City Violates Own Code: Sends 110 Phoenetia Development To Board Of Architects, While Garden Of Our Lord Appeal Still Pending

Ariel Fernandez

Founder & Editor
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Bonnie Bolton’s historic designation application of the Garden of Our Lord is still pending, but the City of Coral Gables has seemingly deemed it a done deal.

At the Thursday, February 9th Board of Architects meeting, the Board will have its first look at the mixed-use development planned for the location of the garden, even though the City’s Zoning Code does not allow for any proceedings to take place until all appeals are complete.

According to the City of Coral Gables Zoning Code in Article 14, Section 14-208.6(C) “An appeal shall stay all proceedings in the matter appealed from until the final disposition of the appeal by the City Commission or other Board with jurisdiction.”

This code is specific and offers no exceptions, but the City has opted to ignore its own Code and advance the application to the Board of Architects.

Proposed Project

The proposal calls for an 83-foot, 9-story building with 177 residential units, 16 live-work units, 340 parking spaces and a 5500 sqft space for Crystal Academy School. (Click here to see project application).

Current Designation vs. Proposal

At present, the Zoning Code designates these parcels as Special Use. Under this designation, the building can be no taller than 45 feet and 3-stories, with a maximum lot coverage of 65%. The proposed project seeks nearly double the height, triple the stories and 82.8% coverage.

The developer is also planning to use more FAR (Floor Area Ratio) than allowed. The current allowance is 64,337. The project calls for an FAR of 234,724. An increase of 360%.

Screenshot of the City’s website describing the property

North Ponce Neighborhood Conservation District Overlay

The parcels are also part of the North Ponce Neighborhood Conservation District Overlay (NPCO). According to the City’s website, “the purpose of the North Ponce Neighborhood Conservation District is to preserve and enhance the garden apartment character of the North Ponce residential neighborhood properties.”

Garden apartments are defined by Redfin as “Generally, most garden apartments refer to an apartment complex surrounded by green spaces like gardens, flowers, woods, or large lawns. The apartment building is no more than three stories tall and the green space is shared by all of the tenants.”

The proposed project does not qualify by this definition.

Reaction

Attorney David Winker, who is representing Bolton, said in a statement, “the purpose of this stay provision in the Code is to avoid wasting time and resources until the appeal is resolved. We’ve asked the City Attorney to ensure that this hearing is cancelled in accordance with the Code and resolution of Bonnie’s appeal. I don’t understand why the City is pushing so hard on this, but it just seems like another chapter in residents having to spend so much time and resources getting the City to follow its own laws.”

In a statement to Gables Insider, City Attorney Cristina Suarez said, “The applicant is proceeding with preliminary review by the Board of Architects (“BOA”) at its own risk and will provide a hold harmless agreement. Preliminary review by the BOA does not grant a development permit,” showing more concern for a developer lawsuit than interest in defending the City’s Zoning Code and residents’ interests.

Petition

Since learning of the Board of Architects meeting being scheduled, a petition was started by a neighbor of the property “in order to ask for the Commission’s “urgent preservation of the garden.” Click here to see the petition.

Board of Architects Meeting Details

The Board of Architects meeting will take place on Thursday, February 9th, at 9:00AM at the 427 Biltmore Way First Floor Conference Room. Residents can also participate via Zoom at https://us06web.zoom.us/j/84313511749.

Background

Images of the proposed project were taken from the project application submitted to the City by the developer.

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23 thoughts on “City Violates Own Code: Sends 110 Phoenetia Development To Board Of Architects, While Garden Of Our Lord Appeal Still Pending

  1. Does your website have a contact page? I’m having problems locating it but, I’d like to
    shoot you an e-mail. I’ve got some recommendations
    for your blog you might be interested in hearing.
    Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it expand over time.

