I have been concerned with recent statements issued from Coral Gables City Hall that the zoning code needs to be amended to allow for night clubs and late-night bars to “compete” with Miami’s Design District, South Beach and Coconut Grove.
The Gables has always been proud to have its own special image and its own market share of visitors based on sophisticated shopping and fine restaurant dining. While the economic viability of the Gables formula was challenged by the Great Recession, all indications are that the vitality of the business district is robust and promising. The Miracle Mile vacancy rate is 4 percent — its lowest since the beginning of the 21st Century — and parking spaces are filled to capacity seven days a week.
The cover feature of the July 25 Neighbors highlighted the “Gables Getaway” featuring the City Beautiful’s restaurants, Books & Books, and the Art Cinema as the perfect formula for a summertime break. Three days later (July 28) the Neighbors section proclaimed the beginning of a new late-night film series at the Miracle Theatre, which speaks to the Coral Gables difference: “We wanted to develop the younger generation audience in their 20s and 30s who like to stay out late but are sick of the bar scene.” When other cities struggled to attract condominium dwellers to their inner-cities, Coral Gables succeeded due to its charming, safe environment and the lack of a late night “entertainment zone” — something which interferes with peaceful apartment life, as has been demonstrated elsewhere.
The next step will be the allowance for flashing neon signs and 5 a.m. closing times. There seems to be a rush to “change” the character of the city to become something it’s not nor should be.
Don Slesnick, Coral Gables