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State of Florida will retake Coconut Grove Playhouse in 30 days

September 13th, 2012 Written By Carol Pawley

After years of mismanagement, the state of Florida will finally take control of the historic theater in the next 30 days, the Miami Herald reported. Al Dougherty, Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection deputy secretary, made the announcement this week, citing the properties extended closure and disrepair.

The state ceded the playhouse to the nonprofit board in 2004, but retained the right to take it back if the theater was not being used. Mired in debt, the playhouse closed abruptly in 2006. The county has already earmarked some $20 million for renovating the property. The state’s action was triggered by a letter from State Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, the outgoing House majority leader, who has long backed efforts to reopen the playhouse but grew frustrated by the lack of a resolution.

The city of Miami, meanwhile, has been threatening to foreclose on the playhouse because of more than $140,000 in fines for building-code violations. The landmark 1927 Mediterranean Revival building has been slowly deteriorating since closing, and has been broken into numerous times by homeless people and vandals.

Grove residents and business owners have been clamoring for the playhouse to reopen, saying its closure blighted a section of picturesque Main Highway and contributed to an economic downturn in the village’s downtown, including the failure of several nearby restaurants that depended on theater crowds.

 

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