Plans to Save the Coconut Grove Playhouse

Despite setbacks, the community continues to fight to revive the historic Coconut Grove Playhouse in an effort to keep it under public ownership and avert a sale by the state to private developers.

A collaborative effort by FIU and Miami-Dade County could help restore the once vibrant Coconut Grove Playhouse to its former glory.

Under the plan, the State of Florida would turn the property over to Florida International University, while Miami-Dade County would rebuild the shuttered theater using $20 million in previously approved and bond and bed-tax money.

The proposal includes a partnership between FIU’s theater program and GableStage, a professional theater company based at the Biltmore Hotel. FIU students would use the playhouse for student productions and community events, while GableStage would host professional shows and provide student training in the technical aspects of theatrical production.

The theater is rich with history, having opened its doors in 1927 as a film house, and later reconstructed as a playhouse in the mid 1950s. Actors like Liza Minelli and Jessica Tandy once graced the stage.

Closed in 2006 due to an accumulating debt, the State of Florida took back ownership of the property in 2011. Unfortunately, the doors have remained shuttered and the building has gone into foreclosure and disrepair.

Could this new proposal be the playhouse’s last hope at survival? If state and county officials can’t come to an agreement, this once vibrant landmark theater will likely be bulldozed to the ground.

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