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.
First the Tower (18 stories); Second, the resized Tower (12 stories). And now, a Third (perhaps not last…), the wrap-around five story residential condominiums and club.
The developer of 4 Grove Isle has submitted new architectural plans to the City of Miami. The developer is now seeking approval to build two adjacent 80 ft. high residential buildings. The proposed structure wraps along the coast of the island from approximately the position of the current Spa, past the hotel and current pool, to the southeast corner off Building 3. In addition, the new proposed “Jetsons Spaceship” club occupies the position of four current tennis courts and possibly the yacht club. The Board and legal counsel are following these new events with vigilance. The submitted plans are also available in the manager’s office of Building 1 and 3.
It must be emphasized that the Developer has NOT received permission to move forward on any development. This is an exercise to gain support for the developer from Grove Isle residents.
Your attention is drawn to the fact that a number of issues still remain unanswered:
It has been a quiet summer on the development front vis a vis Grove Isle—at least on the public side. As a reminder, the developer has taken a three pronged approach to move his agenda forward: (1) Mediation with the Board of Directors. The first (and only) meeting was held in June, with the understanding that the Board requested more detailed plans that have not since been received; (2) the developer’s initiation of litigation against the City of Miami to move his application for an 18 story tower forward; this application is based on one side of an interpretation of the Settlement of 1977 that led to the development of Grove Isle; (3) the developer’s application to have a portion of 4 Grove Isle rezoned from T5 to T6-8, thus allowing for building of a condo tower under current zoning law, Miami 21. In the mix of these activities was also a proposal by the developer to limit the height of the tower to 12 stories and 168 feet. In the meantime, many competing luxury condo tower projects are either in construction or past the permitting phase in Miami, with construction imminent.
Members of the Grove Isle Club—essentially all residents of Grove Isle—have been invited to a informational meeting at the Club on October 10 at 4 pm by the developer. As indicated below in the invitation, among the agenda items included are the timing of demolition of certain club facilities, new club facilities, alternative club facilities during construction. It is unfortunate that the developer has elected a time that makes attendance by members difficult: at 4 pm, members who have their primary residence at Grove Isle are still at work; and the snowbirds are not scheduled to start arriving until the beginning of November.
The Board of Directors of the Grove Isle Condominium Association immediately sent out an announcement to all residents of Grove Isle. This announcement, copied below, specifically emphasizes that the City of Miami has not issued a permit for demolition to the developer. Furthermore, it was confirmed that this informational meeting has been called by the developer and not the Condo Association.
In our effort to keep everyone abreast of the potential development of 4 Grove Isle with a residential tower of luxury condominiums, we provide this information in the interest of transparency. We thank the Board for their continued vigilance.
Committee to Preserve Grove Isle
The Grove Isle Condominium Board recently issued two updates (please click on memo images at end) regarding the status of the mediation process with the developer. The Board entered into these discussions at the suggestion of City of Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff. The process has been paused so that far greater information regarding the developer’s proposals and methods are made clear. The Board has yet to receive this information.
The Board has also discovered that the developer has put forward an application to allow the installation of construction fencing associated with the demolition of the Grove Isle Hotel and Club. This move is surprising as it is not yet clear what or where exactly the developer is going to build or demolish. Some fear that these parallel moves could be construed as a demonstration of bad faith in the mediation process or that this process is not being taken seriously.
Perhaps it would be useful to know what the Officials at Miami City Hall and City of Miami District Commissioner Marc Sarnoff think about of all of this…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
We thought you would like to be aware that the proposal will likely:
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.
CITY OF MIAMI
Mayor Tomas Regalado: firstname.lastname@example.org 3500 Pan American Drive, Miami, Florida 33133
District 2 Commissioner Marc Sarnoff: email@example.com 3500 Pan American Drive, Miami, Florida 33133 305-250-5333
Assistant City Manager: Alice Bravo (firstname.lastname@example.org) Planning Director Francisco Garcia: email@example.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 (firstname.lastname@example.org )
Zoning Administrator Irene Hegedus: email@example.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
Sean McCrackine 305-372-6789
TROPICAL AUDUBON SOCIETY
Laura Reynolds & Susan Shapiro 305-667-7337
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.
The Miami Herald has now picked up on our 4 Grove Isle situation. The story was published on the “front page” of the Miami Herald’s Business section today! This is a giant step in spreading and explaining our deep concerns regarding this proposed construction. Notably, it confirms that the City of Miami has NOT made ANY decisions regarding our island.