Preservationists score protection in Little Havana, Coconut Grove

Some say historic designations block progress

Apr.April 08, 2015 11:45 AM

Miami preservationists scored two victories on Tuesday: legal protection for a Mediterranean Villa in Coconut Grove that could have been demolished and a section of east Little Havana that was facing redevelopment.

The city’s historic preservation board, which is tasked with protecting buildings and homes from demolition, reportedly awarded the historic designations after preservationists fought to keep the properties from being upzoned and redeveloped.

Dubbed the Riverview Historic District, the neighborhood in East Little Havana contains homes from the first half of the 20th century. Supporters of the district say that its history is rooted in the Latin American refugees and immigrants who settled there in the late 1950s.

The board gave preliminary approval to expanding the district by 14 properties after preservations argued the district was too small, according to the Miami Herald. The neighborhood is defined by Southwest Ninth Avenue and Southwest 10th Avenue, and Southwest Third Street and Southwest Fifth Street.

In Coconut Grove, the former home of major Grove developer Albert Frantz was given legal protection despite objections from its new owner — developer Eduardo Goudie, the Miami Herald reported. Goudie argued that the home is attractive but not historically important, the newspaper reported. It was designed by famed Miami architect Richard Kiehnal.

But not everyone is rooting for the preservationists: some homeowners in the area told the Miami Herald that the area in East Little Havana is rundown, and giving it a historic designation would block any possibility of redevelopment.

A measure is going before the city commission on Thursday that would block homeowners from requesting historic designations — a longstanding right under city ordinance, according to the Herald. Requests for designation would be reserved primarily for city officials or recognized preservation groups. [Miami Herald]Sean Stewart-Muniz

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