On Thursday, October 19 at 8:30 a.m. the proposed project at the Garden of Our Lord located at 110 Phoenetia Avenue will be presented in front of the Board of Architects for the fifth time. The proposed design remains the same with a few inconsequential changes in architectural details.

My home is located on the block right east of the proposed project. In the past I have fought several projects to protect my investments; however, this is the worst project I have ever seen in my years living in Coral Gables. The developer for this project is extremely unreasonable and disrespectful of the city, its land, and the character of the neighborhood.

Among some of the reasons why this project should be rejected by the BOA are:

  • The developer is proposing to apply the same MX2 Urban zoning code used in the commercial Ponce De Leon Blvd to the North Ponce Residential neighborhood with extreme reductions of setbacks up to zero, and increased density to 200 apartment rentals and commercial units, and 350 cars.
  • This proposal is unfair, and unreasonable because the developer’s parcel is zoned Special Use (S) Institutional Religious and the North Ponce Residential neighborhood is currently zoned MF2, which has much larger setbacks requirements than the ones proposed.
  • This neighborhood is under the protection of the zoning code –Section 2-404 North Ponce Neighborhood Conservation District Overlay (NPCO) passed by the commission to preserve and enhance the garden apartment character of the North Ponce residential neighborhood.
  •  The project’s design, volume, massing, scale, proportions and site plan are completely out of character and not compatible with any ofthe architecture of the abutting streets, including the Historic Woman’s Club.
  • The developer is applying for a Planned Area Development (PAD) which gives the developer flexibility in exchange for green areas that will benefit the public. However, the project does not offer any functional, beautiful, and livable green areas that will benefit the public Additionally, the project does not attempt to integrate into the design any of the 100-year-old Oak trees found on the site. 
  • There is no infrastructure for the capacity and density proposed.

The proposed project at 110 Phoenetia Avenue is another example of how developers are entitled to ask for unreasonable changes of zoning that dismiss the intrinsic value of our land and our quality of life. Our elected officials must take a strong stand against irresponsible development.

Maria Cristina Longo

Coral Gables Resident

I encourage you to attend the meeting of the BOA at the following location and time:

Meeting Location: 427 Biltmore Way, First Floor Conference Room

Meeting date/time: 10/19/2023 at 8:30 AM

Agenda link is here.

Dear Friends


The BOA received 39 letters ( a breaking record) and 12 people spoke today against the project.

Unfortunately, it passed at the BOA with a vote of 3 against the project and 4 for it.

The 3/4 is a closed call, which helps us.  Some BOA members who approved the  project today think that the vote should be a zoning vote at the Planning and Zoning board.  I don’t agree with them, but this is how it went through today.

The next step, therefore, is to stop the project at Planning and Zoning.

Thank you for your amazing response. 

If we get that many letters at planning and zoning  and as many people to speak in front of the planning BOARD  as we did today, we have a high chance to stop it there due to the amount of changes in the zoning  that they are requesting.

Thank you!

M a r i c r i s   L o n g o

The views expressed in opinion pieces are those of the opinion authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Gables Insider, its staff or its affiliates. If you would like to submit an opinion for publication, please email it along with a photo and a two sentence biography of yourself to [email protected].



  1. It will go through just like Ponce Plaza and all the rest. Rhonda Anderson like Vince Lago promise things will be different but as soon as they get elected they get down in the dirt but one of them came back – Menendez by share self interest he joined the new commissioners to keep his job- all crap all the time.

  2. My email to Board of Architects and CC to all the commissioners:

    I believe this project, as it is presented, should be rejected because:

    – The developer is asking for a huge increase in height and density; this is far out of proportion to the rest of the neighborhood. This will make the development stand out like a sore thumb because it will be different in size and scope from the rest of the neighborhood.

    – The developer, as developers do, is asking for an extreme reduction in setbacks; and as the residents know, this is not for our benefit. This is so the developer can maximize its profit by taking advantage of every square inch on the property.

    – The development, as it is presented, will cause huge issues with parking and density; this will help ruin the historic nature and livability of the neighborhood.

    – There are no green spaces visible from the street.

    Why does Coral Gables continue to allow uncontrolled development?

    Why does Coral Gables allow developers to dictate how high to build and how dense to make buildings?

    Why does the Coral Gables favor developers and not its residents?

    Why does Coral Gables allow the historical nature of its various neighborhoods to disappear in favor of dense highrises?

  3. I live a block away from this project. I’m going tomorrow morning oppose this monstrosity.

  4. This is what I wrote for the board of architects:
    Dear Architect Leaders,
    Your profession, when not under the sway of rogues, is the most important in a civilized society.
    The environment is what favors or destroys a community’s ability to be the most it can achieve.

