Opinion: Let’s “Garage” The Concept Until The Citizenry Has A Seat At The Drawing Table

Karelia Martinez Carbonell

Martinez Carbonell is the president of the Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables

The November 9th City Commission discussion centers on replacing the classic garage along Andalusia Avenue between Le Jeune Road and Salzedo Street and behind the historic Miracle Theatre.

Back in October, during the presentation from Gensler, the design and architecture firm awarded the project for an estimated $2 million, Mayor Lago observed, “This concept that you basically showed us evolves into the possibility of retooling the parking hub…”

The parking garage #1, in its present state, was designed to blend in with its surroundings. The concept for “retooling” the garage will not only clash with the area’s traditional surroundings, but will, according to a resident, “loom over Miracle Mile and obstruct the beautiful open sky along that block and along Andalusia, in the center of what is intended to be a charming district.”

The position from many residents and preservationists is for the city to share, in an open setting, various design concepts. Constituents, as primary stakeholders of a historic city, must be given the opportunity to consider the possibilities of “retooling the garage” and the implications. The proposed concept will cost upwards of $40 million and stakeholders must have a seat at the drawing table.

Several points to consider

The proposed concept bypasses the City of Coral Gables Zoning Code Section 10-105. This section of the code requires that parking garages be screened [i.e. cars must be hidden from site].  It does not mean partially hidden, but completely hidden as required: “Parking garage openings shall be screened from surrounding properties and rights-of-way to minimize visible interior lights and car headlights.” 

The proposed concept stands contrary to “preserv[ing] the traditional aesthetic character of the community” as per the Board of Architects mission.

The proposed concept does not adhere to Ordinance #153 which upholds maintaining the “harmony” of the architectural aesthetic of a community [i.e. the new garage will not blend in but obstruct the historical view shed of Miracle Mile; it will encroach on the skyline of the historic MiracleTheatre.] 

The proposed concept to replace parking garage #1 will cost upward of $40 million but the real cost will be the loss of the historic architectural harmony of the downtown area. Before planning for the future, a city must respect its past.  Consider the 1955 Gullwing. A timeless classic with wings to the future. 

Commission Meeting Tuesday November 9th at 9 am/City Hall or ZOOM

Members of the public may join the meeting via Zoom at (https://zoom.us/j/3054466800). In addition, a dedicated phone line will be available so that any individual who does not wish (or is unable) to use Zoom may listen to and participate in the meeting by dialing: (305) 461-6769 Meeting ID: 3054466800. If you joined the meeting via telephone, you can “Raise your Hand” by pressing *9.

 Time Certain 12:30 PM (Agenda Item F-7)

F.-7. 21-3306 A Resolution of the City Commission pursuant to Zoning Code Article 1, “General Provisions,” Section 1-104 “Jurisdiction and applicability,” granting Site Plan approval of a mobility hub, located at the site of Parking Garage 1, legally described as Lots 29 to 42, Block 2, Crafts Section, Coral Gables, Florida; providing for a repealer provision, severability clause, and providing for an effective date.


10 thoughts on “Opinion: Let’s “Garage” The Concept Until The Citizenry Has A Seat At The Drawing Table

  1. I can save the city a lot of money!!! Just repeat the Aragon Garage and add in your mobility hub. Stop being hostile towards the residents wishes for Coral Gables to be different, unique, historical, and traditional. We love our city, not Miami, not Atlanta. CORAL GABLES. CITY BEAUTIFUL. MEDITERANNEAN INSPIRATION.

  2. CLARIFICATION. The issue is not about the style of architecture but the concept. The proposed design of a 10-story glass & wire structure “garage” should not be compared to the Louvre pyramid. Garages are meant to be functional not fashionable or “pretty.” This particular concept disrupts the harmony of the historic district. Modern or Mediterranean does not matter. Yes let’s upgrade the garage by revamping, redoing, re-imagining what is already there. Has anyone realized that a demolition of Parking Garage #1—a large concrete structure—will trigger adverse and detrimental effects to the environment? According to a study by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the benefits of reusing and renovating buildings outweigh the benefits of constructing new energy-efficient structures. Demolitions release air pollutants such as dust, lead, and asbestos that linger in the air for years. Demolitions increase carbon emissions. If the goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the face of climate change, continued demolitions are roadblocks to attaining future carbon neutrality. City officials are you listening?

    And while I am on the subject, forty million dollars to spend on a “mobility hub” sounds frivolous when that money can be earmarked to restore the many historic landmarks that are in a state of decades-old deterioration and neglect such as the Gondola building on the grounds of the Biltmore Hotel, the Alhambra Water Tower, the White Way streetlights, the Venetian Pool, and on and on. Budgeting money for preservation is more like begging. The city will be celebrating its centennial in a few years, why not shift the dollars to where it matters most.

  3. Modern architecture does sit next to historic buildings all over the world as printed out by VM Mena.
    The existing Med style garage where Gables cinema is, does not look so pretty,!
    In the age of disruption, this might not be such a bad idea!

  4. As an abutting property owner, I am totally in support of the Gensler Mobility Hub.

    There is no time to wait, because if we don’t break ground by September, 2022 — a mere 10 months from now — developers take over the City’s most important two parking garages.


    Better, the state of the art SUNSHINE LIT UP DESIGN BRINGS SAFETY TO THE REAL SHOPPERS, WOMEN SHOPPERS, something dark Mediterranean can never do.

    These garages — 245 and 345 Andalusia — are the raison d’etre of my past 22 years of involvement in Coral Gables politics.


    Jackson Rip Holmes

  5. This parking garage or “hub” in its present design does not belong in Coral Gables. It won’t add to the City Beautiful but take away from the area. Mr. Iglesias please, you need new eyeglasses, maybe a good fit for Singapore but not Coral Gables. It should be more like the parking garage in Aragon Ave, a little more “Mediterranean” and not so futuristic in design, 40 million dollars down the drain!

  6. This building belongs in downtown Miami, Brickell, or the grove, or in any other part of the county that encourages this type of structure. For all its potentially economic valuable contributions to the City, it misses the mark, at taxpayer expense, with borrowed money from bond issues. It does not belong in Coral Gables — we have lots of Soviet inspired boxes to look at. We don’t need another one with our own money.

  7. What would you expect from a City that gets the award of the year from the Latin Builders Association? A Mayor who gets a hefty real estate commission from uber developer Moshe Mana?

  8. Comments on this item can be made during the public comment period after the presentations or at the time certain of 12:30PM.

  9. My wife (Vicky Busot) and I (Kavian Goharderakhshan) – CG redidents are absolutely against this $40+ million proposed garage! It’s against everything that is CG!

    You have mentioned two times for this meeting:

    Commission Meeting Tuesday November 9th at 9 am/City Hall or ZOOM

    Time Certain 12:30 PM (Agenda Item F-7)

    Kavian & Vicky

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