Tag Archives: Development

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 IsleIn 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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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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Grove Isle lawyers fault developer’s latest plan

As announced on this site on 15 January, the Board of Directors of the Grove Isle Condominium Association received notice that the Developer had received approval of the five story plan submitted to the City of Miami.  The City Zoning Administrator determined that the proposed five story plan for 62 condominiums and a new club is consistent with Miami 21, the current zoning law.  The Board of Directors, through their attorneys Weiss Serota, appealed this determination on 31 December.

The appeal (click to open) is presented in full below.

grove isle t5r

Grove Isle is zoned T5-R

In summary, the appeal argues that the current zoning, T5-R, for 4 Grove Isle is 100% residential.  The current club is a for profit facility open to the public, including those that do not reside at 4 Grove Isle (i.e. those residing at 1, 2 and 3 Grove Isle).  In its current location, it is non-conforming regarding the zoning ordinances since it was built and opened long before Miami 21.  However, to relocate it to a site on tennis courts facing the marina, it must conform to Miami 21.  And as a commercial entity—restaurant, store, spa, etc.—it does not conform to Miami 21 since Miami 21 requires only residential units in this location (zoned  T5-R). 

grove isle appeal

Grove Isle residents appeal developer’s latest plans (click image to open)

We look forward to hearing the response and will share it when it is available

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Grove Isle: Seduction… or Attempted Seduction

Grove Isle New Club Facilities are presented

Grove Isle New Club House Presentation

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.

Maintenance Issues

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.

Grove Isle Club

Grove Isle Club Members and Residents Listen

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.

Q&A

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.

Comments

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.

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Rezoning Tactic: Developer Applies to City of Miami to Rezone 4 Grove Isle

As Grove Isle goes, so goes the North Grove: Potential for waterfront high rises linking downtown Coconut Grove to Brickell

As Grove Isle goes, so goes the North Grove: Potential for waterfront high rises linking downtown Coconut Grove to Brickell

In July, Grove Isle Associates LLP submitted the document (see below) requesting rezoning of approximately half of 4 Grove Isle—specifically the 3 acres currently occupied by the hotel/restaurant/spa.  In contrast to a variance, where an owner requests a waiver from the current zoning law (i.e. Miami21), this is a request to rezone this portion of the property from T5 to T6-8, thus allowing the building of a condominium tower along the plans originally proposed.  Such a tower would then be in compliance with Miami 21.  There is no request to rezone the other 4 acres, now zoned as T5.

4 Grove Isle Drive Rezoning Application Folio 01-4114-002-0010

4 Grove Isle Drive Rezoning Application Folio 01-4114-002-0010 (click image to open)

Rationale:  The primary argument for rezoning  half of 4 Grove Isle is that the adjacent buildings (i.e. 1,2,3 Grove Isle) are high density buildings, and changing the zoning of 4 Grove Isle will not significantly change the character of the island.  The application argues that existing buildings at Grove Isle are in effect T6-8 buildings, the proposed T 6-8 development on 4 Grove Isle property would fit with the neighborhood. Therefore, they argue that the zone change is harmonious and consistent  with the surrounding Grove Isle buildings.  However, 1,2 and 3 Grove Isle are non-compliant with Miami 21, having been built before proper zoning controls were in place.  One might argue now that allowing high density buildings on Grove Isle in 1977 was an error caused by the absence of strict zoning laws and the pro-development attitude at the time.  Urban planners would now properly propose that high density/high rises do not belong on the waterfront but should be set back from the waterfront so that there is a gradual continuum from the waterfront of low rise, then medium rise then high rise development.  Indeed, this is one of the fundamental principles of Miami 21—with a goal of avoiding the Miami Beach and north situation of beach front high rises.

Miami21 zoning of Grove Isle and North Coconut Grove

Miami21 zoning of Grove Isle and North Coconut Grove

The Rezoning Process:  For this rezoning application, the Planning Department of the City of Miami is only charged with reviewing the rezoning application and not in the larger sense of how the rezoning and new development is linked to the 1977 SSA or the 5 year litigation history from 1973-77 that lead to the 1977 Settlement Agreement. Any rezoning must be in compliance with the Comprehensive Plan of the City of Miami.  City Council has the ultimate decision-making responsibility on rezoning.

Implications for rezoning:  Rezoning will lead to construction of a large luxury condominium tower.  All of the issues of access to the island, damage to the causeway, storage of materials, etc will greatly impact not only Grove Isle but residents of North Grove and Coconut Grove.  See earlier post of 25 June.

North Grove Rezoning Threat

North Grove Rezoning Threat Appears

Rezoning Benefits Whom?    Will rezoning of 4 Grove Isle benefit you?  The public will see no benefits. 

Indeed, the public will no longer have access to a public restaurant and boutique hotel.  There will be no aesthetic contribution to the region and a negative contribution to the environment, including Biscayne Bay.  There will be no benefits to the residents of Grove Isle.  Property values are already sagging in a market in which the rest of Miami continues an upward trend.  The developers will be the sole beneficiaries, as measured financially.  In sum, this is all about money.  The developers recently bought this property with the idea of quick, fast track financial gain.

