Opinion: SAY No to 130 Almeria Avenue

(By Maria Cristina Longo)


The presentation of 130 Almeria Avenue in front of the Planning and Zoning Board was rescheduled for Wednesday, March 13 at 6:00 p.m. in city Hall. 

The developer of 130 Almeria Avenue is duplicating his “business model” from Eighth Street, Miami – here in Coral Gables. He is proposing a generic and unattractive 141 ft high building in an iconic parcel that merits an extraordinary project, especially because he is requesting double height.  The proposed project, as designed, will dilute the essence of what makes City Beautiful special. And, as designed, it will also have an irreversible and negative impact on the residents’ lifestyle and wellbeing.  Coral Gables residents have a different vision, values, tastes, and standards than the residents of other Miami areas –  the reason we live here.
It is up to the residents to demand better quality of development to preserve their lifestyle .

By Maria C Longo

Original Article:

I own a single-family house at 240 San Sebastian Avenue and I live at a single-family house at 16 Phoenetia Avenue. Both of these properties are located in the heart of the city.

For several years now, I have invested in residential neighborhoods walking distance to the center in our city because I love the city of Coral Gables and I enjoy immensely  the sense of community of an urban lifestyle.  However, in the last 8 years I have had  to fight unreasonable and unappealing developments to protect my investments and my quality of life. 

We are fortunate to  have single family residential neighborhoods walking distance to the center because people who live in these areas, like myself,  help the center thrive by using the services it offers, and by getting involved in order to maintain its character and value.

I oppose the project at 130 Almeria for the following reasons:

The developer for 130 Almeria Avenue is requesting a change of zoning from 70 ft. high to 141 ft. high in a parcel that is 43,267 sq ft. big.  And, even though the developer is proposing a park on Sevilla Street and he is also proposing to keep the small charming Amtrust Mediterranean building on the corner of Ponce, the footprint and height of the project remains too large. Additionally, the sizeable impact of a project of this magnitude has many negative implications on traffic, the infrastructure’s capacity and our unique branding.

The developer will tell you that his team can build “as-of-right” 70 ft. tall in all the parcel that they presently own without providing for a park or saving the small Mediterranean Building on Ponce. However, because his parcel is larger than 20,000 sq ft. in size, and due to its potential impact, the law protects the residents, and the developer must  go through the conditional use process for approval. Therefore, even at 70 ft high his proposed project is not “as-of-right”.

I understand that the developer needs to maximize the use of the land to make his project viable, and I also get why developers feel entitled to request such dramatic changes in height. However, the proposed project’s design is not attractive, it lacks human-scale and it is not pedestrian-friendly.  There are ways to design beautiful urban buildings that are built to human scale with attractive proportions and massing that incentivize the pedestrian to walk by, or even slow down to admire or  photograph the buildings.

This building as designed is not a building I would want to walk or ride bicycle by, visit or even photograph. 130 Almeria Avenue, if approved, will “knock off” the value of City Beautiful and its branding. I urge city officials to say no on Tuesday, February 20.

130 Almeria Avenue will be presented in front of the Planning and Zoning Board on Tuesday, February 20, at 6:00 p.m.

Maria Cristina Longo

Coral Gables Resident

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51 thoughts on “Opinion: SAY No to 130 Almeria Avenue

  1. I live a couple of blocks away, and I am in favor of this project because of the Park they are going to build which will replace the ugly parking lot. Yes, there is density, but not unreasonable for the area and the fact that they are keeping the building on Ponce and only developing the area on Almeria.
    I vote yes for this development project at 130 Almeria, because of the Park space and its residential units with no commercial.

  2. We don’t need another high rise in the city. We are congested enough as it is. There is no infrastructure to support this project. There aren’t enough public service officers to control traffic, enforce traffic violations and address petty drug use in the Coral Gables now. I live in a condo with rampant pot smokers: Coral Gables police does nothing but make excuses for the users although cannabis is illegal in Florida. Shameful! Start fining Uber/Fedex/UPS/delivery vehicles stopped in major thoroughfares blocking traffic and causing congestions, residents double parked and racing through the streets and enforce laws before bringing in more residents. This city is not going in the right direction.

  3. Has anyone tried to repeal the Mediterranean Bonuses? Kill the Med Bonus dog to stop the rabies!

  4. I think there are many opinions without justification doesn’t change my mind. Saying a design doesn’t fit the city beautiful should come with some reasons. There are some financial benefits to development. Anything along Ponce and Miracle Mile will be developed.

