Grove Bay’s proposed development is known as The Harbour. Eduardo Garcia and Giraldo Leyva Jr. are the primary managers. The modern, maritime-inspired design was created by Arquitectonica International.
Under the proposal, the Chart House would be replaced by Shula’s and the Peruvian restaurant. A casual eatery called Hangar 42 Pub & Grub would replace Scotty’s.
The group is planning to raise at least $17.9 million in private investment to fund the project. Grove Bay is guaranteeing Miami rent payments of at least $1.4 million annually, according to the proposal. They expect to pay the city upwards of $27 million during construction and over the first 10 years of operation.
Grove Bay has also pledged to contribute $30,000 annually toward scholarships for African-American students interested in the hospitality industry, and to create an onsite student mentoring program.
Noticeably missing from the latest round of proposals was Scott Wessel, the current owner and operator.
Wessel had submitted a proposal to update Scotty’s and Grove Key Marina during last year’s RFP process. But he soon found himself at the center of a heated dispute over $2.5 million in back taxes owed on the property, and facing a $400,000 bill from the city for unpaid fuel surcharges.
A judge has since determined that the city — not Wessel — was responsible for the unpaid property taxes. The fuel-surcharge issue is being litigated. Still, it was enough to discourage Wessel from trying to win a new contract this year.
“We had wanted to be involved in the RFP process,” he said. “But with the lawsuits, the headlines and the political environment, I chose not to participate.”
The proposal from Grove Bay will likely face resistance from Scotty’s loyalists, who have protested past attempts to gut the restaurant and build something more chic in its place.
“The city should save Scotty’s,” said Ron Higgins, a longtime Grovite who visits the restaurant multiple times a week with his dogs. “The city should not touch it because it is unique. It’s one of a kind. I just can’t see why they want to turn us into Miami Beach.”
Hadley Williams, another Grove resident, said the development would “overwhelm the area.”
“It’s too much,” he said. “And it’s going to kill the businesses in the Center Grove.”
But some residents concede that the waterfront needs a facelift, and are supporting the new pitch.
“I really like the way the restaurants look from an architectural perspective, and I like the fact that it provides public access to the water,” said Michelle Niemeyer, who sits on the Cocoanut Grove Village Council.
Wessel, too, gave his stamp of approval.
“It’s an amazing development,” he said. “We’ll see how the process pans out.”