City of Miami commissioners voted late Thursday on whether to change the zoning in a historic part of Coconut Grove near Charles Avenue and Main Highway from a single-family residential zone to a commercial zone.
The change will open the path to build a 66-room inn, which will be called the Grove Inn. Behind the project is David Porter, the great-grandson of EWF Stirrup, a Bahamian pioneer in Miami who helped shape Coconut Grove into what it is today.
“The idea is to have a little bit of commercial development at that end of Charles Avenue to bring additional income our community,” Porter said.
The family business owns the property where the inn will be built, which is right across from the historic Stirrup home and behind the Coconut Grove Playhouse on a one-acre plot of land.
“There will be a lot of green space,” Porter said. “There are a lot of historical trees there because we think that’s an important part of it. And then again we also think the Bahamian theme is also important because a lot has been -- ‘erased’ is the wrong word -- but it has gone away and it has not been replaced in the way we think it should."
This project is getting both opposition and support from people who live in the area.
“It’s going to be an economic drive for the city,” said Linda Williams, a native resident of Coconut Grove. “So, we are hopeful the commissioners will give a ‘yea’ for the approval on this project.
Williams believe new development will help revitalize the area.
“There’s been no development, no care about our community, and here we have a family that owns property, decided to build themselves, as oppose to selling and have a developer give us what they think we want or what they think we need,” Williams said.
City of Miami Commissioner Ken Russell agrees about the lack of development.
“There is no healthy development going on there right now,” Russell said. “So, I want to encourage healthy development that actually creates affordable housing, jobs for the community that lives there now. Not just to push them out in favor of future development of those who would want to seek to move there.”
Grant Miller, who is the publisher of Miami’s Community Newspapers, has been very vocal opposing the project. Grant posted a 30-second video on YouTube claiming the project will destroy the history of Coconut Grove.
Guillermo de Lapaz, who has lived on Charles Avenue for six years, also disagrees with the project and is concerned about traffic.
“It’s a residential area,” de Lapaz said. “It doesn’t belong there. [It] Increases traffic, increased noise, increased garbage, many things."