Historic Bahamian area to be developed
After over a decade of planning and several iterations, Gables Pointe Plaza has a go-ahead for a community center and restaurant on bare land at 280 S Dixie Hwy. after the Coral Gables City Commission unanimously approved zoning changes at the historic Bahamian site.
Developer Bahamian Village LLC, a joint venture of Redevco Grand LLC and the LBW Homeowners Inc., plans to build two one-story buildings in two phases.
First will be a 2,450-square-foot community center on the property’s east side that includes 1,100 square feet of office space. Bahamian Village LLC estimates the cost for this phase at under $500,000, with completion estimated in mid 2015, depending on the permitting process.
Phase Two is to be a 6,196-square-foot restaurant on the site’s west side adjacent to South Dixie Highway. It’s to include a bar and outdoor dining that would face south onto Grand Avenue.
Eighty-one parking spaces in the center of the site would separate the buildings.
Attorney Laura Russo, who represents the developer, told Miami Today that Bahamian Village is now speaking with several “quality restaurant operators” and anticipates securing one soon.
The property is bounded by Florida Avenue to the north, Grand Avenue to the south and South Dixie Highway to the west.
The 1.3 acres on the northeast corner of South Dixie Highway (US 1) and Grand Avenue were zoned for limited commercial. The developer requested commercial zoning for part of the eventual restaurant and applied for a planned area development designation, both of which were unanimously approved by Planning and Zoning on May 14.
The proposal also was reviewed by the Development Review Committee on Sept. 27, 2013, and Feb. 28, 2014, and the Board of Architects on May 1 and 8.
Bahamian Village LLC is required to provide bicycle parking, a trash room and screening around the restaurant; install all utilities underground; plan pedestrian and auto circulation on surrounding streets; and use only 30% as much space for outdoor dining as for indoor dining.
Planning staff commented that the site’s redevelopment “fulfills the objective of the city to attract infill development and improve a currently vacant lot. The introduction of the commercial business will create jobs and provide economic support for the surrounding commercial and retail uses and the community center will serve the needs of the surrounding residential neighborhood.”
Staff also stated the development as proposed “will enhance pedestrian activity and encourage further redevelopment of the area and provide improvements to the deteriorating streetscape around the perimeter of the property.”
Commission members expressed enthusiasm, calling the development a true community project and saying the two buildings will be a positive addition for the city.
Commissioner Patricia Keon said the LBW Homeowners’ Foundation, whose documents and files will be kept in the community center, has been extremely financially responsible and Coral Gables “is grateful to have them as part of our community.”
The LBW Homeowners’ Foundation – a non-profit founded July 4, 2001, comprised of local homeowners – works to revive and attract people to the historic McFarlane Homestead Subdivison neighborhood while preserving its Bahamian culture; create economic development; acquire and restore historic landmarks; and develop infill homes that compliment the neighborhood’s historic nature.
The MacFarlane Homestead Historic District, which was listed on the Register of Historic Places in 1995, is named for Flora McFarlane, the area’s first single female homesteader and its first teacher. She reportedly settled 160 acres there beginning March 16, 1891. In 1925, Ms. McFarlane sold the 20 acres that currently make up the historic district to Coral Gables founder George Merrick’s company, which turned it into a city subdivision. Many Bahamian immigrant laborers later built homes there.
“We are very excited with our recent approvals and looking forward to building Phase I, which includes our offices and the community center,” said Debra Sinkle Kolsky, Redevco Management’s president. “This is a major milestone and well-deserved achievement for this community, as they have worked tirelessly over the years to provide their input and desires for this development that is complimentary to their needs.”
Ms. Kolsky said this week that the restaurant will have over 200 feet of frontage on US 1, giving the operator tremendous visibility with over 100,000 cars passing daily, and “will easily service the affluent Gables, Grove and South Miami markets. It was our goal to develop a site plan that will assure the long-term success of the restaurant operation by providing sufficient parking within the site to maximize the restaurant’s revenues, something that many of the properties today don’t provide: ‘parking.’”