Historic Miami Beach hotel bought for new real estate project

Miami Beach’s historic Deauville Beach Resort, a beachfront hotel being demolished after a five-year closure, was bought by Miami Dolphins owner and developer Stephen Ross for construction as a luxury hotel and condos.

Ross and Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber announced the purchase of the 3.8-acre property on Monday. Ross, president and founder of Related Companies, said he brought in world-renowned architect Frank Gehry to design the new project.

The Deauville, 6701 Collins Ave., was built in 1957 and was the site of a Beatles performance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964. But the hotel has remained vacant since an electrical fire in 2017 forced customers out and sparked a lawsuit from the City of Miami Beach alleging the owners neglected the building to seek demolition.

The impending demolition of the Deauville, located in a historic district, has angered conservatives and North Beach advocates who want to preserve the city’s history. An appeal of the city’s demolition order was denied on Friday.

In a statement, Ross said he understood Deauville’s importance to Miami Beach residents and wanted to pay homage to the original building while creating a “transformational project.” Ross grew up in Miami Beach and graduated from Miami Beach Senior High School.

“As a Miami Beach native, this project is personal to me,” he said. “I know what this site means to the people of Miami Beach, and I know the potential to create a truly special development that honors Deauville’s history while creating an iconic place for generations to come.”

Related Companies is behind New York’s Hudson Yards and Deutsche Bank Center. Gehry, a Pritzker Prize-winning architect, is known for projects such as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao in Spain and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Gehry, now 93, also designed the New World Center in Miami Beach.

Gehry, who visited the site on Sunday, said in a statement that he was honored to partner with the Miami Beach community and Ross.

“This site presents an unparalleled opportunity to create a landmark for the next generation,” he said.

The sale price has not been disclosed and specific plans for the proposed project have not been released.

Gelber, who hailed the purchase as an opportunity to revitalize the Deauville property, said in an email to residents that the project may require a referendum to give Ross “the ability and flexibility to do something transformative. “.

He said he would ask the city commission to hold a referendum on the November ballot related to the project, but it is still unclear what development incentives Ross is asking for.

“It’s not looking to increase density but needs more flexibility in design possibilities,” Gelber said. “He wants to do something special and beautiful in his old neighborhood. Something we will all be proud of.

Miami Beach’s Historic Preservation Rules give the Historic Preservation Board the authority to decide how the Deauville will be replaced after it is demolished. City policy includes a “presumption” that the demolished building will only be replaced with a new structure that has the same height, mass and area as the previous structure on the property. The Historic Preservation Council also has the right to demand that the new project be built as a replica of the Deauville.

In his email, Gelber said it would be impractical to require Deauville to be recreated.

“If we hold out, the property will remain undeniably undeveloped and vacant indefinitely,” he said.

In order for the project to move forward, Gelber said he wanted the maximum number of life units to be lower than what is currently allowed. He also plans to negotiate public benefits on the project and he said he wants Ross to remain the developer throughout the design of the project.

“The truth is, this is an opportunity to respect our history while paving the way for our future that elevates the neighborhood and provides something extraordinary for our residents,” he said. “The details will be important, of course, but we will all have the chance to vote on the measure in November because it will be on the ballot for your consideration. What we do next matters, and this project allows us to create our own story.

This story was originally published May 23, 2022 11:19 a.m.

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Martin Vassolo covers Miami Beach politics and government for the Miami Herald. He started working for the Herald in January 2018 after attending the University of Florida, where he served as editor of The Independent Florida Alligator. Previously, he was a general duty reporter at the Herald’s subway counter and a political reporting intern.

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