The Wawa Saga Continues

A Surprise Ruling Stops the Controversial Gas Station 

The site for construction of a Wawa gas station and convenience store on Grand Avenue and US1 was prepared, an adjacent community center was built, and a homeowners’ group in the historically black section of Coral Gables was dreaming of the neighborhood housing renovation and history museum that money from the long-term lease would provide. 

Then, during a Jan. 6 Zoom hearing on a lawsuit brought by a group of Carver Elementary School parents and residents trying to stop the project, Circuit Court Judge Michael Hanzman stepped all over what had once seemed a done deal. Referring to the city’s interpretation of a resolution governing decisions on what could be built on the 1.7-acre Grand Avenue site, Hanzman called the city’s actions “blatantly illegal.” 

Hanzman’s comments sent city officials scrambling. Within days City Attorney Miriam Ramos issued a statement saying, “the city wishes to seek a stay of the litigation in order to allow for time to explore a resolution to this matter.” 

The Wawa Saga Continues
An Existing Wawa Gas Station

“The writing is on the wall,” said Mayor Vince Lago. “You’ve seen the judge’s comments. We need to look beyond Wawa to find a resolution. If not Wawa, what is it? Multifamily housing, a shopping center? Everything is on the table.” Everything, that is, except a six-pump gas station and convenience store which opponents declared would cause harm to the students of Carver Elementary and Middle Schools across the street. 

Lago emphasized that he wants neighborhood residents, including members of the Lola B. Walker Homeowners’ Association (which owns the property), to be a part of the conversation. “They deserve a financial vehicle to properly fund” local projects, he said. 

As to what will become of the Wawa project, that is to be determined. The city will most likely find another location or could be faced with a multi-million-dollar lawsuit from Wawa for rescinding permission to build.