Historic Stirrup House Stirring Up Trouble

The Stirrup house was once the center of the Coconut Grove bahamian community

Residents along Coconut Grove's Charles Avenue are doing their best to derail plans to make a historic building a thing of the past.

Yellow flyers are being distributed that claim that if the historic Stirrup House is rezoned then it would mean "...more commercial building like restaurants, office, night clubs and parking lots. In several years these changes wil push the residents out of their homes and pave the way for even more businesses."

Target of the residents concern is Rick Kalwani who has developed the adjoining property on the site of the Taurus Steakhouse on Main Highway. Kalwani and his partners have built condos, a restaurant, a wine shop, and produced a smaller version of the Taurus.

He also holds a 50-year lease on the decaying home that is on the National Historic Register.

The Stirrup house was once the keystone of the Bahamian section of Coconut Grove.

Across the street from the 115-year-old structure is the now closed Coconut Grove Playhouse. There are plans afoot to reopen the theater, which would place the Strirrup House in the flow of pedestrian traffic.

Kalwani says he plans to restore the home.

Members of the Stirrup family say the only way to save the deteriorating, termite-damaged structure is to allow the developers to generate revenue from the house.

Does that mean a bed and breakfast or a small boutique in the future for the property?

Kalwani says he won't know what he will do with the property until the city rezones and he knows exactly what the restrictions will be.

Any renovations, even for limited use, has to be reviewed by the Historic Preservation Board, which has a reputation for being tough when it comes to protecting historic structures.

Williams Armbrister, who is a third generation member of an original pioneer Bahamian family, does not like the rezoning idea one bit.

"What can he possibly put there to recoup his investment in this house other than a restaurant, a bar or nightclub?" he said. "We do not know."

Supporters on both sides are expected to pack City Hall on May 26, when the Stirrup House hits the city commission agenda.

Contact Us