Tag Archives: T5

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 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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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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