Baños is the Editor of Gables Insider
The Alfred Browning Parker Foundation for Historic Preservation recently wrote to the City of Coral Gables requesting the involvement of our government in the preservation of the 140 Arvida Pkwy historic property. The email and letter state as follows:
Mr. Juan Riesco, City Architect:
We are contacting you to communicate our deep concern over the proposed demolition of the iconic home designed by renowned architect Alfred Browning Parker, located at 140 Arvida Pkwy, Coral Gables, Florida. Attached to this email is a letter to the owner and his real estate trustee expressing our concern, and urging them to delay demolition of the landmark property.
The Arvida Pkwy home is one of the most celebrated, internationally renowned, Midcentury homes ever built in Miami-Dade County, designed by Alfred Browning Parker for his family in 1963. The home was the prized House Beautiful Magazine Pace Setter 1965, and embodies the distinctive characteristics of South Florida’s midcentury period, an architectural masterpiece possessing rare artistic value.
We understand the landmark was purchased by Mr. Felix Sorkin on August 23, 2023 for $36,000,000 through the “140 Arvida Parkway Trust”, represented by Almazan Law. As the Executive Director of The Alfred Browning Parker Foundation for Historic Preservation, I hope the board recognizes the importance of the Arvida Pkwy home for the community of Coral Gables, South Florida and as a model for future architects. Parker was arguably the best-known and most influential Midcentury Modernist residential architect, gaining fame for his highly published modern houses in Florida, as well as nationally and internationally.
Though Parker died in 2011, the house he designed, built, and lived in at 140 Arvida Pkwy survives. The loss of this extraordinary home would be an irreparable loss to the history of Florida, American and world architecture. The Alfred Browning Parker Foundation for Historic Preservation urges that the cultural resource provided by the Parker house be preserved, and that the City of Coral Gables impose a delay on the demolition permit application so that farther-reaching plans can be made between the owner and interested groups for preservation of this cultural treasure.
Please contact us at your earliest convenience to discuss this important project. Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Lebritia Parker Kendrick
The Alfred Browning Parker Foundation for Historic Preservation
THE RESPONSE OF STAFF:
Subject: RE: 140 Arvida Parkway Trust – Historical Resources
Thank you for reaching out to us regarding this very significant property.
We appreciate and share your concern. As you may be aware, the State of Florida has passed legislation that preempts us from stopping the demolition.
Please see attached Resolution taken by the City Commission officially opposing the changes made to Florida Statutes.
Thank you again for sharing your concerns with us.
Douglas A. Ramirez, MS, PE, FRSE
Deputy Director for Development Services
City of Coral Gables
427 Biltmore Way
Coral Gables, FL 33134
(305)476-7239 direct dial
Editorial: Perhaps our City should provide more than a defeatist single sentence answer by a deputy to an invitation to try and preserve the historic heritage of not only Coral Gables, for South Florida more broadly. At the very least our government should attempt to engage the Texans and determine what can be done to preserve this property. Even if the present owners are irrevocably tethered to their destructive ends, we should explore the possibility of salvaging any reusable portions of this home or facilitate its incorporation in any modifications of the structure by the purchasers. In other words, the default attitude should be more than a shrug and a white flag.
The City’s Resolution of 2022 States as follows: