Coral Gables sues trolley garage developer

Astor built garage in Coconut Grove


CORAL GABLES – The city of Coral Gables sued a development company, alleging it didn't comply with their agreement when building a garage for its trolleys.

The lawsuit, filed Monday, states that the city of Coral Gables is suing Astor Trolley, LLC ("Astor"), and Merrick Manor, LLC.

When Astor wanted to buy the city's current garage, near Coral Gables High School, to build condominiums, Coral Gables said yes, but only if the developer built a new trolley garage first. Astor decided on a site on Douglas Road in Coconut Grove.

The lawsuit says Astor began building despite knowing that zoning may not permit the garage for Coral Gables' intended use. The city claims because Astor built the garage within commercial zoning -- not the industrial-designation zoning needed -- it failed to comply with their agreement.

Astor claims the city's intended use is permitted, as well as authorized, within the zoning.

Coral Gables City Attorney Craig Leen issued the following statement: "The City of Coral Gables is asking for a declaratory judgment from the Court because of the City's belief that the zoning is not correct under Miami 21, and is therefore inconsistent with applicable law. The City is not required to accept a building that is zoned improperly under its contract with the developer. Instead, the City is entitled to receive a building that is zoned correctly for the intended use. This declaratory judgment action is intended to resolve this zoning issue with certainty and finality."

Mario Garcia-Serra, Astor's legal counsel, issued the following statement: "The City of Coral Gables is seeking a declaratory judgment to confirm that the City of Miami¹s zoning approval for the new trolley building was appropriate. We have maintained from the beginning that the building was designed and constructed in adherence with the City of Miami Zoning Code and feel confident that the law is on our side and that the Court will confirm this."