Coconut Grove Playhouse Ownership Could Revert to the State of Florida Next Month

See Coconut Grove Residents Demand Playhouse Board "Give It Back"; Coconut Grove Playhouse Settlement Delayed Again.

The State of Florida will give the Coconut Grove Playhouse 30 days to get its affairs in order before reclaiming the property.

The Miami Herald reports that Al Dougherty, deputy secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, sent a letter to playhouse board chair Shelly Spivack alerting her of the state's deadline. The letter did not specify what Florida intends to do with the property once it's under state control.

In 2004, the state gave playhouse ownership to the board on the condition that it remain an operational theater. The playhouse has been closed since 2006 due to mounting debt, which gives the state the right to reclaim it.

Playhouse board member Jorge Luis Lopez told the Herald that the new deadline could inspire the playhouse board and its creditors -- developer Harry Pino and Aries Group -- to come to a compromise, saying, "We will get together as a board and see what this means."

But Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giminez, who's been attempting to settle the disputes between the playhouse and its creditors for months, told the Herald that the situation had reached a frustrating standstill, and that letting the state exercise its right to resume ownership of the property is "probably the best course of action." The state could offer the playhouse to a state university, state college, or local government as a surplus property. Miami-Dade County has earmarked $20 million for the restoration of the building. The state could also keep its ownership and outsource playhouse management to a local organization.

Whatever the state of Florida decides to do with the playhouse, it could hardly be worse than its current situation. The 1927 building has been closed since 2006, is unkept and crumbling, and has been vandalized and burglarized several times in recent years. It's been called everything from an eyesore to a safety hazard to pedestrians. In April, Coconut Grove protesters calling for the building's reopening rallied at the playhouse and wrapped the structure in yellow ribbon.

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