On Thursday, December 8, 2016, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs hosted a community meeting at the Ransom Everglades School auditorium to provide an update on the Coconut Grove Playhouse project. Led by Michael Spring, Senior Advisor to the Mayor and Director of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, the meeting featured detailed presentations from the design team experts relating the following:
- the comprehensive research completed to date on the history and evolution of the property and the resulting findings;
- the recommendations for saving the most architecturally significant parts of the Playhouse based on the research completed, including the entire historic corner building and interior elements where possible, such as the proscenium arch and the remaining solomonic columns; and
- the proposed masterplan which:
- maintains sensitivity to the building’s architectural and cultural significance,
- provides an integrated solution for bringing great, artistic theater back to the site, and
- is achievable within the available financial resources.
Adolfo Henriques, Chair of the Miami-Dade County Cultural Affairs Council, welcomed the community and provided opening remarks. Speakers included Steven Weinger, Esq., Board Chair and President of GableStage; Joseph Adler, Producing Artistic Director of GableStage; Joel Murray, Department Chair, Department of Theater, Florida International University; Art Noriega, Chief Executive Officer, Miami Parking Authority; Jorge L. Hernandez, professor and noted historic preservation architect; and Bernardo Fort-Brescia, Founding Principal of Arquitectonica International Corporation.
More than 200 citizens attended the meeting. Lieutenant Governor Carlos López-Cantera, City of Miami Commissioners Ken Russell and Frank Carollo, and representatives from the offices of Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Xavier Suarez were present as well.
Following presentations by the theater, educational, parking and design team experts, the public and the speakers engaged in a valuable conversation expressing the spectrum of community aspirations and benefits to be realized through the plan as proposed. The many observations shared and comments proffered included enthusiasm for:
- the quality of the programming to be provided;
- the innovative educational and outreach partnerships already underway between GableStage and FIU;
- the sensitivity of the scale of the proposed theater and site plan to the surrounding, adjacent residential neighborhoods;
- the consideration of the Grove’s character, urban aesthetic, density and traffic concerns;
- the pioneering professional opportunities, training , development and career tracks for actors, directors, playwrights, theater technicians and theater arts practitioners to be expanded;
- the enterprising relationships with area merchants, institutions, historic preservation and civic interests being respected and developed;
- the completion of the project no later than 2022, as provided in the lease agreement with the State of Florida; and
- the sound, sustainable operational, financial and business practices that underpin the return of great, regional theater to the property and the neighborhood.
At the meeting’s conclusion, there was general consensus expressed regarding the overall direction of the plan as proposed. Attendees were invited explicitly to remain engaged and to continue to provide feedback, observations and questions directly to the Department now and as the plan continues to evolve. Michael Spring and the design team committed to hosting future community convenings at milestone moments throughout the project to keep the public informed and to receive input about this much-anticipated project.
Please note that all earlier updates remain available on this web site and contain more details about the project and its progress. The material presented at the December 8th town meeting was posted on this website prior to the town meeting and can be accessed here.
To view a comprehensive list of all the previous updates visit: http://www.miamidadearts.org/coconut-grove-playhouse-updates