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Miami Board Rejects Plan For A School At Villa Woodbine In Coconut Grove

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Plans to build an all-boys school at the decades-long wedding venue Villa Woodbine took a hit. The new owner of the historic property and building will not be able to break ground on new construction.

The City of Miami Historic and Environmental Board rejected plans for Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart to build on the three acres at 2167 S. Bayshore Dr. The decision shot down plans for a two-story Mediterranean Revival-style building designed by Richard J. Heisenbottle, who frequently works on historic restorations. The building would have housed enough classrooms for 336 students and administrative offices by a new courtyard, play area and pool.

The all-girls school has a contract to buy the 3.7-acre property, valued between $8 million to $10 million, from John O. Scurtis, the father of Cynthia Scurtis, the ex-wife of baseball champion Alex Rodriguez.

Carrollton has 15 days to file an appeal. The discussion of what Carrollton will be permitted to do with the property continues with the Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board in January. The board will analyze traffic studies and consider whether the existing buildings or plans for future construction can be used as a school. The scope of review will consider turning lanes, vehicle circulation drop-off and pickup times.

“Traffic is concern,” said Isaac Kodsi, a neighbor to Villa Woodbine, father of a Carrollton student and opponent of the plans. “We don’t know what the unintended consequences are going to be.”

The conversation in the new year will likely draw much opposition from residents across the city, said Rose Pujol, leader and founder of the Bayshore in the Grove, which opposes the new school.

“It’s the button that gets neighbors passionate,” Pujol said. “Traffic concerns should worry the entire city, not just District 2 or the Grove. The addition of another school at Villa Woodbine on the already busy South Bayshore Drive and Tigertail Avenue would increase traffic leading into and out of the area by 8%.”

“The property is also in close proximity to another school,” Kodsi said. “Ransom Everglades sits 200 yards away and,  the middle school continues to renovate its campus. We can’t imagine Ransom is not going to want to enroll more kids. We’re looking at a snapshot today but it’s a bigger picture.”

Kodsi will continue to rally with neighbors and fellow opponents.

“If Carrollton continues to come back, we’re going to continue fighting,” Kodsi said.

The current, exclusive tenant of Villa Woodbine, Bill Hansen of Bill Hansen Luxury Catering and Event Production, said his clients will be elated by the news.

“Many brides in the coming year or two will be happy to know that Villa Woodbine will be available for their wedding,” Hansen said. “Hopefully, the length of our stay delighting brides will continue until a final decision is made.”

The original villa, designed by famed architect Walter C. De Garmo, was completed in the 1920s. De Garmo also designed the Woman’s Club of Coconut Grove and Miami’s City Hall. It was designated as part of the Historic Preservation Overlay District in 1988.

Source: Miami Herald

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