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Front Page » Communities » Markers Grove Isle battles way to condo starting line

Markers Grove Isle battles way to condo starting line

Written by on February 20, 2018
Markers Grove Isle battles way to condo starting line

Markers Grove Isle on Fair Isle is marked by controversy. Developer Eddie Avila expects the $200 million project to place the Grove community on par with Tahiti Beach in Coral Gables and Fisher Island. But most current island residents aren’t on board.
Fair Isle, commonly called Grove Isle, boasts three residential towers with a total of 510 units that date to the 1970s and a club that debuted in 1980. Markers Grove Isle aims to add a five-story, 65-unit condominium.
Grove Isle Associates purchased the seven acres on which the new club and residential building will rise in 2013. Spokesperson for Markers Grove Isle Juan Peñalosa says 30% of its residences are already sold to current residents and residents’ friends.
“I think that this will add another opportunity [for those] that don’t want to leave the island but want something fresh and new,” Mr. Avila said. He and his team are seeking a City of Miami construction permit and he hopes to break ground by spring.
But the project, first proposed in 2014, continues to face backlash. Alan Goldfarb, a resident, joined others when the plan was first floated. He said he learned that the residential component exceeded the five-story cap set by city zoning laws. Grove Isle Associates since revised its plan to the cap to meet zoning laws.
Mr. Goldfarb joined neighbors in another matter. Developers, he said, proposed shutting the club down while residents still paid dues. He and others sought a mandatory injunction to keep the club open. Judge Bronwyn Miller heard the case last spring and ruled in August.
“They were mandated to keep the club open and they couldn’t reduce the quality,” Mr. Goldfarb said. “That’s what it said and that’s how it was supposed to be.”
An additional trial followed. Residents wanted the hotel kept open while developers questioned whether they needed to do so. “The same judge about a year ago ruled that there shall be a hotel which is part of the club,” Mr. Goldfarb said.
Another lawsuit is now on the table. Mr. Goldfarb says developers hiked the dues residents pay while reducing services.
“Mondays our restaurant isn’t open,” he said. “They decided that Sunday brunch wasn’t working. They decided the spa, which had people full-time, would only be part-time or by appointment. The food quality and other things, we contend, have gone down while our dues have gone up and therefore you have the dues lawsuit. That lawsuit is heading to a non-jury trial in April.”
One concern regards the safety and reliability of the bridge connecting Grove Isle to the mainland. But the bridge is inspected every two years, Mr. Avila said, and can tolerate the demands of a construction project.
Other worries linger. Mr. Goldfarb says residents in Grove Isle’s Building Three might have their view blocked and property value dip as a result of the construction. “You might be blocked,” he said. “You might be in close proximity to where that building is. Do you want to buy that fifth floor unit?”
The looming project divides current residents.
Said one living in the first building, farthest from the planned construction site, “I wish to stay anonymous because this is a relatively small community. Many have fought tooth-and-nail against this project, and I don’t want to create any ill feelings between neighbors with my own opinion regarding Markers Grove Isle.”
While most residents are fighting the project, this resident doesn’t feel the same. “Considering this has been going on for several years, the facilities are now in greater disrepair, and these people have every right to build because they own the property. At this point, I’d rather see something sooner rather than later. The property is deteriorating and the price of our units is stagnant.”
The reduction from 12 to eight tennis courts doesn’t concern this resident. However, removal of the hotel is an attention-getter. Thirty of the hotel’s 50 rooms are currently available. Grove Isle Associates expects to reduce that number to 14 guest suites.
There is a reason.
“Under Miami 21 zoning, hotels are not permitted,” Mr. Avila said. “And if we were to build more hotel rooms it would just be additional expenses for the club members to maintain because it cannot be opened to the public.”
Besides zoning and cost concerns, Mr. Avila says the removal of a hotel on the grounds will limit access to the island exclusively to club members and residents. “Right now, if you were visiting the island, and you say you were visiting the hotel or restaurant, they just open the gate and you come in,” he said. “Making it a private island will be for the betterment of all residents.”
Construction plans would extend over a year, during which residents wouldn’t have access to any temporary facility. But the anonymous resident said that’s not a loss: “What they offered was laughable, which would have been an above-ground pool in a parking area. Food service wouldn’t have been on the water. It sounded very slap-dash, and I think that’s why our board rejected that. We’re paying no dues for the time that the facilities are shut.”
Although developers early on suggested use of Biltmore Hotel facilities in Coral Gables as a temporary option, residents refused. Many found closer hotels, gyms and spas. The same source said, “It didn’t seem attractive. It wasn’t much of an offer.”
But the anonymous resident, a 24-year Grove Isle veteran who plans to stay, said the changes will pay off: “I think in the long-term it will increase values here. People on Grove Isle are aware that apartments here are bargain prices compared to other waterfront properties on the area.”
The project is expected to break ground this year despite the opposition, Mr. Avila said, and he expects construction to wrap up by 2020.

