Community Wins: Wawa Withdraws From Gas Station Lease In Front Of Little Carver

Ariel Fernandez

Founder & Editor
[email protected]

The lengthy saga over the construction of a Wawa gas station across the street from George Washington Carver Elementary School seems to be over, as Wawa reached a settlement agreement on a legal challenge to terminate its agreement with Bahamian Village, LLC.

In an order entered by Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court Judge Michael Hanzman, the Court approved the Stipulation to resolve the claims by Wawa. The agreement determines that the contract between Bahamian Village, LLC and Wawa ended on March 30, 2022.


As Gables Insider previously reported, the issue stems from an agreement reached by the City with developer REDEVCO, in which the City would move the project forward without opportunity for public comment. Following this agreement, the City approved all plans without informing representatives from Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the School Board Member, the Principal or parents at the school. Instead the developer presented a list of approximately 60 signatures of neighbors allegedly supporting the project, of which most signatures could not be linked back to residents of neighboring homes.

In January of 2021, the Gables Accountability Project (GAP) filed a lawsuit against the City of Coral Gables, Wawa and developer, Redevco, challenging the proposed construction of a Wawa gas station across the street from George Washington Carver Elementary School. GAP is “a Florida non-profit organization supported by Carver parents and other members of the community.”

During the last hearing on this case in January of this year, Judge Hanzman rendered his ruling by stating that, “to the extent that agreement confers upon the City Attorney authority to modify or approve the modification of the site plan or PAD, it is self-anointed authority that has absolutely no legal effect because one cannot delegate to himself the authority that he does not have.” He then stated that the actions by the City Attorney were “blatantly illegal.”

Wawa’s Complaint

In its complaint filed in April, Wawa wrote that “the 2021 Lawsuit prompted Wawa and Bahamian Village to enter into a Third Amendment to Land Lease Agreement. That Amendment recognizes that the 2021 Lawsuit, if successful, ‘would adversely affect Wawa’s development of the Property’ and, therefore, provides that if the 2021 Lawsuit is not fully and finally resolved by February 28, 2022, Wawa may terminate the parties’ lease upon thirty (30) days prior written notice.”


In a statement, GAP reacted to the decision: “Sometimes, the little guys and gals win. This week, we received notice that WAWA quietly walked away from its plans to build a gas station on the empty lot in front of Carver Elementary. The surprise reversal came in response to a lawsuit filed last year by the Gables Accountability Project (GAP), a group of Carver parents and community residents who sued the City of Coral Gables, WAWA and the site’s developer for approving a gas station without any public input. In a parallel lawsuit, WAWA in February sued the developer, the Bahamian Village, to recover a $525,000 bond after giving notice it didn’t want to go forward with the project. The Bahamian Village initially refused and litigation ensued. Finally, on June 29, Miami Dade Circuit Court Judge Michael Hanzman signed off on a settlement by which the two parties agreed that the lease was formally terminated, as of March 30. This is a major victory for the grassroots community organizing against some deep-pocketed, politically connected business interests. It means there won’t be a six-pump gas station and convenience store less than 300 feet from Carver classrooms. However, the hard work isn’t done. GAP’s lawsuit is still pending and more important than ever: Its aim was never just to put the brakes on a gas station but uphold the public’s right to have a say on important land use decisions. The decision to develop a WAWA was the result of an earlier 2017 legal settlement that gave the City of Coral Gables authority to sign off administratively on modifications to the site plan, thus skirting public input—something Judge Hanzman said was ‘blatantly illegal.’ Originally designated to be affordable housing, plans for the 1.7-acre property have been repeatedly altered over two decades of failed proposals. As we move forward, GAP will redouble its support for other members of the community in finding the best use of land, one that honors the West Grove’s rich, threatened history as one of Miami’s oldest Black neighborhoods.”

