A bed-and-breakfast complex planned for the West Grove is moving forward, despite neighboring homeowners’ objections to rezoning the development site due to fears of gentrification.
The Miami City Commission last week voted in favor of changing the zoning for six lots near 3227 Charles Avenue in Miami’s Coconut Grove from single-family residential to low-density restricted commercial. It was the second and final reading, which allows a partnership between family members of Bahamian West Grove founder Ebenezer W.F. Stirrup and 12 investors affiliated with Colliers’ Pointe Group Investment Services, Aries Development, and Lamar Acquisitions to redevelop 42,023 square feet of land, including three single-family houses.
Carlos Lago, an attorney for Stirrup Properties and 3227 Grove LLC, said the rezoning allows his clients to build a bed-and-breakfast complex with restaurants anchored by the circa-1897 EWF Stirrup House at 3242 Charles Avenue. The site is near the soon-to-be-redeveloped Coconut Grove Playhouse.
City commissioners approved the rezoning after Lago said his clients would restrict the building’s height to 34 feet, even though a maximum height of 40 feet is allowed, and also that all parking for the site would be underground. Lago said the developer would restrict traffic access so that vehicles would only be able to access the site from Main Highway. In addition, Stirrup Properties and 3227 Grove LLC agreed to make a $150,000 contribution to fix up low-income housing in the West Grove and provide jobs to neighborhood residents starting at $15 an hour.
Despite the developers’ concessions, several property owners and activists still opposed the project. “We have never had commercial development on Charles Avenue,” said William Armbrister, whose family also has long ties to the West Grove. “The developers get the ripe fruit, and we get the rotten fruit,” he said.
Shirley Gibson, another West Grove property owner whose family has deep roots in the neighborhood, said the rezoning would accelerate gentrification. “Once it is commercialized, you are going to have a domino effect,” Gibson said. “They will be coming to me to get me to commercialize my properties, and it will go all the way down the street.”
The zoning code only allows nine homes under 25 feet in height to be built on the Charles Avenue parcels, which abut a parking lot for the Coconut Grove Playhouse.
But the changes will now allow up to 36 units in buildings up to 40 feet tall, though the developers agreed to cap the height at 34 feet. They also agreed to design the complex in an architectural style that pays homage to the West Grove’s Bahamian roots.