  2. I doubt Maria Cruz will run. She has baggage that hurt her bid for the interim commissioner position, which eventually went to Cason. Besides, Lago has already made endorsements for both open commission seats. If Maria, had any aspirations, Lago would probably not have endorsed Arango. Or, maybe, Lago and Maria have had a falling out just as Lago and Ariel have had?

  3. We need Maria Cruz and Ariel Fernandez on the Commission—period!!!! Not Bucelo whose campaign signs are given out with Lago campaign signs whose daddy has a law firm and will be Lago’s puppet to funnel developer business to daddy’s law firm.
    VOTE ARIEL!! No more bootlickers

  4. A potential puppet award may go to the Board of Architects, the Mayor, and the Commissioners for not stopping the developer.

  5. This week’s puppet award goes to City Attorney Cristina Suarez.
    She gets the award because the developer pulled her strings that allowed him to proceed with
    his monster project.

  6. Guaranteed Century has plenty of bootlickers there inside city hall, attorneys, lobbyist, etc to do his deeds. His U S Century Bank received $50M in TARP money,though never charged with any wrongdoing, refuses to answer any questions or emails related to this matter.

  7. Dear “the Future”
    I live on Phoenetia avenue where the project is proposed.

    The definition of progress is to make things “better” for humanity. The proposed project’s design will not benefit anyone, including the city and good developers.

    The North Ponce Area is the densest area in the Gables.

    The proposed project will have a significant negative impact in my quality of life. Its density; intensity; volume; massing; lack of green areas; and lack of connectivity with neighboring streets makes it totally inappropriate for this neighborhood and my street.

    There are smart and sensitive developers in the city. George Merrick is an example of an extraordinary developer.

    Not all developers lack understanding and knowledge on how to create value. Unfortunately, Century Developers is not socially responsible and will hurt significantly the value of properties on abutting streets; and, this developer will also devalue the neighborhood’s future potential for responsible and thoughtful development by prestigious developers who design high quality projects.

    The city has the responsibility to take a strong stand against irresponsible development like this one.

  8. There’s currently a Christian Church on the property. Been there for 50+ years. Maybe the people pushing the project are atheists. In other words, communists. They envision people inhabiting TINY apartments in large apartment blocks, with no green space. Please watch the movie Metropolis. Too bad no one has the guts to tell them to their faces, or peacefully protest outside their offices to shame them. Maybe we all know they have no shame and we’d be wasting our time.

  9. Please vote the ENTIRE commission OUT.
    The election is upon us!!! This is our opportunity to take control of our City.

  10. Please learn from BIG TIME developer Ugo Columbo. He made a ton of money with his Santa Maria high rise & kept Mayor Ferre’s historic mansion intact as a clubhouse. I don’t know why Pino won’t compromise & keep the wall and garden for the exclusive use of his future tenants or condo purchasers. I guess he doesn’t have enough money & feels poor. We are all going to die and you can’t take the money with you. A project with green space is a classier project. Agave group, tequila tycoons, included a plaza at the Plaza. What made Cocowalk successful is the same park/ plaza setting. When developers get too greedy they shoot themselves in the foot, destroying neighborhoods. My wealthy Jewish friends did the same on Miami Beach & then had to move to Boca. Maybe Pino already has a pad at Marina Hemingway to escape the ugly Coral Gables of the future; and he’s being altruistic with the public housing block he proposes? Garden apartments, remember Melrose Place, are for smarter, artistic, educated people. Taller buildings are for pendejos.

  11. Dear The future,
    We are not old folks because we want Coral Gables to look like a City Beautiful. We want it to look like George Merricks vision. We do not want massive traffic issues, overcrowding, and concrete. We want the vision we moved here for. You must work for a developer or reap profits from these monstrosities. Or maybe you were asked to write your insults to the residents by one of our horrible leaders who continually ignore and insult us. Everything that has occurred since Lago took office has been one fiasco after another. It is time to really push back.

  12. Nice to see the city making progress. It’ll be a beautiful building. Too many uptight old folks in the Gables trying to keep things in the past. Welcome to progress.

