Opinion: Open Letter To Coral Gables Residents And Business Owners: Have We Lost Our Minds?

Maria C. Cruz

Longtime Coral Gables resident and activist. She has served as the Chair of the Anti-Crime Committee


For over 20 years we, elected officials, city administration and residents, have been part of a discussion about the need to replace our aging parking garages. Much discussion has been had, City Managers have come and gone, elected officials have also gone either by their own choice or by term limits. The possibility of a park, like New York’s Central Park came up, among other ideas. Eventually in 2019 Resolution 2019-96 was passed “allowing the City the opportunity to build a new parking structure…….and granting the staff until October 1, 2022 to break ground.” Why is this important? Because otherwise the project would revert to the developers as part of that same resolution.

The City Administration has had since March 26, 2019, to get this project on track. Yes, we were affected by the pandemic, but several times we heard from our City Manager say that the City never really closed, that everything kept going during that time. Why, are we now between a rock and a hard place? Why this project needs to be shoved down our throats without any community input?

More questions come to mind, doesn’t the City have to follow our codes and ordinances? Why do we need to ignore our code in order to build the proposed parking garage now called MOBILITY HUB? Did we not hear the staff say that the Craft zoning had to be adjusted not to overshadow the historical San Sebastian? Isn’t the Miracle Theater a historical building?

How will the City be able to deny private requests from developers asking for variances to build other structures on or near Miracle Mile that will be compatible to what it is being proposed now? Shouldn’t the City be the first one to follow ALL our codes and ordinances? Will the City be willing to fast track other projects as it’s happening with this one?

This is YOUR City, are you going to sit back and allow this mammoth futuristic “Mobility Hub” to be built in our City? Shouldn’t we have a say since we are going to pay for it at least $40 million dollars? Shouldn’t we have community meetings to express our opinions? Are the administration and Commission not interested on listening to what we have to say? Is this building going to be one person’s legacy at any cost?

We all need to let them know what our vision is for the City we love. Is it George Merrick’s or Walt Disney’s?
Please contact those that are involved, one way, or another with this abominable project, those who are pushing to make it happen, and those who have the power to vote for it or STOP it!

Petition

For these reasons, I have started a petition. Click here to read and sign the petition.

Here is how to get a hold of the decision makers at City Hall:

By email: City Manager Peter Iglesias, Mayor Vince Lago, Vice Mayor Michael Mena, Commissioner Jorge L. Fors, Jr., Commissioner Rhonda Anderson, Commissioner Kirk R. Menendez, City Attorney Miriam Ramos and City Clerk Billy Urquia (who should be copied on all emails as the custodian of records).

By phone: City Hall (305-446-6800), City Manager Peter Iglesias (305-460-5202), Mayor Vince Lago (305-460-5220) Vice Mayor and Commissioners (305-460-5304), City Clerk Billy Urquia (305-460-5210), and City Attorney Miriam Ramos (305-460-5338).

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14 thoughts on “Opinion: Open Letter To Coral Gables Residents And Business Owners: Have We Lost Our Minds?

  1. Disappointed by self interest of Mr Holmes comments. 10 stories now OK since it benefits your tenants. Also saddened by the politicians, et al, who do not realize that 10 stories is anti-Mediterranean, anti-Coral Gables. The glamorous City View garage in the Design District is only 7 stories tall!

  2. Dear Fellow Coral Gables Residents:

    You may know me from my being a perennial losing Candidate in City Elections, and from my owning property at 256 Miracle Mile, abutting the MIRACULOUS, NEEDED FOR OUR PARKING AND FINANCIAL SURVIVAL, EXTRAORDINARILY, BREAKTHROUGH TECHNOLOGY SAFE, AND INCREDIBLY BEAUTIFUL, MOBILITY HUB PARKING GARAGE AT 245 ANDALUSIA.

    I entered Coral Gables politics for ONE REASON, BRINGING A DEPARTMENT STORE TO POTENTIAL 245/345 ANDALUSIA PARKING GARAGE REDEVELOPMENT, to anchor low-rise retail on Miracle Mile. I have worked on this goal for the past 22 years.

    I have been a staunch opponent of runaway development.

    But I submit to you, the voters, and supporters / readers of Coral Gables and Gables Insider, that CRITICISMS OF THE MOBILITY HUB ARE UNFOUNDED.