  5. The residents were deceived in the last election. They didn’t win, because the over-developers
    still control the Planning and Zoning Board. They give out Med Bonus as candy on their gravy train.

  6. The last election showed the residents clearly want RESPONSIBALE DEVELOPMENT AND NOT OVER DEVELOPMENT.

    Having Alex Bucelo and Robert Behar on the Planning and Zoning Board is NOT a “good look”
    for the City. Bucelo and Behar have shown they are for over-development. If they have some street sense and some integrity, they will both resign immediately.

    If not, the City Manager or the Commissioners must remove them.

  7. The internet also lists Robert Behar on the Planning and Zoning Board. He is a lawyer who represents developers.

    How in the world did this happen?

    Who appointed him to the board?

  8. The internet states Alex Bucelo is a member of the Planning and Zoning Board. Who appointed him?
    In the last election, Bucelo got thousands of dollars from out of town. He was for OVER-DEVELOPMENT.

    Why is he on the Planning and Zoning Board?

    We need someone who is for RESPONSIBLE DEVELOPMENT.

  9. How many members of the Planning and Zoning Board have been involved, financially or otherwise, in the Med Bonus projects they have approved?

    If so, who are they and what did they get?

  10. THE PLANNING & ZONING Board presentation was deferred to March 13 at 6 pm because there were only 4 board members to vote.

  11. First, I am not ashamed of my thoughts so you will all know who I am. I will not hide behind a cutesie name.
    The scale of the buildings built as well as those under consideration are out of proportion with the City.
    The proposed density is overwhelming our infrastructure. If nothing else, traffic and parking is horrendous. There are finite limits to potable water. I guess FPL can crank out the needed extra watts.
    The vision of George Merrick, as I see it is being bastardized. Yes, we need to grow, that is a natural consequence in today’s world. However, we do not need to dehumanizing or turn Coral Gables into a concrete canyon. The human scale is being lost. Please consider the esthetics as envisioned by Merrick and create a city growing comfortably into today’s culture.
    Please, let some common sense prevail

  12. I agree with Maria. We are loosing the essence of what Coral Gables stands for!

    Most concerning is the traffic impact of these new developments. Most of the traffic studies were done between 2019 and 2021; peak of Covid when many were working from home and the influx of new residents had just begun.

    Regarding the green spaces promised by the cevelopers, please take a look at ponce park, the developer had promised to revamp this park, still looks the same to me even less tress than when the project started.

    We need changes in the City government!

  13. I consider myself a “concerned resident” . In the last election, I voted for RESPONSIBLE development, not OVER development. I think many others did the same.

    I tend to side with Maria that OVER development is happening. I think it’ starts with the architectural board. An architect makes more money on a 10 story building than on a 2 story building. Lots of money is involved. Lots of money can lead to lots of corruption.

    Whatever the cause, it’s now up to the Commissioners to this correct this bad mistake. It’s also up to the Commissioners to figure out a way it doesn’t happen again. It isn’t rocket science, like landing a man on the moon.

    If they don’t fix it, I will vote for someone else who has the answer.

  14. Let’s agree that dissent to the editorial articles is not welcome. This entire blog is more of an echo chamber. Therefore posting dissenting opinions is in my humble opinion, a waste of time.

  15. Here we go again: old v. new; small town v. growing up, etc.

    The recent election indicated the clear choice of the concerned residents. It’s now a done deal.

    The problem is the architectural board and some elected officials continue to violate the done deal.

    Need to send them packing. Maria and all the rest of us will sleep better at night.

  16. Dear María Silva

    It’s activism and not cynicism that can make a difference. Great cities have had extraordinary visionaries behind. For example George Merrick and Haussmann in Paris.

    Greatness takes effort and we should expect an extraordinary project in this iconic parcel of land. Especially because they are requesting a Med bonus of double the height. A bonus is extra height and merits an extraordinary project.

    … Or, little by little the land and the quality of life is devalued


  17. With the toxic atmosphere at City Hall lately and the pushback on past projects, it’s natural to feel cynical about any and all new proposed developments. However, it’s crucial to give each project a fair chance and evaluate it based on its own merits to ensure we’re not overlooking opportunities that could truly benefit our community.

  18. Dear Joanna

    Thank you for sharing your comments

    I am not against development. On the contrary I am Pro development that adds aesthetic value, urban value and value in general to the quality of life of the residents who live near the project. Projects that add to our branding and become iconic.

