Coconut Grove Playhouse Settlement Delayed Again Over Debts Between Board and Creditor

If you're going to lend hundreds of thousands of dollars to someone, you think you'd at least keep a receipt.

But disputes over who owes what to whom are the latest roadblock in the Coconut Grove Playhouse settlement, according to the Miami Herald. Development group Aries claims they've given over $2 million to the playhouse's board of directors, while the board contends that Aries owes it more than $900,000 in unpaid rent.

Neither side seems willing to budge -- and that likely means an even longer wait for the Coconut Grove residents who staged a "Give It Back" protest in support of reviving the playhouse earlier this month.

As we reported earlier, the playhouse has sat empty in a state of limbo since its board closed it in 2007. According to a deed restriction, the state of Florida has the authority to reclaim the property from the board, because it's no longer being used for theatrical productions. But the debt associated with the property is so high that nobody -- not the state, not Miami-Dade county, and not any private investors -- is willing to shoulder it.

County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, in an effort to settle a portion of that debt, offered Aries $250,000 as a settlement. Aries rejected the deal.

So, what now? Aries is drawing up documentation of its playhouse-related expenditures; the county can't say for sure whether it'll be able to increase its offer; and the playhouse itself is, well, in pretty much the same position it's been in for the past six years: empty, run-down, and without much hope of recovery.

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Ciara LaVelle is New Times' former arts and culture editor. She earned her BS in journalism at Boston University and moved to Florida in 2004. She joined New Times' staff in 2011.
Contact: Ciara LaVelle