Coral Gables is considering building a new trolley garage at a fire station on South Dixie Highway.
To discuss the details, the city’s Public Works Department is hosting a meeting at 6 p.m. Dec. 9 at the Coral Gables Youth Center Theater, 405 University Dr.
City staff is asking for the community’s input on the proposed location for the trolley garage, which would be housed in the City’s Fire Station 2 facility — 525 S. Dixie Hwy., near the intersection of Ponce de Leon Boulevard and Riviera Drive. Currently, the garage is on LeJeune Road, across from Coral Gables High School.
The trolley garage sparked controversy in early 2013 when neighbors learned Coral Gables had cut a deal with a developer to build a new garage in the 3300 block of Douglas Road in Coconut Grove. In exchange, the city of Coral Gables agreed to hand over land on Le Jeune Road, where the garage now sits, to Astor Development to build a luxury, mixed-use condominium tower near the tony Village of Merrick Park.
Helped by a team of pro bono lawyers and University of Miami law professor Anthony Alfieri, West Grove residents sued the city of Miami, arguing they had not received proper notice before construction began. A judge sided with the developer, but then Coral Gables sued, arguing Astor had violated its contract by not adhering to Miami’s zoning rules.
In the meantime, resident Clarice Cooper, who lives across the street from the garage, complained the project violated the federal 1964 Civil Rights Act, which requires neighborhood surveys when federal transportation money is used. Some of the trolley were purchased with federal funds. Federal officials sided with Cooper, citing both Coral Gables and Miami as well as the county for violating the landmark law.
Although Astor completed the project, Coral Gables never moved the trolleys there, leaving the building on Douglas Road vacant.
In August, Coral Gables settled its dispute with Astor when the company agreed to build a new trolley garage in Coral Gables. Astor had proposed building the garage on the first floor of its condo tower, but that ran into issues.
Hence, the new effort to move the trolley to the Coral Gables fire station on South Dixie Highway.
In the new plan, Astor Development would pay $4 million to build the garage; the city of Coral Gables’ taxpayers would pay the remaining $1 million. Part of the funds also would go toward renovating the fire station.
If you go
What: City of Coral Gables Public Works Department is hosting a meeting at 6 p.m. Dec. 9 at the Coral Gables Youth Center Theater, 405 University Dr. to discuss a proposed plan to build a $5 million trolley garage at the fire station on South Dixie Highway. The meeting will be held at the Coral Gables Youth Center Theater, 405 University Dr. For information, call 305-460-5004.
Those who cannot attend the meeting can submit written comments by Dec. 16 to the Public Works Department at 2800 SW 72nd Ave., Miami, 33155.