Coral Gables

Coral Gables legend steps down; commission talks trolleys and building development

In 2011: Coral Gables’ then-Vice-Mayor William H. Kerdyk Jr.
In 2011: Coral Gables’ then-Vice-Mayor William H. Kerdyk Jr. Miami Herald File

The next time you attend a Coral Gables Commission meeting, a Kerdyk will not be on the dais.

William H. Kerdyk Jr. — who has served on the commission for 20 years following his father and his uncle — attended his last meeting as an official on Wednesday, ending a nearly 60-year lineage of service.

Kerdyk’s uncle, Frank E. Kerdyk, served as commissioner from 1957 until 1961. His father, William Kerdyk Sr., served as commissioner from 1967 to 1995. Kerdyk Jr. has been serving Coral Gables since 1995.

Kerdyk terms out on April 14, when a new commissioner will be chosen to take his seat during municipal elections. Kerdyk was originally planning to run for mayor, but said he decided it was his “time to go.”

“I’m happy with where I am. I think I’ve given the city a lot. I’ve worked hard,” Kerdyk said Tuesday. “My youngest daughter goes away to college next summer. I don’t want to spend the next several months as an absentee father in an encompassing campaign. I am not closing the door to running for public office later on, but I really need to step back and reanalyze where I am in life and make some decisions on where I want to go in the future.”

Kerdyk was honored at the beginning of the council meeting. Commissioners played a video about his family’s history and had his wife, mother and daughter stepped up to the podium.

Kerdyk was given a 20-year service pin, a key to the city, and was made mayor for the day. His mother was honored with a 60-year service pin for “supporting and allowing her husband, brother-law and son” to be so involved in the city.

“You are so appreciated,” Commissioner Vince Lago said.

After that, Mayor Jim Cason handed over his mallet, and Kerdyk took reign of the meeting.

Trolleys

Commissioners voted unanimously to proceed to turn the existing Coral Gables Fire Station 2, 525 S. Dixie Hwy., into the new trolley garage.

Commissioners decided the city will move forward with renovating the station and expanding it to accommodate both the fire department and the facility in which would in the future house the trolleys.

The commission also voted unanimously to lease Miami-Dade County’s Bus Maintenance facility for one year, to house the city’s trolleys, at 7001 SW Fourth St. The trolleys will be housed starting fall 2016.

The trolley garage sparked controversy in early 2013 when Coral Gables 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 agreed to hand over the trolley garage site on Le Jeune Road to Astor Development to build a luxury condo tower near the Village of Merrick Park.

That plan sparked lawsuits and a finding by the U.S. Department of Transportation that the cities of Coral Gables and Miami, along with Miami-Dade County, failed to comply with the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 when the trolley garage was built in the west Grove. The law states that municipalities have to conduct proper outreach when federally funded transportation projects are built in minority neighborhoods. Some of the trolleys were financed with federal funds.

Although Astor completed the project, Coral Gables never moved the trolleys there. In fact, the city sued Astor, contending the company did not comply with the city of Miami’s zoning rules. In August, the city settled its suit with Astor after the developer agreed to build a new trolley garage in Coral Gables.

Development

It was a full house Wednesday with City Hall chambers overflowing. Up for first reading was the the biggest development ever on the drawing board — the Mediterranean Village project developed by Agave Ponce LLC.

The item was ultimately deferred to Thursday, April 2 at 9 a.m. at City Hall.

Residents, developers and members of the community all gathered to discuss the the project. Most of the residents present said the project will affect traffic and residential life on a grand scale, and devalue Miracle Mile.

The city’s Planning and Zoning Board unanimously approved the project on Feb. 11. For it to come to pass, it will have to pass second reading, which could take months.

If passed, the mixed-use, $500 million project would rise on the former Old Spanish Village site on Ponce Circle, just a few blocks south of Miracle Mile.

Mediterranean Village would encompass almost seven acres. Plans include a high-end hotel with 184 rooms; 314,000 square feet of office space; restaurants, stores, a gym and a multiplex cinema. The project is also slated to include three residential towers with 214 condo units and 15 townhouses.

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