The Coconut Grove Theater Foundation, a community nonprofit spearheading the grassroots effort to renovate and restore the long-shuttered Coconut Grove Playhouse, recently announced that it has secured $11 million in private donations and pledges.
This significant financial accomplishment means that the Foundation’s two-theater vision — endorsed by Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and other elected city officials and civic leaders — has enough funds to guarantee successful construction, opening and go-forward operations of the historic facility.
In addition, the Foundation announced that R.J. Heisenbottle Architects, South Florida’s premier historic preservation design firm, has joined its development team.
“We are extremely grateful for the generous financial support we’ve received from the local community,” said Foundation president Lewis “Mike” Eidson. “Those financial resources, combined with the widespread encouragement we have received from across so much of the entire Greater Miami community, gives us great confidence that we can put the Playhouse back on the national theatrical map, where it belongs.
“The Foundation is 100 percent committed to delivering a vibrant regional theater that our community can enjoy and be proud of,” Eidson added. “This incredible commitment of financial support for our plan — and the addition of Rich Heisenbottle to our team effort — brings the Foundation’s vision ever more closer to becoming reality.”
The Foundation’s comprehensive plan includes a fully restored historic Playhouse building, preserving and restoring its many significant architectural features, that houses a 700-seat regional theater managed by the best and brightest theater professionals available from across the nation.
It also includes a smaller 200-seat studio theater, an extensive conservatory to engage and train future generations of actors and artists, a new stage house and dressing rooms and staff offices, and Grove-friendly ancillary spaces. All the performance venues will be state-of-the-art, and the Foundation’s plan also includes a multimillion-dollar endowment fund to ensure that the theater remains financially sustainable for generations to come.
One of South Florida’s most successful contractors, the local office of global construction firm Skanska, has carefully reviewed the detailed Heisenbottle architectural drawings and estimated the Foundation’s project costs at $42.5 million.
Combined with approved and likely public funding from the City of Miami, Miami-Dade County, State of Florida and federal historic tax credits, the Foundation’s $11 million in private funding brings project revenues to a total $47.5 million — $5 million more than necessary to reopen a revitalized Coconut Grove Playhouse.
R.J. Heisenbottle Architects brings vast local experience and expertise to the Playhouse project. Its many award-winning renovation projects include Miami landmarks such as Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Freedom Tower, Miami City Hall, Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, Colony Theater and Trinity Episcopal Cathedral.
“I’m honored and proud to join the Foundation in its efforts to restore the Coconut Grove Playhouse to its past greatness,” Heisenbottle said. “For this cultural gem to have been shuttered since 2006 is a community disgrace and a civic embarrassment. This theater operated fantastically, artistically as well as financially, for many decades. We must reclaim that rich legacy. I am convinced that the Foundation has a strategic, attainable plan to bring it back, and I look forward to doing my part to see this plan through to success.”