Coconut Grove Playhouse Revitalization Effort Clears State Hurdle

Aug 21, 2013

The Coconut Grove Playhouse was built in the Mediterranean Revival style.
Credit Arianna Prothero/WLRN

One of Miami's leading theaters was shuttered in 2006, but an effort to revive the Coconut Grove Playhouse has now cleared an important hurdle with the state.

On Tuesday, Gov. Rick Scott and his cabinet approved a plan from Miami-Dade County and Florida International University to rebuild and reopen the historic Miami theater pending resolution of some outstanding financial debts and claims on the property.

The county's Cultural Affairs Director Michael Spring addressed the Cabinet during a meeting at Miami-Dade College Wolfson Campus.

The goal, Spring said, is to revive quality regional theater in the Grove. Local theater company Gables Stage would operate the playhouse while providing FIU students hands on experience in the industry.

"We've insured amazing educational opportunities through this innovative partnership,” said Spring. “I want to point out that we've taken a good hard look at this model... and (it) is a celebrated one across the United States."

Miami-Dade has $20 million in capital funds allocated to see the project through.

The state took back ownership of the property last year from a nonprofit board that was tasked with running the playhouse. Critics say the board financially mismanaged the 86-year-old theater.

The county and FIU still have to settle hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt against the playhouse for their revitalization project to move forward.