Coral Gables in the Headlines

Some of the Top Gables Stories from Last Month

Ranch House Demo Delayed

The controversial tear-down of a historic Coral Gables ranch-style house (shown above) has been given a temporary stay by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Lisa Walsh. The house, owned by a member of the prominent Valls family (owners of Versailles and La Carreta restaurants), was to be demolished after the city commission voted in May to uphold the Coral Gables Historic Preservation Board’s decision to deny historic designation. That decision had been appealed by neighbor Maria Cerda and historic preservationists. The house at 1208 Asturia Ave. was designed by Deco architect Russell Pancoast (of Bass Museum fame) in the 1930s. The city’s office of Historic Preservation had recommended the house be designated historic as one of the first ranch-style houses built in the U.S.

UM Prof Pleads Guilty

One of the more ironic criminal cases in Coral Gables came to a conclusion last month when UM professor Bruce Bagley pled guilty to two counts of money laundering. Bagley is the author of the 2015 book “Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime, and Violence in the Americas Today” who then allegedly laundered more than $2 million in funds illegally secreted out of Venezuela. Bagley now faces sentencing October 1 by U.S. District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff. The 73-year-old professor of international studies could face up to 40 years in prison.

Tempest in a Tea Pot

Talk about beating a dead horse. Late last month a report obtained by the Miami Herald showed that an anonymous letter written three years ago accusing Police Chief Ed Hudak of immoral behavior was not written by then-City Manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark. But a second anonymous letter, also not written by her, may have been addressed by her. The pro-bono investigation by former U.S. Attorney Roberto Martinez said his forensic expert concluded that it was “highly probable” that the letter was addressed by Swanson-Rivenbark.

Meanwhile, Swanson-Rivenbark hired her own attorney to investigate the investigation, and his forensic examiner determined it was “very probable” that she did not address the second letter. Swanson-Rivenbark resigned after her original investigation into Hudak was denounced as a personal vendetta. Can we just leave it at that? We disagree with the Herald’s assertion that the story has been “the stuff of water cooler talk in Coral Gables for three years.” This was more an excuse to run the photo of Hudak with female deputies at a pool party – long since debunked as harmless –that started the wild goose chase.

Farmers Market Returns

In booths six feet apart, and with masks and gloves on at all times, the merchants who sell bread, vegetables, fruits, candles, fragrances, snacks, flowers and gifts are back at the Shops at Merrick Park Farmers Market. The market is open Sundays 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. During the COVID the Shops had set up the market inside the garage as a drive-through.