Coral Gables Now Suing Over Trolleygate
Almost finished: The polluting vehicle maintenance facility on August 26, 2013

The residents of West Grove woke up to good news this morning. The Miami Herald is reporting the City of Coral Gables is now suing Astor Development over the Trolleygate diesel bus maintenance garage. It was just last month when Not Now Silly was forced to report in the story West Grove Residents Lose ► Polluting Trolley Bus Garage Will Go Ahead:

The residents of west Coconut Grove had their hopes dashed yesterday when Miami-Dade County Judge Ronald G. Dresnick ruled that a polluting diesel bus garage will go ahead in their residential neighbourhood as planned.

What a difference a few weeks make. As the Miami-Herald’s Jenny Staletovich reports:

Coral Gables has sued the company building a controversial trolley garage for the city in neighboring Coconut Grove, saying the garage doesn’t comply with zoning rules in the surrounding historic black neighborhood.

And unless a judge rules otherwise, Coral Gables will walk away from the deal it struck with the developer, City Attorney Craig Leen said Wednesday.

Oddly enough the Coral Gables lawsuit [PDF] is based on some of the same grounds as the resident’s lawsuit that was rejected, but comes at it from a business standpoint, according to Ralf Brookes, part of the pro bono legal team that represented the community last month.

“We’re delighted to see Coral Gables has filed suit. Of course we agree with the city of Coral Gables that the intended use is not commercial and is a government vehicle maintenance facility is an industrial use. That’s what we have been arguing all along, but Judge Resnick ruled he didn’t have jurisdiction,” Brookes told Not Now Silly by telephone this morning.

The City of Coral Gables is alleging in its suit that Astor Development is not complying with the Miami 21 Plan and that, therefore, it is not obligated to go ahead with a second deal to convey Coral Gables land to Astor for a huge mixed use development. The Coral Gables suit is asking the judge, who will not be Resnick, to either rule the polluting diesel bus maintenance facility conforms to Miami’s official plan, or allow the city to back out of the contract allowing Astor to redevelop the land on which the current polluting diesel bus maintenance facility sits.

If the judge rules in favour of Coral Gables, what would happen to the building that’s almost finished? One community activist sees this as an opportunity for the struggling neighbourhood. An adaptive re-use of the building could include a farmer’s market or an incubator for small business opportunities. I see it as being large enough to become an artist’s’ cooperative, like The Rust Belt Market in Ferndale, Michigan.

Whatever the building becomes it is beginning to look like everybody’s predictions will come true: This building will never be used as a vehicle maintenance facility.

YouTube videos I took of the soon-to-be mixed use building on August 26, 2013. They show the relationship of this building to the quiet residential neighbourhood and the One Grove mural:

About Headly Westerfield

Calling himself “A liberally progressive, sarcastically cynical, iconoclastic polymath,” Headly Westerfield has been a professional writer all his adult life.

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