    I do not believe that any one of you could even think of agreeing to approve the egregious attempt by a developer to destroy a historic haven of peace such as The garden of Our Lord in order to line his pockets.

    Developers always come with bones, as if we were dogs, they promise little patches of grass while they are building a monster next to it.
    It is not what they offer, it’s what they are taking away that matters. They are away a historic site that could have become a park, the building could have become a place for presentations, even a permanent museum of the history of Coral Gables, a venue for concerts of artist and students from the nearby schools, and so on.

    Maybe it is too late. I am planning on going to the meeting on October 19 and hope to hear that you have lived up to what your profession is all about: a profession of service and enhancement of people’s lives, not just putting four walls together.
    Andres L Jimenez, MD

  5. Our old gables is long gone. Sergio Pino has paid very big bucks to Mayor Vinnie to get all these projects through.

  6. Almost every resident of this city has been affected in the last few years by a development that changes the character of their neighborhood and the city as a whole. Theses large developments overwhelm the capacity of the city’s streets to efficiently move traffic and are leading to a skyline that will soon resemble Adventura. It’s time for the city’s government to consider the impact of the changes that large scale high rise development have made to the look and feel of Coral Gables. Increasing tax revenue is all well and good until the point is reached where no amount of revenue can recapture the feeling of a small town or city, that was once Coral Gables

  7. I have an extreme opposition to the proposed development of the Garden of Our Lord site at 110 Phoenetia Avenue. Not only is this neighborhood currently designated as under the protection of the zoning code Section 2-404 North Ponce Neighborhood Conservation District Overlay (NPCO), the location is adjacent to the one-story historic landmark, The Coral Gables Woman’s Club, and surrounded by mostly single-family homes. This would change such a serene and typical Coral Gables neighborhood of yore into one of constant traffic and an out-of-place monstrosity for all to see every day.

    The developer is asking for a change of current zoning to MX2 (a combination of commercial live-work units and residential units), applying for PAD but not providing any green space for public access, and requesting the Med Bonus to allow 2 additional stories (an additional 32,168 sq ft). Why does Coral Gables have existing building codes if all developers request variances and most often receive them?

    We already have far more development going on in The City than we need. With every increase in population density comes an increase in traffic, waste disposal and water usage. Less green space results in more surface heat and less ground water absorption to replenish our aquifers. Just because one ‘can’ does not mean that one ‘should’.

  8. No to the project! Period! Dead veterans were taken out of their resting place to build this monstrous project!
    In addition, Crystal Academy will not have the green space it has now.
    All this smells fishy to me…

  9. Coral Gables developments have changed Coral Gables and this city is no longer reflects the special environment that made Coral Gables stand out as a city in Dade County. In the past it was know that CG was looking out for its residents. The city has taken a 180 degree turn and this has created an image that in CG the developers can have and do what they want. It has harmed the perception not only of the residents, but others in the county. When the city approves projects they are not looking at the big picture and are not taking into account the overall impact on the quality of life these project have on residents who live in single family homes, residents who live and 1-3 story buildings, the neighborhood the environment, the impact in increased traffic, only parking, pollution of air, lack of green space, NOISE level just to name a few. We are loosing the character of to better the few. The environmental impact of these tall buildings is heavily reducing sunlight/sun for people, animals and green areas. The blocking of sunlight from these buildings are also blocking needed air flow . With diminished air flow stagnates traffic chemicals affecting poor air quality making it hotter. The lack of unpolluted oxygen is affected by less trees, green spaces, (mostly concrete) heavy traffic and noise level. parking challenges in the north Gables area due to the design of this area for residents. These buildings are not designed for parking requirements as we know most apartments have more than 1 vehicle. The north gables in the north offers only street parking and cannot accommodate the spill over from these 200+apartments. I can go on but you get the impact. Please say no to this snd other project like this. Thank you,

  10. Project should be reduced by half. You can’t block everything, but you can insist that it be reasonable.

  11. Well said, Maria Cristina Longo. Thank you for stating the reasons why this proposal should be rejected. It will be a blight on our North Gables neighborhood and will change the character of this part of the garden district forever I live several blocks North of this project and plan on attending the meeting.

    This area is under a Commission-funded study and consideration for historic designation. The project will directly affect the preservation of THE GARDEN OF OUR LORD.

    Coral Gables, FL 33134–331
    Mixed use development.

    #1. This project is not in harmony with the North Ponce neighborhood. The developer bought the parcel zoned as Institutional/Religious and seeks a variance to build its mixed-use development. This area is under a Commission-funded study and consideration for historic designation.

