UPDATED: Staff Ignores Moratorium, Pushes For Gifted Land To Developer At Wednesday’s Planning & Zoning Meeting

Ariel Fernandez

Founder & Editor
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On July 13th, the Coral Gables City Commission enacted a moratorium on new development projects that would require approval of Mediterranean Bonuses.

At the meeting, the City’s Director of Planning and Zoning, Ramon Trias, stated that the only current project that would be allowed to go forward if a moratorium was not in place would be Ponce Park Residences.

As previously reported on Gables Insider, Ponce Park Residences is a planned 179 foot 17-story tower with 161 residential units and over 18,000 square feet of commercial, at the corner of University Drive and Ponce de Leon Boulevard by developer Allen Morris.

This massive new development requires for the City to vacate University Drive, as well as use of a public alley. A total of 16,147 square feet, which would ensure the developer is able to maximize the Floor Area Ration (FAR, allowing for the developer can build a taller building.

Although the Commission passed the moratorium which is set through the August 24th City Commission meeting, staff has placed the project for consideration on the agenda of the Planning and Zoning Board for Wednesday, August 11th.

Multiple aspects of the project will be considered at the meeting, including the vacation of the City land. Trias is recommending the City give the land away to the developer, something Morris stated at a recent public meeting, was staff’s suggestion to begin with.

UPDATE: Trias is no longer recommending the vacation of the streets, but is still recommending vacating the alley.

The Planning and Zoning Meeting will be available via zoom on Wednesday at 6:00PM.

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18 thoughts on “UPDATED: Staff Ignores Moratorium, Pushes For Gifted Land To Developer At Wednesday’s Planning & Zoning Meeting

  1. Time to demand a recall of Vince Lago!
    Shady back door dealings because of higher political aspirations. “Scratch my back and all coffer your pockets for future bigger public positions” —- he’s trying to politic his way into Miami Dade Mayor status or even higher…. stop this madness now while we can! He ran on an anti-development platform; and FOOLED US ALL!

  2. PRESENTLY THE ZONING CODE IS 7-STORIES. THE PROPOSED “PONCE PARK RESIDENCES” IS MORE THAN TWICE THAT HEIGHT AT 17-STORIES AND ADDITIONALLY ENCROACHES ON PUBLIC PROPERTY [PART OF MERRICK’S HISTORIC CITY PLAN] AND SEVERAL LANDMARK RESOURCES INCLUDING THE HISTORIC CRAFTS SECTION AND A RARE 1926 WHITE WAY STREETLIGHT [ONE OF A FEW STILL STANDING IN THE AREA]

    STAFF IS RECOMMENDING APPROVAL OF THE REQUEST TO VACATE A PUBLIC ALLEY [THE “ALLEYS” ARE A PROTECTED RESOURCE UNDER MERRICK’S HISTORIC CITY PLAN.]

    PONCE PARK RESIDENCES WILL ENCROACH ON MERRICK’S HISTORIC CITY PLAN which protects “right-of-ways, parkways, roadways, alleys, open space, parks, swales, reservations, sidewalks, waterways…”

    AND POTENTIAL ADVERSE EFFECTS TO THE HISTORIC, ARCHITECTURAL & AESTHETIC CHARACTER OF THE HISTORIC PROPERTIES [AS PER THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR’S STANDARDS & NATIONAL HISTORIC PRESERVATION ACT GUIDELINES].

    The following historically designated properties are within five hundred (500) feet of the proposed development:

    – 2901 Ponce de Leon Boulevard, legally described as Tract E, Plaza Coral Gables, according to the Plat thereof, as recorded in Plat Book 173, Page 078 of the Public Record of Miami-Dade County, Florida.

    – 247 Malaga Avenue, legally described as Lots 26 & 27, Block 29, Coral Gables Crafts Section, according to the Plat thereof, as recorded in Plat Book 10, Page 40 of the Public Record of Miami-Dade County, Florida.

    – 205 Malaga Avenue RARE 1926 WHITE WAY LAMPPOST [A LANDMARK] in front of 205 Malaga.

