Coconut Grove Playhouse Going For That Crack Den Aesthetic

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Tom Falco
Ever since Florida's Department of Environmental Protection retook control of the shuttered Coconut Grove Playhouse last year, the storied structure has been left to rot. And until the state closes a deal with Florida International University, Miami-Dade County, and Gablestage to open a new theater on the site, it will likely remain an eyesore, according to emails between a Grove activist and the department of environmental protection staffer in charge of the storied building.

The theater was managed by a non-profit company called the Coconut Grove Playhouse from 1980 until 2004, when a mountain of debt and mismanagement forced the group to close the doors. Last October, the state exercised a clause that reverted the title to its control if the property was not used as a theater. Since then, the Department of Environmental Protection has been setting up the potential lease or sale.

playhouse2.jpg
Tom Falco
In April, the partnership between FIU, the county, and Gablestage was the only entity to submit a proposal that calls for a new 300-seat theater with an annual $2.6 million budget to be built on the current parking lot using about $20 million in bond money already earmarked by voters. However the deal is being held up by the threat of lawsuits by the Playhouse's previous debtors, who are owed about $4 million.


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