    #2. The neighborhood is protected under the zoning code, Section 2-404 North Ponce Neighborhood Conservation District Overlay (NPCO). This code was passed to preserve and enhance the garden apartment character of the North Ponce residential neighborhood properties. George Merrick’s historic city plan refers to this area as the “Douglas Section.”

    #3. The proposed project’s density will have an adverse impact on the historic landmarks surrounding the area specifically the nationally recognized Coral Gables Woman’s Club and the Douglas Entrance .

    #4. The proposed project will directly affect the preservation of The Garden of Our Lord, deemed a cultural landscape by two nationally-recognized, prominent UM School of Architecture professors, and will displace the historic green canopy and heritage trees surrounding the property original to Merrick’s “garden city” planned neighborhood.

  13. As a tax-paying, home-owning resident of Coral Gables, if I want to build or remodel a home I need to pull countless permits and adhere to zoning and building codes that are endless and (every contractor warned me) very inflexible. I wanted a metal roof. NO! I wanted solar panels NO! Why on Earth are these developers constantly granted variances and deviations that we the residents are not?!?!? Very Annoying. and then Vince Lago tries to tell us how great a job he’s doing, and would be even better if not for Melissa and Ariel asking Questions. andoe this guy think we’re idiots? guess what?…. if we elect him again, we are!

  14. “Such a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation” is a Scottish folk song whose lyrics are taken from a poem written by Robert Burns in 1791, listed as number 5516 in the Roud Folk Song Index. It has continued to be associated with Scottish nationalism and also been referenced in other situations where politicians’ actions have gone against popular opinion.
    This was written 232 years ago.
    The lyrics and history are on the Wikipedia page.
    Steeleye Span performs a masterful version of the song, which is easily found online.
    Their version is called Rogues In A Nation.

    The song’s lyrics are in Lowlands Scots.

    Fareweel to a’ our Scottish fame,
    Fareweel our ancient glory;
    Fareweel ev’n to the Scottish name,
    Sae fam’d in martial story.
    Now Sark rins over Solway sands,
    An’ Tweed rins to the ocean,
    To mark where England’s province stands-
    Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!
    What force or guile could not subdue,
    Thro’ many warlike ages,
    Is wrought now by a coward few,
    For hireling traitor’s wages.
    The English steel we could disdain,
    Secure in valour’s station;
    But English gold has been our bane –
    Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!
    O would, ere I had seen the day
    That Treason thus could sell us,
    My auld grey head had lien in clay,
    Wi’ Bruce and loyal Wallace!
    But pith and power, till my last hour,
    I’ll mak this declaration;
    We’re bought and sold for English gold-
    Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

    Destroying The Garden of Our Lord feels like part of a curse sweeping over Coral Gables.

  15. Please write to:[email protected] if you oppose this project

    Letters make a difference and the BOA members consider them in their decision-making

    showing up and speaking against it is very effective!

  16. that a monster project like this is even taken into consideration for the area is scary. building right up to the street again… no space for a tree… probably only a hint of a sidewalk… no rain-water run-off, for sure… just disgusting. what is with these people…

  17. I am against the project. The area is overcrowded

  18. I have been a member of the Coral Gables Woman’s Club for 23 years. I am opposed to the development which is planned next door to our property as it is completely out of place in the neighborhood. East Ponce is very low rise and residential and to suddenly allow a 13 story building at 110 Phoenetia Avenue is out of prospective for the area. This is not Ponce de Leon Blvd. It is EAST Ponce de Leon Blvd.

    Our club house is celebrating 100 years this year. Our Centennial. Much of our income is from renting our historic building so we can maintain the building and support our Children’s Dental Clinic. With this development, our business will be affected by both construction dust and use of all our “free parking” surrounding our building. Not only that, but the Garden of the Lord will be destroyed. There are very old trees in the garden and some plants that are not replaceable. Living in Coral Gables, I have to obtain permits to remove trees, and only if they are diseased. Why is it a developer can come in and just destroy everything with no plan to replace it?

    This project is too large and too dense for the neighborhood. It will be destroying “historic green space” which it does not have plans to replace.

    Send the developer back to the drawing board and make this project fit in to the rest of the surrounding area, please.

    Thank you for your consideration.


    Robin V. Burr
    Centennial Chair – Historian
    GFWC Coral Gables Woman’s Club
    305-794-1541 cell

  19. All the neighbors around affected by this project should attend. I am not in that area, but I know it very well and I say NO to a BAD project.
    Unfortunately, I can’t attend, but I wish you good luck!!!!

  20. It is so sad to see how Coral Gables is changing it’s single family look to a developer’s big buildings one.
    That’s not the spirit of the City Beautiful.

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