    KEEP PUBLIC SPACES PUBLIC.

  3. I agree with the comments of Robert A. Burr.

    I believe the proposed development by Allen Morris on Ponce will be an asset to the City of Coral Gables.

    I have been a resident of the Gables since 1987 and believe the development projects through the years have added to the attractiveness of the City and ensure its viability.

  4. Mr. Feldman:

    You have always been thought of you as a petty and generally unserious person. With your comment, you have removed all doubt.

    Sincerely,
    Pete Money
    Czar, City of Cora Gables

  5. Norman Brothers just closed after 41 years. If the City is going to give property away, why not give it to an investor that will give something back for the residents and put in a fresh veggie market (imagine having the farmers’ market all year round) and butcher shop, as well as fostering the home town feeling a place like that would evoke. Besides, it could help feed all the residents going into the new multistory towers nearby. I could ride my bike to a place like that and pick up a head of lettuce and a chicken for the BBQ. Sounds more appealing than a 17 story block of bricks. Just a thought for a different direction as long as we are giving away property.

  6. CORAL GABLES IS NOT, BRICKELL AVENUE. THEY WILL PAY FOR THIS IN THE NEXT ELECTION, COMMISIONERS STOP FILING YOUR POCKETS, AND DO A BETTER JOB FOR THE PEOPLE OF CORAL GABLES , DO NOT INSULT OUR INTELIGENCE.

  7. mr. money:

    you write about the “City of CORA Gables”.

    I don’t live in “CORA Gables”.

    so, good luck to you and your strange city of “CORA Gables”.

  8. What part of WE, THE PEOPLE, do not want to change the City that we love do the staff and the developers not understand? The City, the staff, and the elected should not be in the business of giving away city land! It is very clear to check what the properties are zoned for, and of course what can be built on them as of right, BEFORE buying them. We have made it very clear that WE do not want anything other than what is as of right! No more gifts to the developers,ie. no more waivers, bonuses, GIFTS…… Any project that does not fit the property, should not even be entertained by any of our boards, staff members,etc. NO staff member should be suggesting how to achieve what the developers want. Our City employees should be there as gate keepers instead of greeters! That is what the residents have said multiple times! Ignoring the wish of the people could very well result in an outcry for a referendum, and worse yet a move to recall elected officials that appear to be deaf and blind. By the way, any elected official serving over one year could be the subject of a recall. All that we want is to protect our City the way George Merrick envisioned it! Is anyone in power listening?

  9. It needs to be spelled out in black and white.
    City commissioners are getting kickbacks in many forms and that is the only reason they are allowing the numerous oversized developments to take place.
    They are no different from the majority of politicians everywhere.
    “GIVE” A developer land? RIGHT.
    I am disgusted by voting for candidates who run on the Anti-big development platform, that once elected vote for big development.
    If a special election is an option to clean house and send a message then I am for it.

  10. No, no, no to this obscene development. Do the citizens of CG gave to take legal action against City Hall, The Commission and the City employees to stop this maddness. Do not care what quality of work Morris does. NO MORE CONCRETE !!!!!

  11. Mr. Feldman: You may not be aware, but the City of Cora Gables just came off of a grueling election. Calling a do-over because your candidate didn’t win is absurd. Making a stink about having an issue heard without knowing what the outcome is going to be is also absurd.

    I agree with most that this proposed Morris development is not what the area needs. But can we please let the process work itself out before we burn down city hall. All of the developments people are upset about were all approved years ago. This commission had nothing to do with that.

    Let the process play out. Those that do not want the process to play out are those political ambition that hyperbolize this issue to stay relevant. Yes. I am talking about you, Mr. Bathroom. You are a sore loser. Go away and try to ruin a third city.

  12. Allen Morris has a good reputation for creating quality space and good value for the city.

    It’s natural and quite expected for some good citizens to lament every development, every developer, every modernization and every improvement. Every resident and business owner has a right to air their opinion, but realize that our rules and regulations govern what a land owner can do with a property. It’s not a popularity contest. It’s not a beauty pageant.

