OPINION Update: – Court Orders Permanent Stay of Demolition on 1208 Asturia Avenue

By Dr. Karelia Martinez Carbonell, Local Preservationist

On July 30 the Appellate Division of the 11th Judicial Circuit issued a permanent stay on the City of Coral Gables releasing a demolition permit for 1208 Asturia Avenue.  This will prevent the owner, Lourdes Valls, from receiving the permit she applied for to demolish the historic home.  The stay is in effect until resolution of the case before the Appellate Division.

David Winker, the attorney for neighboring property owner Maria V. Cerda who is appealing the City Commission decision not to historically designate 1208 Asturia Avenue, said that the permanent stay was a significant victory for preservation because Ms. Cerda’s claims that the City Commission didn’t follow its historic preservation laws would become moot upon demolition of the home and that such a stay is based upon the court’s determination of likelihood of success on the merits.

Attorney Winker, who represented residents in their recent court win to preserve the Coconut Grove Playhouse by defeating Miami-Dade County’s plan to demolish over 80% of the historic building, said that this case would likely take about the same amount of time- 13 months.

“In light of the stay and the likelihood of success of this appeal, we have reached out to the Valls to discuss selling this home to someone who wants to restore this home in accordance with the recommendations of the City of Coral Gables Department of Historic Resources.  The historic preservation community and concerned residents in the Gables want to be good neighbors and work with the Valls to find a Win-Win so that they can find a new property to build for their daughter in the Gables.”

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7 thoughts on “OPINION Update: – Court Orders Permanent Stay of Demolition on 1208 Asturia Avenue

  1. I suspect had the house been owned by anybody else but the Valls family, the house would have been demolished. A ranch house, historic? Preposterous.

  2. The City’s Historic Preservation Ordinance was enacted to protect our neighborhoods and the distinctive characteristics of our homes. That is what makes Coral Gables such a special place to live, and what protects our property values. That is why so many concerned residents are watching this case carefully. We support historical preservation, we want to protect our neighborhoods, and we want rules followed and applied to residents equally and fairly.
    1208 Asturia easily qualified for designation under three criteria in the City Code, and the City’s Historical Resource Department issued an exhaustive report that outlined the reasons why. So what happened?
    I just read the “Reply in Support of Petition for Certiorari” filed yesterday in this case. It can be obtained online from the public court docket records and outlines the reasons in detail. The various decisions failing to find the property qualified for historical designation and disregarding the Code, were not based upon competent substantial evidence, but rather were based upon political pressure.
    Regardless of differences of opinion about the aesthetics of 1208 Asturia, unquestionably all conscientious citizens should be extremely disturbed by this process and the ordinance violations.
    Thank you Ms. Cerda and Mr. Winker for pursuing this legally. Thank you Commissioner Mena and Commissioner Keon for voting to support the City’s Historical Resources Department findings. Your extraordinary efforts to protect our historic preservation rules and the fairness of legal processes are greatly appreciated. We all want to be able to live together as good neighbors, and to be able to feel secure in enjoying our special Coral Gables community with its unique historical heritage.

  3. kudos to everyone involved in saving this house, from the lawyer Winker to the neighbor Vicki Cerda and all the preservationists and concerned residents. This is the classic case of “different rules” for the Mayor’s buddies. Shame on Mayor Valdes-Fauli for recusing himself and then acting as a lobbyist for the Valls and shame on Vice Mayor Lago for giving a great speech about how what the Mayor did was all wrong… and then voting to allow demolition. This whole deal stinks and I hope the Judge throws the book at all of them.

  4. It is unfortunate that this process has been so lengthy and unpleasant for all involved. It could have been resolved as soon as the question was raised. The rules are so clear, nothing vague about them. If the house meets any ONE of the criteria for historic designation, it SHALL be designated. This home meets several criteria. Why is this so complicated? Perhaps our mayor can answer that.

  5. Sounds to me more like the stay was granted due to the likelihood of irreparable harm if the house is torn down. Obvious. It’s a shame vested interests would leverage the court’s preliminary stay to wrest this home from the successful buyer. The opinion writer’s description as historic is one invested person’s opinion. The City will ultimately prevail.

  6. It really is amazing how this has turned around. The City seemed dead set on demolishing this house and then this attorney Winker got involved and it looks like the court may force the city to actually follow its own laws. This whole thing stinks with corruption with the Mayor owing a favor to his political contributors the Valls and trying to convince everyone that this house needs to be demolished.

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