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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.
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%.
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.
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.
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.
- Bonnie Bolton Files Application To Designate Coral Gables’ Garden Of Our Lord A Historic Site; Owner/Developer’s Attorney Calls It An “Abuse” (September 13, 2022).
- Bonnie Bolton Appeals, Following City Denial Of Her Application For Historic Designation Of The 71-Year-Old Garden Of Our Lord (December 7, 2022).
- Future Of Coral Gables’ Historic Garden Of Our Lord Goes Before Historic Preservation Board This Wednesday (January 16, 2023).
- Following Historic Preservation Board Vote, Future Of Historic Garden Of Our Lord To Be Decided By City Commission (January 20, 2023).
- Developing: Developer Removes Plaques At Historic Garden Of Our Lord Before Appeal Complete, “As Instructed By The Commission” (January 23, 2023).
Images of the proposed project were taken from the project application submitted to the City by the developer.