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Some parents concerned over Miami church’s plan to shutter kids’ school in condo deal

·3 min read

Parents of students at the Key Point Christian Academy — which would be demolished if Miami First Presbyterian church’s proposed condo land deal is approved in a vote this weekend — said Friday they are not happy about the plan.

“People have been going here since pre-K all the way through eighth grade so ... it’s a family community,” said Lindsay Keller, a 30-year-old mother who lives nearby in the EPIC Miami Residences in Brickell. She said her 7-year-old daughter, Gabby, loves the academy, especially grabbing Oreo Milkshakes and french fries after school from the food trucks in the parking lot behind it.

Keller said she received an email Thursday stating that the church is evaluating a proposal to permit development on a portion of the property that includes the academy. The email said the church had the best interest of the school’s children and their families at heart and that it plans to honor the church and school’s three-year contract.

More than 250 students attend the school, which is attached to the church on Brickell Avenue and located behind it. Tuition begins at $13,919 for preschoolers and about $17,000 to $17,500 for elementary and middle schoolers. Students are also required to select a $2,000 organic food plan, according to the academy’s registration packet.

Diana Cazacu, a writer and psychology student, has a 4-year-old daughter, Emily, who attends the academy. Cazacu said she’s in a parent group chat where they have expressed their disappointment with the potential land sale. Her biggest concern: finding a new school for Emily after she’s already made friends and become acclimated to her teachers and classwork.

“I live in Brickell, so it’s very comfortable for us to have the school, the church, the location,” Cazacu told the Miami Herald. “There’s so many buildings around; I don’t think they need it. That’s enough.”

Cazacu, who has attended the First Miami Presbyterian church for four years, said she plans to tune in Sunday for a Zoom vote on the proposal by church members. She said she will oppose it.

First Miami Presbyterian Church, the oldest organized congregation in the city, sits on one of the last available waterfront properties in Brickell. Although the church cannot be demolished or relocated as a historic site, it is considering selling its parking lot and the academy building to 13th Floor Investments, a Brickell-based firm. The church stands to receive $240 million, according to proposal documents.

Brickell residents and those who work there have said they are concerned about increased traffic along with diminution of one of the last green spaces in the area encased by high-rises.

Gabriella Petersson, a 31-year-old who has two kids in the school, shares a different sentiment. She said she agrees with the church’s push to sell part of the property.

“Honestly, if it was me, I know a lot of people they don’t like it, but I’m like come on, if I get offered that money, I would do it, too,” Petersson said.

Her daughter Isabelle, 7, and her son Mateo, 5, have attended the academy since they were 2 years old. If the school is closed, she said she’ll find another for her little ones.

“People are always complaining, they’re complaining about the parties here and everything,” said Petersson, who lives in a Brickell residential building. “They can move to Coral Gables, move to another neighborhood. The skyline here is so beautiful, it’s really nice what they’re doing here, so I’m not against it.”

For Keller, while she recognizes the limited available real estate in the area and the influx of people moving to Miami, she also expressed concern about the increasing traffic even though she lives less than a half mile away from the school.

“I don’t feel like they’re accommodating all of the people that are moving here,” she said. “We can barely make it over the bridge ... in time to get to school some days.”

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