Mayor Jim Cason boasts being supported for re-election by city “leaders” including the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce and the BID (Business Improvement District). I would be embarrassed for this support: the BID and chamber have not stood up for what is good for our city. They clearly have lacked a sense for simple sophisticated taste, real estate value, principles of good urbanism and how they interrelate to create a high-end pedestrian-friendly town. Their support has been reactive, politically driven and visionless. Some examples are:
▪ The last charrette held for downtown Coral Gables called to transform the parking area next to the Old Fire Station into a park. Instead, the Museum Annex was built there without any opposition from these organizations.
▪ These organizations did not adamantly oppose one of the worst and costliest decisions made for our downtown, which was replacing beautiful live oak trees that provided shade along Ponce and Alhambra, with non-native ‘weed” palms. This decision resulted in our downtown feeling and looking like Las Vegas.
▪ These organizations are now supporting the massive Agave project, whose vision remains in the worst of the 20th century mindset. This project is proposing to build much more than what they would normally be allowed “as of right,” to build high rises on public alleyways that are historic and belong to “the people” and calls for multiple decorative water features in an era when we are facing severe water shortages, and wars for water are being predicted.
These organizations’ positions have been partially responsible for Coral Gables losing most of the few high-end international retailers present here to other areas in Miami such as the Design District and Wynwood; areas which have inherited much less than Coral Gables but whose leaders demonstrate refinement and progressive vision.
Hello Coral Gables, do we not get it!
Fernando E. Menoyo,
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