Opinion: Mediterranean Bonuses Should Not Be Free, They Must Be Earned

Maria Cristina Longo

Longo lives in Coral Gables in an urban 1920s home which she restored. She is an investor and a boutique developer who participated in the creative development team for the traditional townhouse rows: Almeria, Althea and Biltmore Row.

I am against the proposed development at 3000 Ponce De Leon Blvd; 216 and 224 Catalonia; 203 University Drive; and 225 Malaga because this project was granted the benefits of level 1 and level 2 Mediterranean bonus without having Mediterranean style design. It is obvious, even for the untrained eye, that the proposed project is not of Mediterranean style. Instead, this project’s style is a version of 1970’s modern architecture.

The Mediterranean Bonus Code was amended recently to prevent other styles of architecture, like this one, from benefiting from the bonus, including, but not limited, to the bonuses of increased height and FAR. The language in the code that said ” other styles” was removed.

Additionally, as stated in the city’s website “The intent of the “Coral Gables Mediterranean Architecture” design bonuses is to continue the support of George Merrick’s vision consistent with the established historic building fabric of the City and enhance the image of the City by providing a visual linkage between contemporary development and the City’s unique historic thematic appearance.”

Moreover, research in new urbanism and design has shown that keeping an architectural theme increases aesthetic harmony and overall wellness, and consequently property values increase. Furthermore, urban design that respects historical patterns and precedents creates an urban identity with a strong sense of
place. That is why neighborhoods in Miami who have a distinctive urban identity and branding have been so successful. For example, in Miami there is the Wynwood Art District, the design district, and downtown, including Brickell city Center.

The planning board’s responsibility is to be big-picture oriented by ensuring compliance with the zoning code’s intent. Moreover, our city has guidebooks on Best Practices to meet the Coral Gables Mediterranean Style Design Standards. I urge you today to please have the moral fortitude to reject this project as it is. Bonuses should not be free, and they must be earned. Please send the message to developers that in order to receive the benefits of the Mediterranean Bonus, their projects’ design have to be of authentic “Mediterranean Style”.


8 thoughts on “Opinion: Mediterranean Bonuses Should Not Be Free, They Must Be Earned

  1. Can you hear me now? A huge majority of Coral Gables residents are screaming the same song and City Hall employees, the Commission and Mayor are turning a deaf ear. What is really wrong with you people? We want Coral Gables to stay Coral Gables with no more construction, zoning to remain in place for all committed buildings, no gifts to developers like City property in the form of alley ways, no modern hub which is not in our City architecture, and no more telling us what is good for us. We want our City back and not one of you are supporting us. The entire leadership WILL be voted out next election as a ground swell is growing daily. Then we will make sure the “know it all” employees at City Hall are gone too. Mark our word, this is a promise.

  2. The solution/answer is Elementary my Dear Watson/ MariCris/ Neighbors: Just get rid of MED BONUS. If you have a rabid dog, you KILL the dog to stop the rabies. Let’s simply kill the MED Bonus.

  3. When did our elected officials stop doing what is best for this city and their constituents? I take my job as a voting citizen seriously and carefully researched the candidates and their views, particularly on construction, before casting my vote. It is so disheartening to see that either they haven’t had the integrity or the backbone to follow through on their campaign promises. No one currently in our city’s government will get my vote again. My daughter, who will be able to vote for the first time in upcoming elections, and my husband, as well as friends and neighbors, plan to follow suit. I will do my best to convince others to do the same.

  4. The charm of Coral Gables relies on George Merrick’s vision. How can it be called the Mediterranean bonus if it allows exceptions for other genres? It’s a shame.

  5. Why do these projects keep getting approved???!!! Isn’t anyone in City Hall listening??!!! We certainly are and won’t stand for this!!!

  6. I totally agree. Coral Gables was, is and should be kept as a Mediterranean City, that is what makes the Gables unique and how our founder George Merrick wanted this city to be.
    IF you want to built in the Mediterranean City of Coral Gables, you MUST build Mediterranean, NO BONUS, no exceptions!!!!!!

  7. The name of the Project I refer to in my letter is called Ponce Park Residences and the developer is Allen Morris. I am wondering why the developer did not hire architects like the ones he hired for the Alhambra Towers. If he knew he needed the Mediterranean Bonus to make the project viable, he should have hired traditionalists who have the knowledge and training to design authentic Mediterranean architecture.

  8. I agree wholeheartedly with Ms Longo’s opinion. The Mediterranean bonus should only be given to those projects that meet the criteria.

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