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Is it more about development than a playhouse?

Michael Spring addresses
the audience.
The County hosted a meeting Thursday night regarding the latest plan for the Coconut Grove Playhouse. Michael Spring, Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, and head of this playhouse project reinforced that the GableStage will be the operator of the playhouse, with 300 seats. He felt that was intimate and worked with the stage and the patrons. "It wasn't designed for chamber music or Broadway musicals," he said.

Bob Ingraham in the audience, brought up the 300 seats planned for the Theater, which he felt was too small, he asked if it's more about building and development around the area rather than actual theater. Bob was the technical director of Ransom Everglades across from the playhouse, which has 1000 seats, by the way. He also worked with Sunrise Theater, Parker Playhouse and the Broward Center, which has two theaters - 2500 and 600 seats (they called "the small hall.")

He called the current state of the playhouse "designed neglect." He, as many do, felt that the current theater could be renovated and not destroyed just to usher in development around the whole area. 

The pending appeal was brought up. The City Commission will hear that next week. So I'm not sure what the point of this meeting was, other than to appease the developers and new land owners in the Grove. 

County's design for the Playhouse

One interesting thing that came up was that the debt owed to the city ($2 million or so) will be wiped out if a deal is made with the Miami Parking Authority to put a garage next door, which is part of the plan. Still a bone of contention are the condo units that will be part of the that garage.

It is becoming quite clear to many that the whole project is reversed. Rather than have a theater with amenities, the buildings and amenities now overpower a small theater, like an after thought. It's about the development opportunities, the playhouse is just an annoyance. 

Someone brought up the fact that part of the plan is to have a restaurant or two and a bar as part of the playhouse. How will this help businesses in the area if the whole thing is self contained? 

It seems as if Grovites will have no say in what they would like for the theater. Just the fact that this meeting was held on Flagler Street at the Miami-Dade Auditorium, was an insult. The auditorium was not very full and I suspect most Grovites are weary of the whole project at this point.

The current design renderings and drawings can be seen here.

This post first appeared on Coconut Grove Grapevine, please read the originial post: here

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Is it more about development than a playhouse?


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