Category Archives: North Grove Neighborhood

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 (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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Grove Isle Board issues update on proposed development

The Grove Isle Condo Association has recently updated residents with details regarding the Developer’s new plan for the island. The new proposal foresees a tower of 168 feet and 12 stories high. As such, it represents a 20% height reduction from his  original proposal. It is important to note that this height information is meaningless, as no other data (for example, building volume and footprint) has been provided, despite requests for more information made months ago in the mediation process.

Latest moves made on 4 Grove Isle Condominium Board site

More moves on 4 Grove Isle site

It appears that the Developer’s application to rezone his section of the island has not yet been confirmed for hearing by the City’s Planning and Zoning Appeals Board.  Rezoning part of Grove Isle is an attempt to force the City’s hand and throw out Miami21’s relevance in the North Grove.  It’s a slippery slope — a decision to allow rezoning 4 Grove Isle may facilitate the eventual rezoning of the whole North Coconut Grove coastline.

Grove Isle North Grove

Rezoning of Grove Isle could lead to the rezoning of much of the surrounding waterfront.

A copy of the latest Board memo is available below (click image to open).

Grove Isle Association Board Memo Aug 28 2014

Grove Isle Association Board Memo Aug 28 2014

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Developer Moves to Rezone 4 Grove Isle

Priceless views from Grove Isle

4 Grove Isle Hotel & Club Views – priceless and still neglected

The 4 Grove Isle Developer has now submitted an alternative plan for the island to the City of Miami.  The new application mentions a 12 story tower on a development area which excludes the tennis club.  As such, this is a more sophisticated attempt to split the island and test the resolve of the community against further high density development.

Rezoning is required as the project will still not be in keeping with the Miami21 planning regime — a structure which should provide a foundation for real estate decisions.   Furthermore, it is not yet clear what effect this will have on club amenities or how the developer intends to overcome the serious logistic and environmental constraints of the island.

Needless to say local residents, both on and off the island, and the real estate market have been ‘spooked’ by this project.  Perhaps it is also partly responsible for the recent high profile departure from our neighbourhood…

For further detail on this update please click on the Board memo image below.  Please also share your insights on this topic in the comment section below.

Grove Isle Board Memo July 24 2014

Grove Isle Board Memo July 24 2014 (click to open)

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GROVE ISLE: One if by land and two if by sea redux

Although there remain many legal, environmental and political issues to be resolved before any development can proceed on Grove Isle, we believe the logistical issues of developing a large new project on the far side of a small island, already with over 500+ residential condominiums, quite daunting. To obtain detailed analysis and expert consideration from a third party removed from this discussion, we queried an experienced construction engineer in order to obtain a professional opinion. The comments made regard either the developer’s Plan A (the tower) or Plan B (five story horizontal development), both of roughly equivalent size. We specifically wished to learn the options that any contractor would have for the demolition phase, the construction phase, and the completion phase.

Grove Isle has long sought to protect its bridge from high weight loads

Grove Isle has long sought to protect its bridge from high weight loads

The challenge is that this is a large project proposed on a very tight, thin and long slice of Grove Isle. This island, connected to the mainland by a two lane causeway that is rated for 15 tons, is fully occupied and the primary residence for many families. Plan A is positioned on the exact opposite side of the island from the causeway entrance. The island is surrounded by Biscayne Bay, and the bay is about 2-4 feet deep within a half mile of the island perimeter except where dredging was performed to approximately eight feet many decades ago in the marina area.

fencing and demolition

Grove Isle demolition and construction threats

Preparation phase: During the preparation phase space for the trucks, supplies, workers’ parking will be reserved and secured. Presumably, chain linked fencing and lighting will be installed to minimize theft and vandalism of construction materials. There will be signage for resident traffic detours, placement of construction trailers, and the need to reserve a large area for outgoing debris and incoming building materials. Given that 4 Grove Isle covers about 40% of the circumference of the island, all of these activities will necessarily be in close proximity of 1, 2 and 3 Grove Isle.

Traffic Issue

Grove Isle Drive provides access to 500 family homes

Demolition phase: During the demolition phase, the existing hotel, club building, spa, roadways, parking structures and other related structures will be demolished, and the debris, asphalt, concrete, glass and metal removed. As a crude estimate, our consultant suggests that this will involve the removal off-island of about 15,000 tons of debris. Given the 15 ton limit of the causeway, approximately 1000 dump truck runs will be required if removal is by land. If removal is by sea, standard dump barges would be used. These barges, which hold about 2400 tons of debris, draw 14 feet of water. Six or seven barges would be required. However, nowhere in Biscayne Bay is the water depth 14 feet. Either a channel would need to be dredged from the ocean to approximately 16 feet deep or many more but much smaller barges that draw considerably less water could be used.  Nonetheless, there is currently no channel to the island to support even medium size barges. See the image of the government chart of Biscayne Bay below. Grove Isle is shown within the large red circle.  A number of the depth readings, also circled in red, are  indicated in feet.