GAP’s attorney, David Winker, said to Gables Insider that “this is a great win for the rule of law and for the community. It’s a shame Gables residents have to work so hard to get the City to follow its own laws, but we look forward to helping turn this into a win for everyone, including the Lola B. Walker Homeowners Association and MacFarlane Historic District residents.”

Trees Cut By Redevco

In a move to defy the City, Redevco had cut down all trees located on the property. The County served Redevco with a notice of violation for violating the County’s tree protection zone ordinance.

Winker told Gables Insider “we are going to fight to replace those trees that were cut down.”

What Comes Next

The future of the property and the project will now need to be reconsidered by Redevco. Redevco currently holds a mortgage over Bahamian Village, which has been amended nine times for a total of $2.3 million. A sum the neighborhood would have trouble paying back without a project on the lot.

The property is also Miami-Dade County land, which could still be retaken by the County. However, there is one potential option on the table.

Bahamian Museum of Arts and Culture

Over the last few months, members of the community, including Gables Insider‘s Ariel Fernandez, have been in contact with the office of U.S. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson regarding the possibility of using the property as the location for Wilson’s Bahamian Museum of Arts and Culture project.

In a letter to Coral Gables Mayor Vince Lago in January, Wilson stated that “last year, my office requested from Congress $2.2 million in Community Project Funding for the Bahamian Museum of Arts and Culture – a longstanding dream of the Coconut Grove neighborhood straddling Coral Gables and the City of Miami. With the support of City of Miami Commissioner Ken Russell and the Thelma Gibson Health Initiative, I recently walked the West Grove scouting for a future home for the museum. The creation of this center, in West Grove along with much needed nearby retail or affordable housing, would deliver both an arts infusion and economic development engine to the community.”

In a statement to Gables Insider, Coral Gables Mayor Vince Lago stated, “finding a resolution to this situation has been a priority for me. I appreciate Congresswoman Wilson’s proposal. I look forward to working with all parties to deliver a project/open space that compliments this important historic community.”

Until now, the possibility of considering this idea was difficult as there was a project and tenant contract in place. With the Wawa contract falling though, it opens a path for the City to work with Redevco and Bahamian Village to continue to expand on its high cultural offerings, by becoming the home for this important museum.


26 thoughts on “Community Wins: Wawa Withdraws From Gas Station Lease In Front Of Little Carver

  1. How is Ramos still employed? How does Lago keep allowing such bad people to lead our city…oh that’s right b/c he’s one of them. He takes credit for everything others do and is a two faced self-centered narcissist with zero accountability for his own failures. He points fingers and is as far from transparency as possible.

  2. Maybe Federica Wilson should confine her blind political ambition to her district. Build what you want in Miami Gardens. Sure do need a lot of urban renewal there miss hat lady. However the site indicated should be used for constructive purposes for the entire Gables community not a select few.
    If you cannot afford to live here, move to Miami Gardens and build what you want. Plenty of vacant land in need of renewal up yonder.

  3. How does the commission justify keeping a city attorney on payroll when a sitting judge calls issuances of said city attorney “blatantly illegal” And this only the latest negative observation?
    There have been numerous allegations about legal decisions made in the city’s name. At what point does the community have a say in who is producing these alleged legal statements.
    Some serious reorganization seems to be in our future

  4. The parents wanted a parking lot so they could park their 60k SUVs and walk accross to the school. This is an injustice to the real members of this community who still live there. What these parents don’t realize is that the land will never be what they want it to be. It will now be an ugly fence for a long time to come serving no purpose. The residents who LIVE there lost and the affluent parents who travel from long distances to bring their children to this school, won. Call it what it is.

  5. Congratulations David and Maria!

    Thinking Miriam Ramos should pay the city’s legal fees and David’s as well.

  6. D Winker, M Cruz & A Fernandez for city commission. Let Menendez & Lego run again so they can have their pants handed it to them in a landslide. Anderson true colors remain to be seen. Any newly elected official must agree 100% to remove immediately the old rot guard still in place.