    The Mobility Hub — thanks to the courageous 2019 votes by Vince Lago and Pat Keon:

    1. Does not give away citizen control of these parking garages

    2. to developers who want to ruin Miracle Mile with a 15 story office building

    3. The citizen owned Mobility Hub provides WELL LIT — SAFE SAFE SAFE! — parking garages.

    4. It prevents developers from destroying downtown parking, such that merchants abandon Miracle Mile for lack of parking. CRITICISMS OF THE MOBILITY HUB COULD DESTROY MIRACLE MILE BY HANDING OVER THE PUBLIC PARKING GARAGES TO DEVELOPERS IF WE DON’T BREAK GROUND BY SEPTEMBER OF NEXT YEAR, ONLY 10 MONTHS AWAY.

    5. THE CITY HAS DONE ITS HOMEWORK!

    6. THIS EXTRAORDINARILY BEAUTIFUL, BREAKTHROUGH TECHNOLOGY TO MAKE THIS GARAGE THE SAFEST IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA, IF NOT THE ENTIRE COUNTRY, PARKING FACILITY, IS DOUBTLESS THE ONE DEVELOPMENT IN THE CITY WORTHY OF OUR BELOVED AND SACRED CITY BEAUTIFUL.

    There is a lot more to say, but brevity can be a virtue. I summarize by saying, “FOR ONCE in too pro development recent years, OUR CITY GOVERNMENT HAS DONE EVERYTHING INCREDIBLY RIGHT WITH THE MOBILITY HUB.

    PLEASE HELP ME SUPPORT IT.

    Sincerely,

    Jackson Rip Holmes

  3. In the latest Gables Magazine where this building rendering appears there is also an article about the city going back to complying with a city regulation of new buildings complying with maintaining a Mediterranean look and design. I think this design is an aberration and contradiction to this city’s ordinance, regulation and policy. The new additional parking objective can be achieved following the previous mention if not someone needs to get fired!

  4. Yeah the Crafts section height was restricted in the recent 2 out 3 block rezoning what happened to the shafted 3rd block? the ancient, pre historic San Sebastian apartments whom from what i heard its owner/s justifiably wanted to demolish the property but city declined. Commish living on the block got 2 of his 3 properties re zoned.

  5. Gallant effort, Maria. But, what did you expect from a City that just received the award of the year from the Latin Builders Association? From a Mayor who just received a hefty real estate commission from uber developer Moshe Mana?
    Mayor L’Ego is importing Mana’s vision for Wynwoid into the City Beautiful.

  6. I bet Maria C. Cruz and her family will be amongst the first to visit and enjoy the new development!!
    Just as I’m sure they were at the opening of Merrick park

  7. I like the building as proposed. Looking forward to seeing it completed. The Gables has missed many opportunities for high quality architecture. It’s about time it moved forward with allowing new visions for its future.

  8. Compromise! If the garage needs to be replaced, it makes sense to make new garage 1 or 2 stories taller, but not so tall that it overpowers the historic Gables theater. So disappointed by neighbors’ comments opposing ground floor retail at the garage. Give the politicians the ground floor retail, but knock a floor or two from the tall monster they propose.

  9. Maria, I understand that …. you, Lucy, Eddie and others would love to build a 16′ foot wall around the “The City Beautiful” and maintain your fabled views and wishes for how this city should remain frozen in the George Merrick developer image. However, you can’t seem to understand and accept that this is a major municipality smack dab in the middle of Miami-Dade County and subject to its growing pains as well. This city has numerous major arteries which cut right through or border it: Bird, So. Dixie Hwy, SW 8th Street, LeJeune Road etc. Moral Gables should dilute its snooty and elitist notions and open itself up to reality. Our leaders have !! Good luck with your petition. NOTE: I agree with the comments made by “D” above.

  10. Maria I agree with you 100%. While I appreciate the concept, this structure is better suited for South Beach and not the likes of Coral Gables. Let’s revamp!

  11. Did they steal the design from Anytown, USA? Ugh, so generic, contrived and out of place. The City Was Beautiful.

  12. Your intentions are good; you’re wasting your (figurative) breath. All you have to do to be made to realize it is to look at the flashing/animated add above and to the right: “Jon (no “h”) Sullenberger, Luxury Real estate Specialist.”

    Any (more) questions?

  13. Dear all:
    First of all, I’m in favor of prosperity and growth as a community. Having said that, I think that we are planning too way ahead.
    In other words, our city is doing fine the way it is, and building all these huge buildings will place City Beautiful in just another big city in US with heavy traffic, crimes, etc.
    Just my two humble cents…

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