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Grove Square Condominium, a pristine peach-colored tower just a few blocks from CocoWalk, is the kind of place an empty-nester might settle into a quiet life of coddling small dogs and dining at so-so chain restaurants. But lately things haven't been so quiet.
Two Thursdays ago, resident Teresa Valdes awoke suddenly to a loud noise around 11:30 p.m. To Valdes, it sounded like someone was hosting an all-night salsa dancing competition in the empty unit below. Latin music rumbled, she says. Men carried in giant amps and microphones. And the bass was enough to send 51-year-old resident Monika Ramos's makeup bottles toppling from a bathroom shelf. (Cops arrived shortly thereafter to respond to a noise complaint.)
"Owners are running an illegal nightclub below us," Valdes says. "It's big money, and they're trying to see what they can get away with."
For years, Grove Square residents have been fighting plans from the owners of Unit A to put a dance club in the mixed-use building. They've already endured one club, called Quench, which opened in 2003 and shut down about two years ago, when the Grove didn't have its 3 a.m. alcohol cutoff. Residents say that during that time, the quiet neighborhood sometimes seemed like a ghetto wasteland: There were bloody, drunken bar fights; syringes in the hallways; and arson from a Molotov cocktail tossed at the venue.
Attorney Louis Terminello — who represents Florida Grove LLC, the owners of the unit in question —promised at a May 2007 city zoning meeting that the new tenants wouldn't be troublemakers and that his "clients didn't intend to run anything resembling a nightclub," according to the Miami Herald.
Terminello now seems to be reneging a tad. He says the Latin music came from a to-be restaurant/bar that has been testing its sound system. "These people are just being paranoid," he says. "It's all bogus caca." He adds that the Grove is becoming a "ghost town" thanks to "white American elitists."
But 11-year resident Michael Lauter isn't buying it. "You've got lights all over the ceiling, a dance floor, no tables, and a massive sound system. Does that sound like a restaurant?"