Janeczek is a lifelong resident of Miami, and an avid gardener and plant lover.
Talk to someone who has lived in our beautiful South Florida communities for decades, and you will quickly learn that the character and charm of our neighborhoods is being destroyed by irresponsible development.
Although I understand that we need more housing and that there are benefits to growth, I also understand that developers are financially incentivized to provide cheap product all to the benefit of their pocketbooks. One shocking example is happening — in real time — in our backyards. Although time is running out, there is still an opportunity to stop this injustice.
Coral Gables is currently considering approval of a massive building on a quiet street in the North Gables. The existing neighborhood includes small one and two story structures, and the existing roadway contemplates providing services, including emergency fire and safety operations, for a small number of families. The Coral Gables Planning and Zoning Board on Wednesday Feb. 9th at 6pm, and later the Coral Gables City Commission will be conducting hearings to decide whether to permit the construction of this out of scale, monstrous building, that will run almost the entire block on Madeira between LeJeune and Salzedo. The building is completely out of scale with its surroundings, with single-family homes in the backyard and also right across LeJeune Road. Worse, approval here will set the precedent for this sort of low-quality non-Mediterranean development throughout the city. Sadly, two charming 1926’s garden-style apartment buildings designed by noted architect H.C. Schwedd that the City determined meet the criteria for historic preservation in 2005 are slated to be destroyed as part of this project, only to be replaced by this charmless, gigantic new thick block. With 143 units, housing several hundred new residents, the building will pour immense traffic not only onto Madeira but will further worsen LeJeune with all the traffic turning off and onto Madeira. Imagine the tragedy if an emergency vehicle had to make its way through Madeira with the morning gridlock on that narrow street. Clearly, this is a life and death issue as emergency vehicles, stuck in the overwhelming traffic, will be unable to timely arrive and provide aid. This is precisely the sort of irresponsible development that Coral Gables does not need, and so at odds with human-scale Mediterranean ideals that are the aesthetic hallmark of our charming community . In response to this threat, residents commissioned an independent architect to conduct a solar study to demonstrate the effect of shade on the neighboring buildings.
This new building will cast the contiguous single story structures behind it in shade all year long, a shade that will extend for blocks during the winter bathing homeowners on other streets in shadow during the winter.
Some will even loose the benefits of newly installed solar panels. We all prize the Florida Sun! How can it be taken away from us?
The reason that this building is being permitted to grow to such an extent is in a little known provision for
“Planned Area Developments” (PAD) for parcels over an acre that permits a developer to double the size of certain buildings if and only if, the building provides a “public benefit” including that it will be beautifully Mediterranean and contribute to the aesthetic beauty of the neighborhood. Although beauty is subjective and in the eye of the beholder, unbelievably, the Board of Architects approved this monstrosity of a building and found it to be sufficiently Mediterranean in style as to be entitled to a Mediterranean bonus allowing it to double to 143 units. Not to mince words, but this building is ugly, cheap, and the developer should not be rewarded for its transparently stingy efforts.
The Planning and Zoning Board is continuing to consider the project and we can only hope that the individual members who comprise the board will be fair and impartial. Shockingly, one of the board members is, yes, the architect of the building–a clear cut conflict of interest! After all, if this building is approved, this board member will profit immensely. We must not allow greed to destroy our neighborhood.
We the neighbors ask that the Coral Gables Planning and Zoning Board send this project back to the drawing board to re-imagine the building in a true Mediterranean spirit, human in scale, to be a credit to the City Beautiful. Please come Feb. 9, 6pm at City Hall or via zoom. (If you can’t attend, please send an email to [email protected] and your commissioners and be sure to mention 301 Madeira.) Please ask that the building be scaled down to a human scale. There are such powerful forces of profit and politics driving these enormous projects through, against what residents really want from their community. It will take extra pressure for democracy and clean government to prevail over cronyism. For more information see www.301madeira.com.