    We all know how thoughtful development can create magical cities such as Paris.

    Let’s build a beautiful project with an integrated park and paseos and beautiful details that is also in scale – – a project that people would want to drive by or walk by. Let’s build great buildings that enhance our sense of well-being and make us happy!

    Do you prefer Kendall or Paris?


  19. I respectfully disagree with Ms. Longo. I support the project at 130 Almeria Avenue for several reasons. First, while significant, the proposed change in zoning is justified given the developer’s intention to incorporate a park on Sevilla Street and preserve the charming Amtrust Mediterranean building Ms. Longo mentions. This project appears to be lower and less intrusive than nearby recent developments.

    Additionally, the inclusion of green space in downtown Coral Gables is a welcome addition, providing residents with much-needed outdoor recreation. The transformation of the parking lot on Sevilla to a vibrant green space will enhance our city’s overall aesthetic appeal and livability. Overall, I believe this project strikes a balance between development and preservation, contributing positively to our community’s growth and vitality.

  20. Dear Dale
    I don’t think is corruption the reason so many bad and unattractive buildings have been approved and built. I think is due to lack of knowledge and:or lack of passion from our city officials. Also lack of great architects trained in urbanism to guide developers is another critical factor.

    The demographics in the Gables generally, with exceptions, value beautiful architecture and the small town feeling. We are not a small town any longer, but we can try to preserve our unique branding.

    We should have higher expectations and protect our city to preserve our quality of life.

  21. It is my personal belief that each and every one of these zoning changes are due to graft and corruption of the people we elected to represent us and protect us from the voracious developers who only want to build there massive project and move on. I don’t trust any of them.

  22. It is interesting to see how Traffic Studies for each proposed project impact our community and at what point is the cumulative number of cars residing in the City “too many”. Our roads can handle only so many cars and traffic is becoming untenable. When will the maximum number of vehicles associated with urban residential high-rise density be defined?

  23. G Lopez – that is your choice. Do you want the park and to save the building, for more height? Or do you want the entire property to be a building, and less height?
    You have the right to speak up.
    For the Developer it’s the same, and may be even easier to build out the whole Property.
    The question is, what do you, and the residents want?
    The answer can’t be nothing, fortunately.

  24. Dear Maria,
    Just because the Property is over 20,000 SF does not mean you can force the developer to build under what is allowed.
    If that were the case, all lots over 20,000 SF would be left abandoned and worthless because developers, property owners, and investors wouldn’t touch them. Is that what you want? Boarded up and homeless filled properties in your City because neighbors stopped any development on a lot over 20,000 SF?

  25. why are all these development s always asing for twice the height of the master zoning plan? Why bother having (& paying for!) a zoning plan that is always violated & ignored so egriously? it’s never a couple extra floors, it is invariably double the height. Im not against ddenist, bit come on.

  26. Martha, the Property has Property Rights to be able to build this building, just the way you have the right to build a single family home on your Property. Those Property Rights were already given a long time ago.
    How can you say what you are saying?

  27. Dear Jon Ram

    The developer has the right to ask. However, the law protects the residents. Because of the size of the parcel at 130 Almeria, which is more than 20,000 sq ft., and its potential impact, the law requires that the developer goes through the conditional use process to allow the residents to voice their concerns. Even at 70 ft high, the project is NOT as-of-right Additionally, we don’t have an urban park the size of Central Park in our central area to mitigate against the amount and size of development built or in the pipeline. Our city needs to be proactive and not reactive. Our city government needs to take risks and review, assess and make revisions to the city code to avoid developments that hurt our quality of life.

  28. Totally agree! We still don’t know how 701 Valencia (behind the David William Condos) was approved with zero setback in the alley. The building was supposed to have been only 7 stories and “apparently” they were able to add another floor for a “recreational” area, which makes it an 8 story building. I would love the 3 Commissioners that give a damn (Fernandez, Castro & Menéndez) to look into this. Fight and mobilize – that’s the only way anything gets done!

