Due to the overwhelming amount of misinformation regarding the Historic and Environmental Protection Board (HEPB) meeting on February 5, we prepared the following Fact Check to set the record straight.
The Factual Reason for the Deferral
Lie: “The Historic and Environmental Preservation Board (HEPB) on February 5, deferred the Coconut Grove Playhouse item due to a lack of plans submitted by the County.”
Fact: The County submitted a complete application to City staff by its deadline in December 2018. HEPB members claimed that they had difficulty accessing the plans that City staff uploaded to the HEPB meeting agenda. The County had nothing to do with how the City made the application available to its HEPB members.
How to Find Facts about the Playhouse
Lie: “The County has not been forthcoming about the Playhouse project.”
Fact: The County has consistently sent notices and posted updates and materials about the Playhouse on its web site, https://miamidadearts.org/coconut-grove-playhouse-updates – the reliable source for factual information.
The Truth about Partial Demolition
Lie: “Arquitectonica and the County tried to mislead the HEPB about approval of demolition for the Playhouse”
Fact: The HEPB approved Resolution R-17-023 on April 4, 2017 which said exactly the following:
“A RESOLUTION OF THE MIAMI HISTORIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL PRESERVATION BOARD APPROVING, WITH CONDITIONS (ATTACHED HEREIN AS EXHIBIT “A”) AN APPLICATION FOR A SPECIAL CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS FOR THE MASTER SITE PLAN TO INCLUDE THE PARTIAL DEMOLITION OF AN EXISTING STRUCTURE, THE RECONSTRUCTION OF A THEATRE, AND THE NEW CONSTRUCTION OF A PARKING GARAGE WITH RESIDENTIAL UNITS AT THE INDIVIDUALLY DESIGNATED HISTORIC SITE KNOWN AS THE COCONUT GROVE PLAYHOUSE, LOCATED AT APPROXIMATELY 3500 MAIN HIGHWAY” (emphasis added)
Condition11 of Exhibit A states, “No demolition permit will be issued until this plan comes back to HEPB and is approved.” As promised, the County has not applied for a demolition permit or a demolition waiver. HEPB approved the partial demolition on April 4, 2017 and wanted to see the fully developed plans so that they had the opportunity to comment on them before work on the site commenced. The County has fully complied with this condition.
The County’s Strong Commitment to the Playhouse and the Project
Lie: “The HEPB deferral is another case of the County’s delaying the project and pursuing demolition by neglect.”
Fact: The County had nothing to do with the deferral. The action was requested by HEPB members because they claimed that there was a flaw in the agenda prepared by their own staff. The County submitted the more than 1,100 HEPB page application to the City on time in December 2018. The County was prepared and ready to present the project at the February 5 HEPB meeting and on the record, offered to do so. We remain committed to moving the project forward as quickly as possible and in the meantime, securing the existing Playhouse so that once approved, the restoration plans can be completed successfully. The County is dedicated to completely restoring the historic 1927 front building, incorporating the remaining historic elements of the auditorium into the new theater (for example, the original double proscenium arch), and returning great theater to the place where serious theater in Miami began.