Map showing depth of bay around Grove Isle

Sea grass and the limited depths of Biscayne Bay surround Grove Isle

Construction phase: In this phase, the 18 story tower (Plan A) or multiple lower sized buildings (Plan B) will be constructed on the development site. This involves the building of the foundation, preparation of elevator shafts, and assembly of the steel framework. Next, concrete is poured for floors, and exterior windows and facades installed. When tight to weather, the interior walls are built, and the plumbing, electrical and HVAC installed. Finally, interior walls are tiled or painted, appliances and cabinetry installed, and floors laid with wood, carpet or stone. Modern construction techniques usually perform many of these activities in parallel, from the lower floors to the top floors, in sequence. This entails the delivery to the island and to the construction site specifically of about 30,000 tons of materials, including cement, steel, glass, mechanicals, HVAC, etc. Again, from the analysis above, this will require over 2000 trailer trucks and cement trucks or many specialty barges to accomplish importation of these materials. Furthermore, new roads and parking areas will need to be built.

delivery traffic

The proposed project may involve thousands of journeys to move over 30,000 tons of material on to our island

Completion phase: There will be a “clean up and furnishings phase” where all the construction infrastructure will be removed and the luxury property prepared for sale. Many of these apartments will be custom designed by new owners working with their own group of decorators, contractors and subcontractors. The windows, glass walls, mechanicals, railings, paint and all the interior common furnishings are loaded at this phase. Depending on how well these new units sell, this period could be relatively short (six months) to multiple years. All new residents will need to move in and load their personal furniture and furnishings.

developer dredge biscayne bay

Grove Isle developer dredging threat to Grove Isle and Biscayne Bay

Duration: The duration of this development can be approximated using a construction “time line.” The estimate for a project of this scope, with its attendant logistical issues, is at best 2.5 to 3 years for preparation and building construction. This assumes NO legal or unexpected events, unforeseen environmental issues, and the absence of labor strikes. Custom design and modifications of each unit by their owner could take at least an additional year. If the developer were to obtain all permits necessary to begin construction in early 2016—one and a half years from now—the project would be completed by 2020. In the interim, much of the island would be a construction site. The effect on sales of existing condos is uncertain but there is no reason to believe that construction on this scale would enhance valuations. More likely, turnover of condos during this period would be decreased and price per square foot would diminish. After 2020, valuations become more difficult to predict.

Preserve Grove Isle

Note: All values and statements cited above are based on our opinions and estimates

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Grove Isle Mediation Begins

Long views over Biscayne Bay (Grove Isle May 2012)

Taking the long view over Biscayne Bay (Grove Isle May 2014)

Mediation proceedings finally began today regarding the proposed high density development at 4 Grove Isle.  Representatives of the involved parties including the City of Miami met this morning to begin the process.  It is not yet clear what exactly this non-binding mediation is supposed to deliver.

Separately another potential challenge to Grove Isle’s environment has appeared in the light of the battle to build the Beckham Soccer stadium in downtown Miami.  The City Commissioners have recently approved Resolution 14-00422 which gives the city “the ability to sell or lease submerged lands to buyers who own or have a lease on the contiguous shoreline WITHOUT a referendum.”  The Tropical Audubon Society has been fighting this idea for some time as it “puts Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve Resources at risk”.

The resolution’s 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 island.

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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:

savegroveisle@outlook.com

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.

CITY OF MIAMI
Mayor Tomas Regalado: tregalado@miamigov.com 3500 Pan American Drive, Miami, Florida 33133
District 2 Commissioner Marc Sarnoff: msarnoff@miamigov.com 3500 Pan American Drive, Miami, Florida 33133 305-250-5333

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

Assistant Director: Luciana Gonzalez (LGonzalez@miamigov.com )

Zoning Chief: Paula De Carolis (pauladecarolis@miamigov.com )

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

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

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
Biscayne Bay Environmental Center – Pamela Sweeney 305-795-3486
Biscayne.Bay@dep.state.fl.us

MIAMI-DADE DERM
Sean McCrackine 305-372-6789
mccras@co.miami-dade.fl.us

TROPICAL AUDUBON SOCIETY
Laura Reynolds & Susan Shapiro 305-667-7337
biscbaycoalition@tropicalaudubon.org

 

URGENT NOTICE IMAGE

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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