  7. There will only be victory when Mayor Vinnie and Ruler Ramos are gone….anything less is just for show.

  8. Maria Cruz for Coral Gables commissioner. Many times, she is the one and only voice against wrong- doing in the City Hall.

  9. So the WHITE PEOPLE who have taken over both G W Carver Elementary & Middle Schools WIN!!!!!!! Are you people serious? Black children could only go to G W Carver for miles & miles! Only time black kids saw outside of their black only neighborhoods was to attend G W Carver!!! There was a gas station on that land way longtime ago and coconut grove had OLD SMOKEY INCINERATOR nobody cared about black folks health & safety! WAWA was a hopeful upgrade for GRAND AVENUE & Ken Russell is responsible for the mass evictions of over 140 units & more to come!! He’s upzoning acre of single family properties for a hotel behind the Big Blue Elephant aka Coconut Grove Playhouse! This is RACISM without any shame at all!

  10. The Judge declared that the actions by the City Attorney were “blatantly illegal.” How can the City continue to employ an attorney after that determination unless that is the point. Does the Commission need need a lap dog that will do its will without asking questions or providing sound legal advice? How much has this debacle cost us residents? How can an attorney with this declaration on her record continue to practice law. Should this be reported to the Florida Bar for appropriate action?

  11. Thank you, Ariel Fernandez for clarifying the complicated legal moves and keeping the issue in the light of day. The “little guys and gals” won surely by their refusal to be pushed aside. Unfortunately, unless the players change, there will be more of these battles ahead.

  12. How hypocritical of L’Ego to say this was a priority after voting for it behind closed doors and dissuading residents from fighting it. I wonder why this blog doesn’t call him out on it. As for Ramos, nice lady but she needs to go.

  13. Ariel Fernandez for Coral Gables Commissioner.

    That’s 2 out of 3.

    Only need 3 to control the new City government.

  14. Congratulations to Attorney David Winker and the GAP families on this momentous victory. Community Justice prevails over local government injustice. Coral Gables must now restore the tree canopy and park as they plan for future use as a long sought Bahamian Museum and/or affordable housing.

  15. I am stunned that a sitting City Attorney whose integrity has been called into question by a judge due to the illegality of her actions would still have a job. This also reflects on Mayor Lago’s political stance, after losing credibility with Gables’ neighbors by endorsing a scam artist like Renier Diaz de la Portilla for the August 23 election. Shameful.

  16. Thank you, Ariel, for consistently enlightening us during this arduous battle.
    Thank you, David Winker, for winning the battle and soon, the war.
    Shame upon Lago and Mena, Iglesias and Ramos, for conspiring against elementary school children.

  17. You all won nothing. You chased a great tennant out of an area where nothing else can logically go. And now we will look at the fence for years to come…. as for the first comment I do not recall any park with meandering paths… its been an empty lot as long I can I can remember. 🙁 bad win…. for no reason. Ps my daughter goes to carver and I support Wawa!!

  18. I love the idea of a neighborhood Heritage Museum and a park around it (instead of a parking lot). However those of us who walk every day past the moonscape left behind by this “project” know that we still have a long way to go to recover from this criminal activity. Where there used to be a quaint public park, a pedestrian path meandering through, and shady benches across from the school, now is an eye sore, a broken sidewalk, dust and rubble, and uncertainty…! Sadly those false signatures came from the very members of the “Bahamian Village group” and their incestuous relationship with REDEVCO, and many of these same individuals are still involved. The signatures could not be traced back to the neighborhood because most of these people no longer live here, are motivated by cash and certainly do not have the same vision that we residents (who have chosen to live here now) hold — celebrating a simpler way of life that used to be here.

  19. I agree with an earlier comment Miriam Ramos has got to go! How can she live with herself knowing that she almost put a gas station next to an elementary school?

  20. Fire City Attorney Miriam Ramos for her “blatantly illegal contract”, giving everything to the WAWA and taking away everything from the residents. She is the City Attorney for special interests.

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