MIAMI -

Miami-Dade County and Florida International University announced Wednesday their lease with the State of Florida for the Coconut Grove Playhouse is now in effect.

The 50-year lease agreement allows the county and FIU to move ahead with plans to return theater to Coconut Grove.

Authorities said the agreement was possible through those working in the county, FIU and the city of Miami, who were able to reduce encumbrances on the property from approximately $3.5 million to less than $120,000, which will be paid for by revenue from the site's parking operations.

"This is real progress in advancing Miami-Dade County as a global center for culture and commerce. Now we can get started on the work to ensure that this important site is reactivated in order to present great theater experiences for families and children throughout South Florida," said Carlos A. Gimenez, Mayor of Miami-Dade County.

"This is an exciting development for our students and faculty," said Brian Schriner, dean of the FIU College of Architecture & The Arts. "We look forward to collaborating with GableStage, a world-class regional theater company, to develop programs that provide superb educational experiences, ranging from student internships to university-sponsored performances and community activities."

In August Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet approved the new lease for the Coconut Grove Playhouse.

"With the support of Gov. Scott and members of the Florida Cabinet, this project has been able to move forward, which will provide opportunities for this community," said Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr., Florida Department of Environmental Protection. "We also appreciate the personal involvement of Miami-Dade Property Appraiser Carlos Lopez-Cantera, whose passion for the arts community played a vital role in bringing this project to a successful conclusion for this area."

"We are delighted that this great theater can begin its next era of serving Coconut Grove and our entire city," said City of Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff. "The Coconut Grove Playhouse is a lynchpin for the economic, educational and cultural vitality of Miami. We are looking forward to continuing to collaborate with the county and FIU on the exciting work of bringing this important part of Coconut Grove back to life."

County officials said the next steps in the development of the theater include initiating the county process to select an architectural and engineering team, and finalizing an operating and management agreement with GableStage to manage and program the theater, once completed.

In addition, officials said the county and FIU will work closely with the city of Miami and the Miami Parking Authority on the evolution of the project.