Grove Isle North Grove

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

Implications:   Rezoning represents a legal approach to circumventing zoning laws.  The process is significantly different than that employed  for application of a variance.  Miami has a long history of being pro-development, and changes to the zoning of Grove Isle could portend efforts to rezone much of the waterfront on the nearby mainland in the North Grove, thus allowing contiguous high rise development from downtown Coconut Grove to Brickell.  This would logically complete high density development all along  western Biscayne Bay.

But is it good for Miami in the long run?  Grove Isle is the canary in the coal mine—Could this be the beginning of a domino effect of high density development in areas zoned otherwise?

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Grove Isle Association issues clarification regarding development presentation

A copy of the latest memorandum from the Grove Isle Condominium Association re the developer’s presentation is attached for your information.   To read the memo please click the image below.

Grove Isle Condo Assoc Memo 19 March 2014

Grove Isle Condo Assoc Memo 19 March 2014

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Preserve Grove Isle: Meeting to discuss developer plans scheduled for March 20th at 6pm

The owner/developer of Grove Isle 4 and his architect, RTKL, will make a presentation showing the proposed 18 story, high rise tower and an alternative plan showing new condominiums in several 5 storey buildings replacing the hotel, restaurant, lounge, deck, club pool, spa, and many of the tennis courts.

Grove Isle Condo Assoc Memo 13 March 2014

Grove Isle Condo Association meeting now scheduled for 6pm on 20 March 2014

In connection with this presentation, please be aware of the following:

1.  The developer has no approvals to construct any new buildings on the Grove Isle 4 property at this time. It has not been determined, based on various legal agreements executed in 1977-1979  by the developer and others, when Grove Isle was initially developed and based on a recent memorandum of law prepared by our attorneys, that the developer has the right to expand the development on the Grove Isle 4 property.

2. The alternative plan layout you will see on Thursday is based on a series of 5 story buildings, which will cover MOST of the 4 Grove Isle property. We believe that plan will be purposely drawn to be extremely unattractive and therefore unacceptable to the Grove Isle Residents so that the proposed 18 storey high rise tower becomes the “preferred” plan.

Therefore, it is important to understand that both plans may be unacceptable to Grove Isle residents and various legal documents and agreements may prevent either development concept from being constructed.

3.  These two opposite and radical plans do NOT conform to Grove Isle or its surrounding neighborhood.

It’s time for the developer and the Board of Directors to put our current resident’s “well being” and “character” of our island ahead of corporate monetary interests.

Using current land use laws, compromise, and transparency are always more productive than this type of forceful, and deceptive tactics.

We hope that a satisfactory negotiated compromise can be openly reached.

Memo Image

Grove Isle Memorandum Regarding Developer Plan A and B

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Miami Herald: “Grove Isle condo owners upset about plans for fourth tower”

Grove Isle Residents unhappy with development

Miami Herald — Grove Isle Residents unhappy with development (March 7, 2014)

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.

Thank you for all of your continued support and concern for the future of our GROVE ISLE.
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Grove Isle residents seriously challenged by proposed high density development

Dear Grove Isle Resident,

Welcome to the first island wide e-mail and web based communications program. We hope to enable a better and faster method of communications in order to improve our Grove Isle quality of life.

A threat to Grove Isle

Grove Isle Under Threat

As most of you already know, there is a proposal to construct an 18 story glass and concrete high-rise building at the tropical tip of Grove Isle. The plans reveal that this structure will sit very close to Building Three and will replace the current Grove Isle Hotel, The club restaurant, social areas, bar and swimming pool.  We may lose our walking path and the right to access the area.

The construction time span estimate has ranged from 1 ½ years to 2 ½ years. Many people feel that this modern structure would forever change the tropical and special environment of Grove Isle.

The newly formed Preserve Grove isle Committee, supported by the Grove Isle Board of Directors has been established, together with this special newsletter and email, to oppose this long term construction. We feel that this glass building would be detrimental and destructive to the character and aesthetics of our tropical island.

Over the last few weeks a large number of residents have asked how to stop or alter this situation.  We formed the Preserve Grove Isle Committee to accomplish exactly that.

The first step in our opposition to this proposed building was to organize a powerful legal team to begin to formulate the needed steps in areas of zoning, land use and preservation of land style. This step has been taken and the work is in progress.

The next step is to activate the “social opposition” to this project, which we find to be very strong. To begin this step we ask you all to join us in our loud and vocal opposition to this by sending a very important and urgent message to a few important Miami authorities that need to hear our position. They will take our opposition to this project very seriously. Your voices will be heard.

Here is what to do:

SEND YOUR PERSONAL E-MAILS AND LETTERS IN A STAMPED ENVELOPE TO THESE MIAMI OFFICIALS. USE THIS SAMPLE LETTER OR USE YOUR OWN WORDS AND FEELINGS.

Demolition Grove Isle wriote officials

Yours,

PRESERVE GROVE ISLE COMMITTEE

Disclaimer:  All the information on this website is published in good faith and for general information purpose only. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information on our website is strictly at your own risk. We will not be liable for any losses and damages in connection with the use of our mail, website or links.  This site and e-mail’s commentary, opinions, and recommendations represent the casual, personal and subjective views of the authors and are subject to change.  You may opt-out from this site or mailings at any time via the options on the contact page or the ‘follow’ dialogue box at the bottom of this page.
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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 it would cause to the North Grove neighborhood.  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 equivalent to 8 stories high.

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