The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School

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The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School

CavsConnect

The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School

CavsConnect

Coral Gables Resident Refuses to Sell His Home

Continuing to live surrounded by The Plaza Coral Gables, Orlando Capote firmly stands by his memories and family.
Orlando+Capote+gazes+around+his+former+neighborhood+now+being+covered+in+a+massive+Plaza.+Not+giving+up%2C+Orlando+doesnt+let+the+construction+stop+him+from+keeping+his+home.
Joseph Abrahantes
Orlando Capote gazes around his former neighborhood now being covered in a massive Plaza. Not giving up, Orlando doesn’t let the construction stop him from keeping his home.

Across Ponce de Leon, The Plaza Coral Gables is currently projecting its luxury stores and grand Loews hotel. However, upon closer examination of this massive property, right in the center you will find a singular house surrounded by stories of concrete.

Orlando Capote is the last homeowner standing from his former neighborhood, which has now been turned into one of the largest developments in Coral Gables history. Initial construction began in 2016, and all the homeowners were informed of the situation. Little by little, the neighborhood began dispersing as construction grew and the residents were given large sums of money for their cooperation. The money offered varied from 500,000 to 1.2 million dollars depending on the size of the houses.

“I would have sold my house for that amount of money. I could just buy a new one instantly and have money lef tover for other necessities. My memories would not be forgotten, and I could make new ones in another house. If Orlando really wants to stay then he has to make the best of it maintaining his house,” sophomore Alejandro Monroy said.

Despite the neighborhood coming to a close, Capote chose to remain in his house no matter how much he was offered. With his parents immigrating from Cuba with him along their side, his father had to constantly work to buy this house back in 1989. The house became a part of their family, and he grew very fond of the place.

In 2005, Orlando’s father passed away after having cared for him throughout many years. As construction began in 2016, he lived with his mother watching as construction grew in quantity. Finally in 2020 his mother passed away; she had expressed her wish of not selling the house for those four years. These profound memories are what caused Capote to reject the money, as his family and memories were more important to him.

What would you do in Orlando Capote's situation?

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“If I were the city, I would try to find a mutually agreeable solution that respects homeowners’ property rights and the public interest. I could do this by offering compensation for any problems. The city’s goal should be to find a balance between backing Orlando and the plaza,” freshman Erik Hjelm said.

Now, 2024 has arrived and with The Plaza Coral Gables having been completed for over a year, Capote is faced with many struggles. Facing debris from construction over the many years it took to build the plaza was not the sole extent of his problems. Due to the tall buildings surrounding his house, this is the first year his mango trees did not produce mangos due to the lack of sun. He also finds it difficult to have guests due to the lack of parking space he now experiences.

On top of all these issues, The Plaza Coral Gables have tried countless ways to make Capote leave by first offering up to 900,000 dollars. However, now that he has decided to stay put, rules have been applied against him more frequently during these times. Capote received a Coral Gables “Notice of Intent to Lien” and is charged with thousands of dollars in fines. This is an official letter of demand that tells Orlando his overdue payments must be submitted.

“I think Orlando has a right to stay in his house. It’s his property as long as he holds the title to the land. It reminds of the movie Up, in which the main character lives with his family and does not want to sell the house because of his emotions. It’s a cheap trick enforcing these zoning laws against Orlando but they are within their legal rights,” Mr. Miller said.

With the fines representing another form of the plaza trying to take the land, Capote has yet to budge. He has received countless fines for minor rule breaking, for reasons like not having a permit for his car canopy. Despite the permit issue, Capote says that he used the canopy to protect his car from debris issues.

The city of Coral Gables has failed in its attempts at removing the property, including closing in on Capote’s home or even putting plant pots right in front of it. Not looking to go anywhere anytime soon, he has until this March to sort out his permit and code issues with the city.

“If it were my family home, I would consider holding on to it. However, I don’t want my house to be in the middle of a mall and would sell it depending on what they would offer me. I get that it’s his family’s home but the memories are not going to go away by selling the house. The city could make this work caring for the house and posing it as a historical place,” freshman Vincenzo Lopez said.

Surrounded by countless shops and a grand hotel, Capote has managed to live there over the past year. He has been asked and tempted to leave, but has still not given up on his family nor his memories. Next time you go and visit The Plaza Coral Gables, make sure to stop by and think about what the location was a decade ago.

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About the Contributors
Santiago Rodriguez, CavsConnect Staff Writer
Santiago Rodriguez is a current freshman entering the International Baccalaureate program here at Coral Gables Senior High. He hopes to pursue his interest in running by joining the Cross Country and Track and Field team. Despite his love for running, his biggest opponents are mosquitos. If you find him outdoors, bug spray is his best friend. He has big hopes for his future in Gables such as joining the National Honor Society, International Baccalaureate Honor Society, Science National Honor Society and possibly becoming Editor in Chief of CavsConnect. His favorite seasons are summer and fall for the many reasons of sports, weather and vacation. Wanting to continue to be a above average student, Santiago works harder, taking multiple Advanced Placement classes during high school. Hoping he has a great year at Gables, he is eager to be working in CavsConnect.
Joseph Abrahantes, CavsConnect Business Manager
Joseph Abrahantes, a sophomore in the International Baccalaureate program and second year member of CavsConnect, is excited to come back as the publication's Business Manager. Hoping to work in STEM in the future, Joseph plans to get more involved with the Science National Honor Society as well as Gables' Science, Engineering, Communication, Mathematics and Enrichment club to further his experience. Additionally, his love for biology has driven him to become a tutor with Gables’ Interact club. Joseph fuels his academic spirit with his 10 hour long playlist, ranging from Kendrick and Baby Keem to Doja Cat and SZA, whose songs he knows by heart.
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