  29. It is sad to see such beautiful, calm, elegant, neighborhood become such terrible, nasty area. These developers along with politicians are destroying the city, and no one is doing anything about it. I am sorry for the lady that is saying we have to work 50/50. NO WE DONT WANT THESE BIG STRUCTURES.
    We pay high rents, mortgages for decades, some forever to be able to enjoy a quiet neighboring.
    The other day, on one of these humongous mammoth new structures a man was on the balcony in underwear. The people that moves are not good people, they just people that lives there because one way or another have been able to afford those high rents.
    WHY DONT THEY GO BUILD IT IN GABLES BY THE SEA? OR GABLES STATE OR COCOPLUM, OR THE BISCAYNE BAY SEA AREA. It is downtown Gables and the areas around the ones the politicians are trying to destroy to enhance their pockets.

  30. Who gave this monstrosity the Mediterranean bonus? Bonus has become a joke or maybe it was always intended as a joke on us.
    Just goes to show how deep the tentacles of our swamp run.
    Let’s pray Kirk votes no!

  31. The developer can either build the entire property or save some area for a park and a building and go a little higher. At the end of the day they will build same square footage.
    The neighbors get to decide.
    If they build out the whole site, they complain that they are building out the whole site and it’s too bulky.
    If they save space for a park, and ask to build upwards, they complain it’s too tall.
    The developers have property rights also, which were created by the city with residents approval.

    What do you want?

    – John Ram

  32. I just received a request.

    How did the Architectual Board get tickets on the gravy train when it approved the over-developers building?

    Anyone with information?




  34. I am a homeowner and resident of Coral Gables and would not oppose 122 new apartments at this location. The building looks just like some of the mid-2000’s condo developments in the immediate area, but instead of being sold to speculators and investors (in addition to full time residents of course), apartments that are quality non-luxury rentals provide value to the local economy and help the professional workforce shorten their commute. This is not an outrageous or inconsistent property, I say go for it if the numbers work.

  35. One can complain all they want about these MONSTER projects, the real gist of the matter is that our politician’s and current city government is on the take with there developers. Until we don’t address the real issue it’s a free for all.

  36. Dear Fellow Coralinians
    I cannot vote no. I love the cozy small city beautiful a lot however I also see we need more economic activity. Can we combine both successfully? I’m asking my 24 year old grandson, who is studying architecture with emphasis on urban planning plus he is also a beautiful old soul with genius artistry.
    Will get back to you soon With love and gratitude

  37. As a resident of this neighborhood for more than 30 years I. A tell you that the Almeria project is a HUGE mistake. Traffic is already horrible as it is. There is still a lot of inventory that nobody can afford and they want to build more?! For whom? NO to Almería and NO to these huge projects that are DESTROYING the integrity of what always made this area of the City Beautiful it’s Heart. Please DONT build that monster

  38. This developer built 2 rental complexes, one by domino park in little Havana and another one in Coral Way. He is now bringing his “business model” to our neighborhood, it will forever change the area. This is the City Beautiful, let’s remind them where we live and why we live here! It is on us! If we sit back and let this happen. SHOW UP TODAY! 6:00 pm City Hall.

  39. ahh what happened with the “freedom” you fill your mouths with every 4th of July ?
    It’s simple guys, the only reason why you are able to invest in this area is because you millionaires are already “over-developing” in other areas, causing the same pain that you suffer now to other people, you probably “over-charging” your clients, if you are an attorney, a CPA, work in finance, or “over-charging” your patients if you are a doctor millionaire. So now, celebrate that an investor, bigger than you, is exercising their freedom on you, and keep “over-charging”your victims so you can keep investing in a different place.

  40. Hello
    I am not against development. I am pro beautiful development that adds to our branding and value to our lifestyle.

    The height and size should be reduced!
    The project also received the Mediterranean Bonus and it is not Mediterranean or classical in style.

  41. Over development. Someone is getting rich and it is not the Coral gables residents Almeria

  42. i disagree with you. i think central gables between douglas and le jeune should be high density north of University.

    i also live on Almeria just west of Le jeune. i walk everywhere. i don’t enjoy walking by parking lots and empty restaurants. we need more density in the heart of the city.

  43. I completely agree that these huge over-developments are ruining our City. They have to be denied. The same for The Mark that is – besides going to ruin our neighborhood by Jaycee Park – is also going to ruin the manatee habitat on the Canal.

  44. Maria I feel sorry for you but the developers always win in some form- look at the mess across from Ponce Plaza- that apartment building will be built too- we fight and lose – 100% of the time- except maybe for the mobility center. Good Luck!!

  45. Too much over-development. The City beautiful is becoming the City of over-developers.

    The Commissioners must stop this project. Anyone who approves it will not be re-elected.

    Concerned residents prevail!!!

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