I’ve refrained from writing much in recent years about my neighborhood. I used to be a huge advocate of Coconut Grove, FL, so much so that random friends who hadn’t seen me in years  would bring it up after reading my blog. Why have I abandoned this soap box in recent years? Why did I decide to take up the megaphone again for this rare appearance? As someone who has been a community activist for so many years in Miami I have seen a disturbing trend emerge.  Our community fears change.

In its heyday of the late 90s (I’m referring to financial peak, not the good ol’ days that many of the old guard refer to, which were the 1960s), Coconut Grove was one of a handful of entertainment destinations in Miami. There was no competition from South Miami, Brickell, Wynwood, Design District, Coral Gables, etc. etc. During the aughts (2000s) Miami underwent a huge evolution or revolution and more entertainment options shot up all over. Brickell was no longer the dead zone it had been at night, Midtown was no longer a train yard, Wynwood was no longer a semi-abandoned/super-dangerous light-industrial zoned neighborhood. These areas all developed to fulfill the needs of the consumers. We live in a capitalist society, whereby the market drives supply and demand, not the government (regional or local).

Currently the Grove, as it is referred to in Miami, is facing a number of issues at the moment that range from legacy pollution issues to waterfront development plans. A small cadre of the residents (there are close to 33,000 in the zipcode 33133) are fighting tooth and nail the redevelopment of a critical piece of waterfront land. Not for any environmental reasons as you might assume a waterfront development fight to be about. Rather they are fighting to hold onto the past.

Cities like Las Vegas (which bears a number of similarities to Miami) are turning over every few years, they tear down the old to make way for the new and better. How do they determine something new should go in place of something old? Capitalism. As these businesses fail, they are replaced. Similarly the free markets should determine the nature of what businesses come and go in Miami, especially in Coconut Grove.

Coconut Grove needs to realize that it is time to evolve. By stagnating and wasting years with infighting and petty squabbles and not having any action, the community has fallen by the wayside of economic growth that other areas of the city benefited from. Until the Grove starts to do something to save itself, why should I, one of the young renters in the area bother to try and save it. My time is better served working on issues that affect the whole of the Miami community, rather than a small section that although I hold dear to my heart, does nothing to help itself.

Communities across America need to embrace the idea of change, otherwise someone else will dictate that change for them.

 

7 Comments

  1. branthadaway

    Oh, dear, you’ve made the grievous error of criticizing Coconut Grove’s favorite past-time: Arguing over how other people should spend their money!
    😉

  2. Charles Corda

    Poorly conceived article, deeply flawed in it’s premise. Capitalist theory is limited in it’s capacity to cross the border of economics into other less quantifiable yet equally, if not more important, aspects of our civilization and society. Historical, Cultural and Ecological concerns generally cannot be defined in terms of economic theory of which “capitalism” is just one example. To deny the multifaceted aspect of our existence and attempt to reduce all things to Capitalist theory is “reductio absurdum”.. Miami Is not Las Vegas. Cultural Historical and Ecological resources that exist in Miami are not akin to the Las Vegas strip Casino’s and Hotels. Simply tearing down and rebuilding based upon a premise that Capitalist theory rules all things is short sighted at best and criminal in the context of important cultural and historical and natural resources. We are more than money changers.
    Charles Corda

  3. Charles, Scotty’s surviving all these years has been floated by their lack of paying rent or taxes. How is Scotty’s a historic site?

  4. CRCMiami

    Morning Brian.. I don’t think I said Scotty’s was historic. However take a look at the real historic photos of the site. This is probably the only place in the world that actually looked better as a airport..

  5. Charles, the key issue here is those opposing it (many of them rightfully business owners in center grove) aren’t proposing an alternative. You have grapevine ranting about the tearing down of the outdated convention center and subsequent park that will be put in its place, then you have people complaining about scotty’s being decrepit, but then those same people complain that someone wants to redevelop that land.

  6. CRCMiami

    The issue on the table today is whether or not people want to proceed with this Grove Bay Plan as currently presented. There is no option right now for an alternative plan. The Ballot calls for an up or down vote.There is no middle ground available. If this measure is defeated in November than there will be an opportunity to develop a plan that responds to the communities needs and desires for this site not just the developers. If the Plan is approved the opportunity to alter it in any way is lost..for the next 80 years.
    One thing has as always bothered me is the propaganda that states it is “this plan or the site remains as is”. That is nothing but an attempt to use fear tactics on the part of the City.. There is no reason what so ever that the site cannot be developed in a responsive, ecologically appropriate way that balances the aforementioned needs of both the developers and concerned citizens.
    A great many concerned citizens have attempted to work with both the City and the developers to look at possible alternatives to the proposed plan to no avail. They simply have been ignored by both the City and The Developer. They have made this a “take it or leave it situation” . I say leave it..We can do better.

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