stat counter

Thursday, January 18, 2018


        Last night we won for a change. Developer Andrew Raskin and his attorney came to Miami's City Hall asking for permission to tear down Charlie Cinnamon's historic cottage in South Coconut Grove. Charlie died there, at age 94, fourteen months ago. The city's zoning board voted "no".


    They pointed out that the City of Miami does a poor job of preserving its past. This house was occupied by one of Miami's most colorful and beloved public figures. Charles Cinnamon was South Florida's "Mr. Broadway".  His rich history included fighting in WW II, starting the Coconut Grove Art Festival, and, as a publicist, bringing live theater in South Florida for sixty years.
Everybody loved Charlie for his warm personality and his many good deeds. 

    After he passed, I helped his family sort out decades of awards, theater memorabilia, and the three tuxedos he wore to opening nights. They filled his charming, 1919 cottage which is nestled in a expansive park-like setting.
                         Charlie's front lawn

      The house was filled with beautiful art when Charlie died.

    Developer Raskin bought the cottage on its double lot knowing its rich history. He wants to  build an huge, 7,400 square-foot house there, a big white box that will be much larger than the houses around it (our 1930 cottage, four doors down, is 22%  the size of his proposed mega-structure). Raskin's plans included replacing Charlie's cottage with a swimming pool.
      A zoning board member pointed out, "You still have room for pool and your mansion while leaving Charlie's house intact".  Raskin's attorney responded by saying that the house was a a tear-down, an "old shack", and that hauling it away it will allow for more "green space". Most board members were not impressed. They knew it was occupied recently. Until two months ago, the developer had been using it for his office.

 TWO FOUNDERS -  Charlie posing in his front yard with Herb Hiller as they participated in 2014's King Mango Bike Parade.  Each of two founded great Grove events, the annual art festival and the West Grove's Goombay Festival.

       The zoning board pointed out that there was no public record of the City's preservation office considering the house's history.  Their "notes" only said that the property's trees should preserved.  No one from our city's commission was there to fight for the house.  
    Grove Attorney Tucker Gibbs made a great argument for saving the structure. Six of us neighbors backed him by asking the board, "Please help us save Charlie's house. It represents Miami's history and what we love about Coconut Grove".

      Most of the board members seemed to agree. After 90 minutes of testimony and discussion, they voted 5 to 3 save the old, wooden cottage.
     The developer may contest the decision in court.  If he does, we will be there to fight for Charlie and historic preservation again.

No comments:

Post a Comment