At the request of the Developer—now the Club owner, an informational meeting was held for the Grove Isle Club membership about the future plans for the Club. If would appear that this was a work-around the Grove Isle Board so that the Developer’s associates had direct access to a subset of the residents. Neither the Developer nor his real estate lawyers were in attendance.
Call to Order
Discussion was limited to the Grove Isle Club. All other discussions were “off limits.” The general goal of this meeting was for the developer to “make nice” to the residents, with an attempt to attract their support for his project. For the record, a description of the high points of the meeting follows but there was little of substance that relates to his progress on the overall plan.
The developer has owned and operated the Grove Isle Club for approximately 1½ years, and the consensus has been that this club, dilapidated from the start, has only deteriorated further. Furthermore , the hotel, part of 4 Grove Isle, has also received poor reviews on Tripadvisor. These recent external reviews speak poorly of the entire property, including the tennis courts, the spa, etc. The Grove Isle Board has requested improved maintenance, and the opening of this informational meeting was moderated by a lawyer representing the Club. She stressed that the Developer was committed to bringing the current facilities up to normal standards. A representative of the Club listed a number of items that have been either in the process of being repaired or have been fixed. Our understanding is that a significant amount of repairs remain outstanding.
Timing of demolition of Club Facilities
The lawyer, who was representing the Developer, emphasized that the proposed demolition has not been approved and permitted by the city. She was not able to state when an application for demolition would be submitted. She acknowledged that no demolition or construction could be initiated without the proper permitting. She stated that the Grove Isle Board is being kept abreast of any developments.
New Club Facilities
The architects presented their plan for the new Grove Isle Club. It is four stories, 66 feet in height, and has parking located on the bottom floor—for a total of five floors. The program includes a restaurant for 130 occupants, a bar, a card room, a spa, and a variety of other amenities. There are two outdoor pools: a family pool and a second adult pool. This proposed Club would be compliant with Miami 21, and would be located on the position of the current spa and 2-3 tennis courts between Buildings 2 and 3, facing the marina. (Please note that the Developer has asked the City of Miami to rezone the part of the property where the current hotel/restaurant/spa are located to allow for the construction of a residential condominium tower.)
Alternative club facilities during construction
During construction, Grove Isle Club members would have Social and Fitness privileges at the Biltmore Hotel. This hotel is located about 5½ miles from Grove Isle. Please note that the Biltmore memberships are operated on an individual basis whereas Grove Club membership is on a residential unit basis (thus includes family and children).
Club dues during construction
For those who prefer not to retain their membership during the construction period, membership dues would be suspended. However, it was clear that membership in new club would be a requirement of residency on Grove Isle, as it is currently.
Update Club Rules after construction
Residents would still be required to be members of the Club. There would be some modernization of the rules. There was no mention of potential changes in the cost of annual dues.
During the question and answer period, the membership in attendance recognized this presentation for what it was: An attempt to win over the support of the Grove Isle residents, going around the Board, and to propose a beautiful, elegant new club to replace a poorly maintained existing club for which the residents of Grove Isle are required to pay approximately $1 million per year to belong. Many comments from the audience emphasized the purpose of this meeting: the seduction of the residents with this new facility, with the hope of distracting them from the real issue: the presence, scope and location of the new proposed residential condominiums. The strategy appeared obvious to all members in attendance: the new Grove Isle Club would be relocated for a marina view on the land currently occupied by some of the tennis courts, and the current location of the Club/hotel/pools would be reserved for as yet undefined new residential condominiums. Some important issues were raised about the Club itself: Could such an elegant club with high end facilities be supported by the closed membership of residents? What will happen to the cost of dues in the future (it is highly unusual for a for-profit company to provide amenities for a condo association, particularly when membership is required)? Some stated that this ultramodern glitzy facility, likened to a space ship by some, is completely out of character with the current buildings and property.
In all, the membership appeared angry and adversarial. The architects, to their credit, have tried to approach this design in a professional way. The underlying issue was that they were being used by the Developer to sell his primary project—i.e. the plans for residential condominiums. This project is still entangled in many legal obstacles. Would the developer elect to build the new club facilities on the current footprint of the Club in the absence of permits for the new condominiums? Surely not.
Overall, this was a sideshow in the continuing saga of the attempt to develop 4 Grove Isle. It is the belief of many that whether development of the island occurs will be based on legal issues, including the Settlement of 1977, current zoning laws (Miami 21) and market forces that may play a greater role as Miami luxury construction over-expands. There continues to be little support from residents of Grove Isle for any further development.