  13. Want to really shake things up? Ariel or Maria should run against Lago. Lago already claimed the mayoral victory when he stated he will be raising trash fees next year at last commission. We would see if Maria and Ariel are who they say, representing “the people”. Up until about a year ago, Lago used to blind copy Maria and Ariel on his email correspondence. Yes it’s true, if you emailed Lago on a matter, he may have replied to you and blind copied others on your personal business. I have the receipts.

  14. zoning laws in CG are applied to the citizen while deep pocket corrupt developers rip it apart thru favors, $$. No more professional liar attorneys on the commission they look out for themselves first while claiming to represent you report them to BAR for disbarment

  15. THE CITY ATTORNEY SHOULD HEAR FROM RESIDENTS ON THE MATTER TODAY. A SAMPLE LETTER IS BELOW. EMAIL LETTERS TO [email protected]

    Dear Madam City Attorney,
    The below project is scheduled to come before the BOA on Thursday February 9th. It should be deferred.

    BOAR-22-08-0326 110 PHOENETIA AVE
    Coral Gables, FL 33134–331
    Mixed use development.

    This item is under appeal. It should not be considered under any “proceedings” until all appeals are exhausted as per City of Coral Gables Zoning Code Section 14-208.6/C which states:

    “An appeal shall stay all proceedings in the matter appealed from until the final disposition of the appeal by the City Commission or other Board with jurisdiction”

    This section, under the city’s zoning code, makes it very clear and without exception that “an appeal shall stay all proceedings.”

    BOA should be informed to defer the matter “until the final disposition of the appeal by the City Commission or other Board with jurisdiction.”

    Respectfully submitted,
    [NAME]
    [ADDRESS]

  16. First Ms. Cruz, please run for an office and get these horrendous leaders out of office. We need someone to run against the likes of the disappointment Lago and the build anything Commission. Second, every week it is another form of BS coming from City Hall. Here is another example as to why we need to get rid of the autocratic know it all City Manager. The deaf ears of the leadership in Coral Gables just continues, as they were elected to support the residents and they continue not to hear us and support the developers. Is there anyone who will run against Lago? Is there anyone who can take legal action against all the decisions that are being made against the City’s codes? The Mayor, Manager & Commissioners must be stopped !!!

  17. There is no gatekeeper at the city to protect the residents’ rights. It seems illegal and inappropriate for the city to allow the developer to move forward to the BOA. The code states clearly that all proceedings should stop when an appeal is going on.

    Please object to the BOA presentation on February 9 by showing up or writing to the Board of architects.

  18. There is no gatekeeper at the city to protect the residents’ rights. It seems illegal and inappropriate for the city to allow the developer to move forward to the BOA. The code states clearly that all proceedings should stop when an appeal is going on.

    Please object to the BOA presentation on February 9 by showing up or writing to the Board of Architects at [email protected] .

  19. Ms. Cruz:

    I appreciate your comments on this and other matters concerning Coral Gables. Why don’t you run for the commission or mayor? Given your seriousness and dedication to the City, many residents would likely welcome you joining the race. I know I would like to consider your candidacy.

    Sincerely,

    Hercules Mulligan

  20. If you think this is bad, wait until I get re-elected in april…..I will destroy this City one way or another…leave me alone and let me make my money. I have a really big PAC.

  21. Wow! I guess anything is now possible in the City Beautiful No neighborhood is protected any more; no rules need to be followed; codes were written to be ignored and/or adjusted to fit the developers wishes!
    Move away Brickell! All it takes in Coral Gables is a developer with deep pockets and high level connections to make it happen! Oops, do not forget the lobbyists, registered or not, and the smooth talking attorneys.
    Who is missing? Where are the real stakeholders? When are the taxpayers, the voters, going to wake up and say enough is enough and put an end to this excessive development? Would it be too late to stop the destruction of the City we all love?

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