have the right to retain legal counsel and seek representation under what we perceive as a threat to our lifestyles and property values. If you read the legal memorandum it clearly makes the case for no entitlement, or “proper entitlement” as you call it.

      The settlement agreement and documents show that although four towers were originally a consideration, the developers settled for the current configuration of 3 18 story buildings plus marina, tennis, spa, hotel and restaurant. The city approved and issued building permits. Upon completion, the bldg permits were properly closed. No attempt was made to keep them open. I honk the term is abandonment. While selling the original units to the first owners, there was NO mention of a possible or future 4th tower construction. The developer sold a constructed and approved project, hotel, marina, restaurant and all.

      Something like an entitlement does disappear or evaporate, if it existed, it has already expired. Although I am not a lawyer, the question should be what legal basis does he have to build something that under current law cannot be done. He owns the property, but he is not entitled to build whatever was permitted over thirty years ago. Laws and ordinances change for a reason. I think it is for the developer and his attorneys to demonstrate he can develop or construct as per his proposals. In the meantime we can do what already has been done, to question the validity of his assertions.


      • Theodore 55 says:

        Sorry, huge typo… It is not “I honk” but I think the term is abandonment. After the accident I text from my phone using both thumbs.


    • BF says:

      The issue raised is whether or not the developer has the vested right to develop a new tower. This is a legal issue, and one that the developer has surely obtained legal opinion from their attorney, Greenberg Traurig. Since that is a first class firm, the developer was probably told the downside risks (as well as upside potential) of purchasing the property and the issue of vested rights from the 1977 Settlement. The Association lawyers, Weiss Serota, have also weighed in, and said that there are no vested rights. So this remains an unsettled legal dispute. The legal basis for keeping the developer from building the fourth tower may be the current law.


  7. susan says:

    Kudos to those who put this flier together. It includes a broad audience which is entirely appropriate since any major development will impact much of Fair Isle and Bayshore. The newspapers seem to enjoy making fun of the “fat cats” on Grove Isle and this is a great response. Thank you Preserve Grove Isle. You should definitely be included in the mediation process along with the Board. If they don’t include you, shame on them.


  8. Alan Ezrin says:

    I suggest a petition online as well as draft letters that the recipients can click and send

    Sent from my iPad



  9. Harry N. says:

    Thanks guys. What an amazing presentation and effort put forward by the PGI group for the benefit of ALL residents. We cannot thank you enough. My wife and I are proud to have neighbors like you. This type of solidarity is seldomly seen anymore. You have managed to bring a whole island with 510 residences and many other north Coconut Grove residents to take a stand against over development on our part of town. This is not just an island issue, it will affect anyone who lives close-by or drives on Bay Shore Drive.

    It is time City officials listen and carry out the wishes of their voting constituents and stop allowing for more overdevelopment. Miami already has plenty of that. Let’s keep the charm in Coconut Grove. That is why we all bought and live here. No one moved here for its “urban feel”. At some point, the tax-paying and long-term residents need to sponsor and elect officials that will represent THEIR wishes over those of greedy developers who only seem to cater to foreign investors. Most of the foreign investors don’t and won’t even live here. For them it is an investment and not a way of life. They won’t have to deal with the noise, traffic, loss of property value, etc. Think about this before we re-elect any city official. If and when this issue goes in front of the Mayor, City Commissioners and managers, we must be very clear on how we expect them to represent their constituents’ (OUR) interests.


  10. Julio Gomez says:

    Excellent communication by PGI to our neighbourghs on South Bay Shore DR.
    Very well represented the disruption to our community peaceful life that any planned construction on the island will create.
    We must stand firm against this project or any other from taking place.

    Julio Gomez
    Bldg III


  11. Francisco Ulloa says:

    I wonder if developer is prepared to asume detrimental impact on units prices buildings 1 – 2 and 3 as a result of its planned non appropiate project which could be good for other kind of locations but not for G.I. and therefore will compensate each owner for prejudices causad?
    F. Ulloa
    1401 Bldg. II


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