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”.