The City's Historic and Environmental Preservation Board recommended at Tuesday's meeting, that the Coconut Grove Playhouse be included on the National Register of Historic Places; the whole building, not just the front portion.
There are two plans in play right now, Miami-Dade County's plans present that the front portion, or the eyebrow should be saved and the rest of the building should be demolished and rebuilt. The so-called "Eidson plan" calls for renovating the whole structure and keeping it as one whole entity.
There was an article in the Miami Herald regarding the Coconut Grove Playhouse. A survey was conducted and according to the Herald the results were that 78 percent of Coconut Grove voters were in favor of the county's plans to knock down most of the current playhouse and building a whole new project. The only part saved would be the front "eyebrow" area, basically the entrance.
I am not sure how to respond to this. The survey was commissioned by GableStage, who would benefit from the county's plans. Bendixen & Amandi International conducted the poll.
I wonder who these people are that are in favor of demolishing the Playhouse, I personally know of only one person who is in favor of that, so to see 78% of the 400 people polled is quite interesting.
I asked Fernand Amandi, principal at Bendixen & Armandi about the survey. "GableStage did commission our firm to conduct an independent survey of voters residing in Coconut Grove to determine the perspective of the community most impacted by the Playhouse debate. We took on the assignment with the explicit understanding made to GableStage that we would conduct an independent, scientific and representative study. Our firm designed the survey instrument and the questionnaire with the strict aim of presenting a neutral and balanced framing of the issue to Coconut Grove voters, as determined by news reports and the facts surrounding the issue, to elicit the most accurate responses," Fernand said.
Fernand was kind enough to send me the survey and I have the survey here, you can see it all in this dropbox.
Interestingly enough, by a very large margin, residents felt that the most important issue facing Coconut Grove today is "stopping over-development." But tearing down the Playhouse and constructing more development is the total opposite of that.
90% of the respondents said they would like to see the Playhouse redeveloped and reopened to the public.
74% of people polled said they felt that the county should not halt the redevelopment process and should continue with their current Playhouse redevelopment plan.
44% oppose Eidson's plans; 39% approve those plans and 17% had no opinion.
59% felt that the county's plans should proceed, 24% liked Eidson's concept and 17% didn't know or had no answer. Eidson's plans call for renovation of the whole Playhouse, the county plans call for demolition of most of the Playhouse.
Those who approved the county's plans felt that they had a plan so it was a good idea to proceed and that 300 seats was enough, they also felt it was cheaper and more practical.
The reasons for people choosing the county's plans were many, they felt the county was trustworthy, they felt that they didn't want lots of traffic with a larger theater, they felt that they wanted the Grove to remain quaint. It's all in the report.
Following that portion of the report, there are the reasons given for people choosing Eidson's plan.
There wasn't much talk of history or keeping the Playhouse as an historic structure. But after Tuesday's HEP Board vote, who knows what will happen.