    When I was growing up here, the Royal Castle and Keith Thurman’s Chevron gas station rested on these lots now under consider for re-development. Keith was a good neighbor — he helped my fix flat tires on my bike and later, helped keep my car running.

    I enjoyed the convenience of that Royal Castle with short walking distance of my home. I fondly remember Uncle Eric’s Happy Town toy store on the circle — but life goes on and this city has an obligation to carefully consider projects that might attract good businesses, product revenue to keep residential taxes as low as possible, and bring quality residents to the downtown area. It’s potentially a positive economic impact for all involved, if done with diligence and forethought.

    Yes, esoterically it would be nice to revert to the old small town, low-rise, low-traffic city we knew six decades ago. Far fewer cars and persnickety residents, easy parking for a nickel, our own bus system, cheap housing prices, a bayfront that was clear and clean. The tallest building was the abandoned Biltmore. The Morrison Cafe on the Mile and Jahn’s Ice Cream are gone. Woolworth’s is gone.

    We’re living in a modern era and we’re a modern city. We must carefully consider high quality development and reject the average. Fine architecture, not bland banality. Support our home town business leaders and those that have a track record of giving back to the community. They deserve our consideration and, when appropriate, our support.

    Leaders and staff at city hall have no logical basis, no incentive and no responsibility for denying good development. We trust them to carefully consider the details of these projects and make informed decisions. We elected them to do just that. Weight all the pros and cons. Let’s hear what they have to say.

  13. Very disappointing that the City of Coral Gables does not listen to its citizens. We will be living in a tunnel – cars and tall buildings! Sad!!

  14. How are we here again? This project single-handedly mobilized hundreds of voters in the adjacent neighborhoods to stop the development from overwhelming their homes. They all must be at the hearing and voice their opposition.

    Nevertheless, a referendum may be the ultimate answer since this City seems to be an instrument of especial interests. You ignore the residents at your peril

  15. Totally agree with Mr.Feldman comment. The commissioners are not listening to what the coral gables residents want. The max 3 story height for new development should be implemented, other wise Coral Gables will end up with monster construction like Brickell and that is not why we moved here. The over development has to be curtailed!

  16. City Hall has done it again. This time it has ignored the temporary moratorium.

    The “blue ribbon committee” had ADMITTED that a building over 3 stories CANNOT be designed as Mediterranean.

    Look around the City. See it for yourself. The monster over-development is more than 3 stories. It cannot be Mediterranean.

    So, how can it be stopped?

    Common sense says put in place a PERMANENT MORATORIUM on any building over 3 stories. Not one inch higher. NO EXCEPTIONS!!!!!!

    Who will put in place a permanent moratorium?

    Not City Hall because they won’t give up a lot of their power over public and private property.

    Not the architects because they won’t give up a lot of their big fees from the big developers.

    So, who is left? The concerned resident! Have a special election on a permanent moratorium for any building over 3 stories. It stops, once and for all, over-development.

    With a special election, there is no need for more “blue ribbon committees”, offering tiny, timid solutions. No more need for more public meetings where City Commissioners listen but fail to offer any solution, let alone the true solution, to over-development. No need in the future for politicians running for City Commissioner to make false, empty promises to end over-development.

    No more need for small groups of concerned residents to get together and sit for hours at boring City Hall meetings. No need for days spent by concerned residents to file a petition, pleading for City Hall to stop the insane over-development. No need for a neighborhood organization to toil in vain, sending email after email after email to City Hall about the monstrous over-development. No need for concerned residents to express their sincere thoughts and feelings in the Gable Insider about over-development.

    Based on over-development going on for a long time but City Hall doing nothing effective about it for a long time, I have concluded City Hall will never provide a true solution to over-development.

    So, how will this mess end?

    I recall a saying from the past: a big problem requires a big solution.

    The big problem is very obvious. The big solution is a special election.

    Many may hesitate and raise one excuse after another not to have a special election. More and more delays with tiny, timid solutions. As a result, not much later, before your very eyes, Coral Gables will no longer be the City Beautiful.

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