Grove waterfront may see big-buck improvements

Two plans that would bring millions of dollars in improvements to Dinner Key from Kennedy Park to Peacock Park are poised to move forward this month.

The Coconut Grove Waterfront Master Plan, nearly three years in the making, is set to be presented Tuesday to the city's Waterfront Advisory Board before going to the Miami City Commission for a July 24 vote.

Suggested changes in the plan include demolishing the Coconut Grove Expo Center and replacing it with park space and a natural amphitheater, and moving the Coconut Grove Sailing Club and U.S. Sailing Center to facilities near Dinner Key's south bulkhead.

In the past, the plan hit snags with the community and city. In June 2006, dissatisfied city officials threatened to fire consultant Sasaki Associates. And a year ago the plan was placed on the City Commission agenda, only to be pulled by City Manager Pete Hernandez, who said more discussion and tweaks were needed.

But as the city prepares to present the plan once again at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Miami City Hall, 3500 Pan American Dr., stakeholders and activists are feeling comfortable with what has been proposed.

''I think we're finally at a point where all the groups that had problems are now pretty happy,'' said Michelle Niemeyer, chairwoman of the Coconut Grove Village Council and the head of a group created to keep tabs on the plan.

Even the Sailing Club and Sailing Center, which have criticized the plan in the past because it proposes to relocate the organizations, have been comforted by a series of meetings held to address their concerns.

Jeff Rubin, vice president of the Sailing Center, said Wednesday that the organization still prefers to stay in its recently constructed facility, but the city has addressed all the organization's concerns about moving to a new location.

''They've shown their good faith to listen to us and we need to appreciate those concerns and proceed cautiously to make sure our wishes are granted'' Rubin said.

And the Sailing Club's administration has been comforted by a written commitment from the city that the club would not be moved before a new facility is ready, and ongoing negotiations to draft a new lease agreement.

''The big question now is, how will this all be paid for?'' said Marc Buller, past commodore of the Sailing Club and a member of its Future Development Committee.

That question is to be addressed Tuesday, as the city will unveil cost estimates for the project.

And as City Commissioners are poised to weigh widespread changes to the area, another long-sought Dinner Key project is moving forward.

Last week, the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a permit to allow the construction of a managed mooring field at Dinner Key Marina.

That permit could be in the city's hands within the next two weeks, said Daniel Newhoff, Miami's assistant director of public facilities.

''We're looking to start construction in October or November,'' Newhoff said. “That should take about three months, which leaves us opening in February 2009.''

The mooring field project includes the installation of 225 screw-down mooring buoys in Dinner Key's outer anchorage.

''This is going to provide a safe, secure and economical solution to the lack of available docking space in Miami-Dade County,'' Newhoff said.

 

by David Smiley – the Miami Herald July 8, 2008 

POPULARITY OF VACATION / INVESTMENT HOMES

It might surprise you to learn that a third of all homes sold during the past year were second homes – those to be used as a vacation residence or investment property.  This was revealed in the “2008 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey,” conducted by the National Association of Realtors.  The survey showed that 12 percent of home sales were vacation homes, while 21 percent were purchased for investment purposes.

Even in a generally sluggish sales market, the appeal of owning a private vacation home is strong.  It provides a get-away retreat from the stresses of a busy work and home life. 

            “Vacation home purchases are largely tied to lifestyle consideration,” it was noted in the NAR report.  “Households seek to own an additional home in a desirable destination.”

            Other buyers see the current market as an opportunity to acquire homes as investments, sometimes at below-market bargain prices. The purchase of a home for investment is a dollars-and-cents decision resting in part on current cash flow from rental income and expectations of future profit gains.  The motivation to buy investment homes is partially driven by investors seeking to diversify their assets and generate income.

            Check with your loan officer to see if and how this may apply to your loan.

GREEN: THE NEWEST TREND IN LUXURY HOME CONSTRUCTION

With the subject of global warming coming front and center in the news these days, architects are looking for solutions that will not only satisfy the tastes of the luxury homeowner, but will appeal to their environmental conscience as well.

            The new “green” home will be built from recycled materials such as Syndecrete — a lightweight concrete or sustainable woods such as bamboo.

            Solar power is making huge strides. The ugly solar panels that stick up from your roof top are a thing of past. Solar panels are now artfully set in among the roofing tiles. And with a grid-tied PV system you don’t have to worry about cold water on cloudy days. It will automatically switch over to your standard electrical system when the sun disappears.

Low-emissivity glass reduces interior heat and ultraviolet rays from the sun. In cool months, the inside is warmed by a combination of passive solar energy stored in the floors and walls and a hydronic radiant-heat system.

As our global environment calls for a life style that will consciously support the natural world around us, designers will continually create newer technologies that will meet our changing needs.