The once vibrant Coconut Grove Playhouse is on its way back to life, poised for renovation.
A 50 year lease was approved on October 8, 2012, by the Board of County Commissioners between co-lessees Florida International University (FIU) and Miami-Dade County. The lease also includes two renewable 25-year terms to provide current and future donors with a firm assurance that their contributions will help establish a dependable theater-going tradition on a site that is secured for the next 100 years. Good move!
The lease is currently in escrow until January 15, 2014, or at such time that a number of encumbrances affecting the Playhouse’s title are resolved. Once the encumbrances are satisfied, the lease will be activated and the county will move forward in selecting architectural, engineering, consulting and contracting firms.
Gables Stage, one of Florida’s most accomplished not-for-profit theater companies, is consulting with the County and FIU in developing a business plan for the proposed use of the Playhouse for educational, cultural and civic engagement purposes. Gables Stage will be responsible for operating, programming and maintaining the theater facility. Another smart move.
The plan is to build a 300-seat professional theater with a large hall, production area, rehearsal space, design studio and three areas for public performance, public exhibitions and art exhibitions. Michael Spring, Director of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, indicated that the county has $20 million for improvements.
The State of Florida’s Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund acquired the Playhouse in 1980. Sometime in 2004, the State contracted with the Playhouse to operate the on-site theater and also transferred its title to Coconut Grove Playhouse, LLC. In October, 2012, the State exercised a reverter provision in the deed, allowing them to take back ownership of the property.
Then, about March 1, 2013, the State instituted its surplus property process, requiring them to first offer the Playhouse for lease to State colleges, universities or agencies, subject to approval by the Board of Trustees. That’s where FIU came into the picture, expressing an interest in collaborating with Miami-Dade County.
The County Commission meets Tuesday, December 17 to review the encumbrances.
Thank you to Michael Spring, Director of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and to Jennifer Gerland, legislative assistant for Representative Jose Javier Rodriguez for providing the historical background and current information on the Coconut Grove Playhouse.
I am a luxury residential specialist in Coconut Grove, Coral Gables and Pinecrest. If you would like to schedule a buyer or seller meeting, feel free to call me directly at 305-898-1852 or drop me a note at Wellins.D@ewm.com