The Grove isn’t the only area with pump issues. Thirty-eight of the county’s 1,027 pump stations can no longer accept additional sewage. The vast majority of those are in Florida City and Homestead, with others in Hialeah and Coral Gables.
Still, the moratorium is bad news for the struggling Grove, which has seen foot traffic and business drop considerably in recent years.
Manny Gonzalez, of the Coconut Grove Business Improvement District, said the moratorium has stopped a handful of new restaurants and shops from opening. He said it’s especially painful at CocoWalk and Mayfair, large malls struggling to attract new tenants.
Some small business owners were reluctant to discuss the issue, acknowledging their landlords were worried it would hurt business or scare off potential tenants. The property manager of the Mayfair declined to answer questions.
William Rivas, the property manager for CocoWalk, said the moratorium was almost certain to affect business in the long run.
“These are obstacles that push us back,’’ he said, noting that it will be more challenging to fill vacant restaurant spaces. “We have a lot of people who want to invest in the Grove. This could be devastating.’’
Another big question mark is a planned six-block overhaul of the West Grove that would include a residential/retail mix and a supermarket. That and other projects may be able to move forward, but they won’t be allowed to open until the pump station is expanded or the developer can prove the new construction won’t produce a net gain in sewage.
Developer Peter Gardner said his Pointe Group is working with the city and county to reach a resolution.
“Our development and several others in the area are critical and essential economic drivers for the Grove, city and the county,” Gardner wrote in a statement to The Miami Herald. “I am confident that the leadership at the city and the county can be relied upon to work with all the local development projects to have them realized in a timely manner.”
Also in the works: the redevelopment of the site where the Grand Bay Hotel once stood.
David Martin of the Terra Group said water and sewer issues could dissuade a developer from choosing a property. “As developers, we look at things like sewage and pump stations,” he said. “These types of issues are very important.”
But he said the moratorium would not stop him from moving forward at the former Grand Bay site.
Mayor Gimenez said he has directed repair work to begin soon on the Grove pump station, as well as elsewhere throughout the county. The Water and Sewer Department has $100 million in the bank, and the plan is to sell another $300 million worth of bonds, possibly as early as February, he said.
“They’ve got to get going on these projects,” Gimenez said.
Sarnoff, who represents the district on the city commission, took a jab at the county for letting the situation reach the breaking point. He said one developer already backed out of plans to purchase a large Grove property on Main Highway because of the sewage problem.
“The county needs to provide proper plumbing,’’ he said. “It’s not sexy, but it’s their job. I guess the commissioners were too busy building ballparks.”