By Dr. Karelia Martinez Carbonell, Local Preservationist
At the October 21st meeting of the City’s Historic Preservation Board, the final outcome on the landmarked Fink cottage with its coral rock foundation was sealed. In a 7-2 decision, the Board voted to deny the owner a Certificate of Appropriateness “for the property at 603 Minorca Avenue, a Local Historic Landmark. The application requests design approval for the relocation of the residence, an addition, and site work.”
Board member John Fullerton made the motion to deny relocation, seconded by Alicia Bache-Wiig. The record reflects the breakdown of votes: Voting to deny relocation were: Chairperson Albert Menendez, Vice-Chairperson Cesar Garcia-Pons, Alicia Bache-Wiig, Xavier F. Durana, John P. Fullerton, Bruce Ehrenhaft, Raul R. Rodriguez; voting to allow relocation: Margaret “Peggy” Rolando, Dona Spain.
The Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables is pleased with the outcome. The organization lent its support to aggrieved neighbors as they battled to save 603 Minorca, the 1922 cottage which faced a dubious future if the City granted the relocation of the landmark. For the first time, the organization added a new social media platform to its campaign strategy in order for neighbors to push the information to more people. The neighbors created a petition that stated the issue and asked for support. The petition was uploaded to the change.org platform. In less than 24 hours, over 100 signatures were received with a final count of close to 800 signatures in support of the petition by the October meeting.
The 7-2 vote was a welcomed sigh of relief for the neighbors as well as the preservation community in Coral Gables. It reaffirmed the importance of neighbors speaking up on behalf of their neighborhood. The petition’s final paragraph states, “The collective voices of a significant number of concerned neighbors will help prevent this compromise of the historic and structural integrity both of this important century-old landmark, and of the ambiance and cohesiveness of all of our beautiful neighborhoods. Moreover, it will also be a statement of concern against this troubling trend of inappropriate alterations- and even demolitions- that undermine the intent and spirit of Coral Gables’ nationally respected commitment to the protection and preservation of its unique architectural and community heritage.”