Leona Cooper still lives across the street from where her late husband was born, 84 years ago, in the 200 block of Washington Avenue, in Coral Gables, she proudly told city commissioners Tuesday morning.
“We were like the Aboriginals of Australia, we were the first people here,” she said.
Here, is an area in the southeast corner of Coral Gables, a block from Coconut Grove, commonly referred to as “Black Gables,” a term Cooper hates. “It’s insulting.”
Call the neighborhood the Golden Gate Subdivision and MacFarlane Homestead Subdivision, she said.
As the guest of Commissioner Maria Anderson, Cooper addressed the commissioners at Coral Gables City Hall with her concerns over the West Grove Trolley Depot.
The proposed trolley site has angered Cooper and residents of the West Grove. Last week, three homeowners and a church, all adjacent to the garage in the 3300 block of Douglas Road, sued the city of Miami, contending the city violated its own rules by allowing what they say is an industrial, not commercial, use at the site. They also argue the city violated state and federal constitutional guarantees for proper notice.
The residents object to a land swap in which the developer, Astor, is building a mixed-use luxury apartment building on the old trolley site, down the block from the Village of Merrick Park. In exchange, the developer is building the trolley depot in the West Grove.
“That’s insulting to bring that there, into a black community,” Cooper said. “The Gables and the Coconut Grove black community are sort of together, one big family, and it’s hurtful to me you’d do that. I’m asking you to be more considerate about what you do when it comes to us. We pay taxes. We vote. We’re not that 47 percent.”
At the very least, Cooper suggested, the trolley should provide service to members of the communities.
Members of the commission, including Vice Mayor William Kerdyk Jr. and Ralph Cabrera, as well as City Manager Pat Salerno, assured Cooper that a trolley master plan study would incorporate the areas in question in the consultants’ research to determine the full scope of service.
Meanwhile, in other business:
• The city agreed to restore the Miracle Theatre marquee to its original look. Home to Actors’ Playhouse since 1995 on Miracle Mile, and a movie theater for decades before that, the theater’s outside appearance will once again sport its original 1947 design by the summer. The marquees’ original manufacturer, Acolite Claude United Sign Company, will work as a subcontractor.
Among the fixes: the horizontal marquee will be completely removed and restored with new, white, curved acrylic panels. The vertical marquee’s neon lighting will be restored to its original look in which the “Miracle” will light up one letter at a time as it did upon its opening in 1948. The worn ticket kiosk in the front lobby will also be restored.
Total cost to restore the city-owned theater: about $240,000.
“The restoration of the marquee and kiosk will create new energy on the Mile,” said Actors’ Playhouse executive producing director Barbara Stein in a statement.
• The commission approved a building sign Dade Medical College plans to erect above the sixth floor of its new offices at 95 Merrick Way. The school modified the sign to fit within the city’s zoning guidelines to win approval.
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