Yesterday, a group of about 100 Coconut Grove residents rallied at Grove Spot to "Stop Grove Bay."
In case you're not up on your local politics, this is the newest incarnation of the plan to demolish Scotty's Landing, Chart House, and the adjacent Grove Key Marina and replace them with retail shops, restaurants, a marina, and parking.
The current plan is the only one submitted to the City of Miami's request for proposals (one other developer dropped out). Grove Bay Investment Group is planning more than 100,000 square feet of space.
I'll be honest. I haven't read over the entire RFP. What you should also know is that I am a huge supporter of Scotty's Landing and I am a Grovite. So it would stand to reason that I am a concerned citizen with a dog in this fight.
I went to the rally to get more information (and to "save Scotty's Landing"). I walked out with a headache after listening to a bunch of men complain about Commissioner Marc Sarnoff and the fact that he thinks he owns Miami. Concerned citizens such as myself who dared to ask questions or disagreed were shot down. That turned me off.
The rally was hosted by Stop Grove Bay, a coalition formed to put an end to the project and persuade Miamians to vote "no" in the next general election.
They state that the project will increase traffic and crime in the Grove and that the plan will further depress already-struggling businesses. They oppose the 80-year lease and a stipulaton that the restaurants currently proposed for the site (Shula's, Oceano, and Hangar 42) can be withdrawn, changed, or subleased.
But this is just logical. It's an 80-year lease.
Frankly, speaking as someone who lives in Coconut Grove, I see plenty of vacant storefronts and restaurants that do business only on the weekends. I shop at Fresh Market almost nightly and run past the site of the proposed area that the "Stop Grove Bay" people call "magnificent bayfront land" and think to myself: What a freaking waste of good waterfront property.
Maybe this Grove Bay deal isn't the best, but as a Grove resident, I know something has to be done with this land. It shoudn't be left to rot.
Instead of the same old residents calling foul on the same politicians, maybe everyone should try to come up with a solution to get more businesses into the Grove. Shockingly, one of the "old guard" of Grovites who was my realtor when I moved to this gorgeous part of Miami told me that she never eats in the Grove but chooses to drive to South Miami and Coral Gables for dinner.
Maybe that's because we need to attract some quality restaurants and shops. And maybe a gorgeous multi-use waterfront destination, designed by a world-class architectural firm, would do the trick. Or maybe we should just fill the vacant retail spaces with tenants that could breathe life into the town center.
Maybe we could even build around Scotty's Landing or offer owner Scott Wessel another prime location for his iconic and well-loved dive bar. After all, that and Chart House are really the only things that Grovites can enjoy now -- unless we have a boat docked at the marina.
After spending more than an hour at the rally to learn about the project, I still have no concrete answers, nor do I have an idea of how I'll vote November 5. And that's a shame.