Coconut Grove

Judge tosses Grove Bay lawsuits

Rendering of planned Coconut Grove waterfront restaurants.
Rendering of planned Coconut Grove waterfront restaurants. Arquitectonica

An $18 million marina and restaurant project on Coconut Grove’s waterfront leapt another hurdle this week when a judge tossed two lawsuits challenging the legitimacy of the city’s procurement process and public referendum.

The Grove Bay Investment Group renovation and redevelopment of Grove Key Marina and the Chart House and Scotty’s Landing restaurants was approved by voters in November. But the development has been somewhat stuck in limbo as the developer and city have hashed out differences with Grove businessman Steve Kneapler in court.

Kneapler sought to throw out the project on the grounds that the city had failed to properly notice a referendum last year, and didn’t secure enough votes for a waterfront development to be authorized. He also argued that the city -- which originally put the project out to bid -- had broken its own laws by failing to ensure it received “fair market value” for the land.

Grove Bay and the city denied the charges.

On Wednesday, Miami-Dade judge Marc Shumacher, who on Wednesday sided with the city and Grove Bay. He further ruled that Kneapler failed to prove he even had standing to bring his suit.

Kneapler intends to appeal, according to his attorney, Alejandro Vilarello.

“Basically, what the judge has ruled is that the city commission is allowed to go forward and violate the city charter with impunity,” Vilarello said.

Attempts to reach representatives of Grove Bay were unsuccessful Friday. Deputy City Manager Alice Bravo said the city isn’t quite sure what the ruling means yet for the project.