Miami board approves new plan for Coconut Grove Playhouse

Renovated building would have 311 seats plus dressing rooms, administrative offices and costume rooms

Rendering of Coconut Grove Playhouse (Credit: Arquitectonica)
Rendering of Coconut Grove Playhouse (Credit: Arquitectonica)

The fresh redesign of the Coconut Grove Playhouse renovation project got a seal of approval from Miami’s Urban Development Review Board. Six board members voted unanimously on Wednesday to approve a new detailed site plan that includes a fully restored auditorium building.

In December, the Miami City Commission derailed a $20 million proposal by the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs that entailed razing the playhouse’s deteriorated 1,100-seat auditorium and replacing it with a modern 300-seat theater. Instead, the city commission voted to preserve the theater’s exterior facade.

New renderings and the proposed site plan by project architect Arquitectonica now show the front of the theater building would be restored to retain its historical elements. The renovated building would have 311 seats with supportive areas such dressing rooms, administrative offices and costume rooms totaling 28,460 square feet.

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A new five-story building with 300 parking spaces and 33,580 square feet of office space would replace a parking lot adjacent to the theater. About 13,000 square feet of existing retail space would be expanded by another 3,175 square feet and given a modernized look with large windows.

The 1926 theater has been shuttered since 2006 when the state-owned facility ceased operations. The county took over the property, and in conjunction with Florida International University, commissioned Coconut Grove-based Arquitectonica to come up with a redevelopment plan for the Playhouse. The cultural affairs department still has to get the new proposal approved by city’s planning and zoning department and the Historic Preservation and Environmental Protection Board.

Earlier this month, a Bendixen & Amandi International poll of 400 Miami residents found that 80 percent favored the county’s $20 million plan to renovate and reopen the playhouse. They selected it over a competing proposal by arts patron Mike Eidson, who wants to restore the entire structure and build a 700-seat theater at a cost of at least $48 million.