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Developers Continue To Destroy Charles Avenue

The 2 side-by-side shotgun homes at 3295 and 3297 Charles Avenue

As Miami City Hall develops a plan to save the historic homes in West Grove, one man is fighting to knock down 2 of them, which is 4% of what remains.

Andrew Rasken is a real estate agent/developer who already owns several properties in Coconut Grove. Recently he purchased — through a shell corporation — two of the historic shotgun houses on Charles Avenue, directly across the street from the replicated Mariah Brown house. Now he’s petitioning Miami to knock them down to build what he claims will be his family home. There are several reasons to suspect that he just wants to flip these properties after he builds some kind Big White Box mega-home on the lot.

There is also reason to suspect that he’s taken Demolition by Neglect to an entirely new level.

According to an anonymous source Rasken [allegedly] had some workmen remove a support pillar behind the house. Then he got the city’s Unsafe Structures Section to declare it an unsafe structure.

In addition, recent pictures of the house by this writer shows brand new damage where the siding has been ripped away in some spots on the sides and back of the house. This will only allow further wood rot and weather damage. Maybe we should call this Demolition by Demolition.

Now Rasken finds himself in a Catch 22: He wants a demolition permit to tear down the houses, but Miami refuses to issue one until the city decides the fate of all the historic homes in the West Grove, of which these are two. Meanwhile, Miami’s code compliance department is ordering him (or his corporation) to bring the houses up to city code.

One reason to suspect Rasken’s motives can be found in the pages of the Miami Herald under this headline:

A developer wanted to raze a 99-year-old Grove cottage. Then came a shocking ruling.

The article describes a pitched battle between residents of Coconut Grove and the very same Andrew Rasken, developer.

In lushly verdant Coconut Grove, where a wave of ungainly residential redevelopment has mowed down trees and homes by the score, at least one house — late local legend Charlie Cinnamon’s century-old cottage — is still standing, at least for now. To nearly everyone’s surprise, the tiny wooden house has survived the first attempt at demolition by a developer.

In a rare and unexpected move, Miami’s zoning board blocked demolition of Cinnamon’s 1919 cottage, which sits at the edge of an expansive tree-covered property where a developer hopes to build a large house.

It’s unclear whether the board’s decision will survive an almost-certain appeal by the developer, Andrew Raskin [sic]. But Thursday night’s 5-3 vote has heartened Grove residents fighting back against what they contend is the city’s failure to enforce zoning rules amid an onslaught by developers that’s stripping the village’s residential neighborhoods, Miami’s oldest, of their historic look and feel.

According to the Herald article the Cinnamon house only occupies 1,000 square feet of a 14,000 square foot lot, leaving loads of room for Rasken to build his house. However, another wrinkle in his plans are that the neighbours will also resist the building of anything that doesn’t reflect the historic composition and architecture of the Grove. In other words: A Big White Box.

The assumption is that Rasken also wants to build a Big White Box on Charles Avenue, which has been designated a Historic Road as the oldest street in Miami.

Here are some of the other pictures I took yesterday.

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