9 Responses to Markers Grove Isle battles way to condo starting line

  1. luc faucheux

    February 23, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    Thanks again Rebecca for a great and informative article.
    As a resident of Grove Isle, I think I can speak for many when I say that we would want nothing more than seeing the beauty of the island preserved, and enhanced. And so I think a point that might be missing from the article is the following: most current residents would be on board if the developer had been open, transparent and cooperating with the residents from the start. Again we would love to see the island benefit from a much needed renovation around the hotel, the spa and the restaurant / club. Unfortunately from the start Mr Avila took a very confrontational and hostile approach, and more importantly, single handedly let the facilities decay to a level that is now unacceptable. One has only to walk around the destroyed seawall, or look at the attendance at the club, or the hotel, to realize that management has let this place go to shambles, in order to force the hands of the residents to accept whatever plans Mr Avila has been trying to push. It is a shame because I can attest that the community of Grove Isle residents is energized, passionate about the island, and constitutes a pool of talent, ideas and skills that Mr Avila refused to engage constructively and tap into from the start of the project. There is so much we could do together, unfortunately Mr. Avila’s behavior has been detrimental to the whole project, in the sense that he has now little faith or good credit with the residents. In summary, residents would love to see a high quality addition to the island, the crux of the matter is that Mr Avila up until now has made it clear that he was not the man for the task, nor has he been willing to accept help, advice or co-operations from the community of residents.

  2. Mr A. Smith

    February 25, 2018 at 5:22 pm

    Avila and boosters have tried and failed to divide the island community. He is no friend of Grove Isle. The project’s marketing campaign with a very long disclaimer just about sums it up… going back to court and begging the question… what exactly is being sold here?

    “The Markers Grove Isle


    This offering is made only by the prospectus for The Markers Grove Isle, a Condominium, and no statement should be relied upon if not made in the prospectus. No real estate broker or salesperson is authorized to make any representations or other statements regarding this Condominium, and no agreements with, deposits paid to or other arrangements made with any real estate broker are or shall be binding on the Developer.

    Renderings and photographs depict proposed views, which are not identical from each unit. Actual views may vary. Views depicted cannot be relied upon as being the actual view from any particular unit within the Condominium. No guarantees or representations whatsoever are made that existing or future views of the project and surrounding areas depicted by artist’s conceptual renderings, photographs or otherwise described herein, will be provided or, if provided, will be as depicted or described herein. Any view from a unit or from other portions of the property may in the future change, be limited or eliminated. Developer makes no guarantees regarding continuing existence of any view from a unit. Further, Developer makes no commitment or representation concerning development within Grove Isle or any property in proximity to or visible from a unit.

    All images, designs, sketches, renderings, photographs,, and graphic materials depicted herein are artist’s conceptual renderings, are based upon preliminary development plans, and are subject to change without notice. All such materials are not to scale and are shown solely for illustrative purposes. They should not
    be relied upon as representations, express or implied, of the final detail of the residences or amenities. All features, amenities, facilities, plans, specifications and statements contained in this brochure are based on preliminary development plans. Developer reserves the right to modify, revise, change or withdraw any or
    all of same in its sole discretion and without prior notice. No guarantees or representations whatsoever are made that any plans, specifications, features, amenities or facilities will be provided or, if provided, will be of the same type, size, location or nature as depicted or described herein. All improvements, designs and construction are subject to first obtaining the appropriate federal, state and local permits and approvals for same. Scenes may be of locations or activities not on Grove Isle. Models/lifestyle photos do not reflect racial or ethnic preference. Maps are not to scale and are for relative location purposes only.

    Ceiling heights are measured from top of slab to top of slab. As a result, actual clearance between the top of the finished floor coverings and the underside of the finished ceiling, drop ceiling or soffits will be less. All ceiling heights are approximate and subject to change.

    Stated square footage and dimensions are approximate and should not be used as representation of a unit’s precise or actual size. Any statement, verbal or written, regarding “air conditioned “ or “finished” area or any other description or modifier of the square footage size of any unit is a shorthand description of the
    manner in which the square footage was estimated and should not be construed to indicate certainty.

    We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity. We encourage and support an affirmative advertising, marketing and sales program in which there are no barriers to obtaining housing because of race, color, sex, religion, handicap, familial status or national origin.

    Void where prohibited by law. This is not intended to be an offer to sell or solicitation of offers to buy real estate to residents of any state or jurisdiction where prior registration is required or where prohibited by law, unless registered or exempt from registration. Copyright © 2017 Grove Isle Associates, LLLP. All rights
    reserved. The Markers Grove Isle is a registered trade mark or service mark of Grove Isle Associates, LLLP and/or its subsidiaries.”

  3. Developers hide

    February 25, 2018 at 10:23 pm

    Developers ignoring residents and neighborhood associations is now quite typical. 13th Floor Investments and Greenberg Traurig are purposely keeping residents uninformed on a 300 unit project in the MiMo District.

  4. Rebecca 2GI

    March 4, 2018 at 10:34 am

    So funny… the only resident quoted to be happy with Avila’s Markers project is in Building 1 and of course wants to stay anonomous.

    I also doubt the accuracy of the sales numbers asserted in the article given the serious legal and planning challenges the project continues to face.

  5. bld three owner/resident

    March 16, 2018 at 7:21 pm

    as a twenty year owner/resident i agree that the developer had an opportunity to honestly interact with long term owners/residents and failed

    • Mike Light

      April 28, 2018 at 3:34 am

      Yes… the developer basically has told us “what is mine is mine and what is yours is also mine….don’t agree well then get ready to spend big bucks for your lawyers”. Oh wait, then he adds… “don’t waste your money on a legal defense… while I spend $$$ on my lawyers … trust me.”

      No thank you Mr. Avila

  6. Jack GI I

    April 16, 2018 at 6:32 am

    Avila and boosters are no friends of Grove Isle. Take good advice before making any decision.

  7. Marty

    April 21, 2018 at 5:31 am

    “Construction plans would extend over a year” Yeah, sure thing Mr Avila.

    Estimates made earlier, given Grove Isle’s bridge limitations and surrounding bay depths, led islanders to believe that possible new residents of the project could move in at some point in 2020 — but only if work was cleared to start in early 2016.