How the next chapter unfolds for the (controversially) demolition-bound Deauville Beach Resort, an iconic 1957 hotel in the North Beach neighborhood of Miami Beach, will be left up to voters when they head to the polls this November. Yesterday, July 20, the Miami Beach City Commission voted to advance a Frank Gehry–designed redevelopment plan for the oceanfront site led by Related Companies chairman Stephen Ross. The New York–based developer behind Hudson Yards has deep ties to South Florida as he grew up in Miami Beach and is owner of the Miami Dolphins. Toronto-born Gehry also has a personal connection to the area.
Miami Beach voters will decide whether to permit upzoning along a four-block stretch of Collins Avenue (between 65th and 69th streets) that includes the Deauville site. If the referendum is approved by vote-casting residents, three resolutions relating to the development plan will head back to the commission for a second reading in December as The Real Deal reported. The proposal was approved 5–1 by the Miami Beach Planning Board last month.
The plan proposed by Related Companies—design renderings are forthcoming—would replace the Deauville, a storied MiMo landmark designed by Morris Lapidus protégé Melvin Grossman, with a pair of Gehry-designed towers. The taller of the two towers is slated to include 150 luxury residences while the other will house an ultra-high-end, Equinox-branded hotel with 175 rooms. A large swath of green space will separate the two towers. Per a press release announcing the commission’s approval, the Deauville overhaul “revitalizes North Beach and pays homage to the Deauville’s place in Miami Beach’s history.”
Located on a relatively sleepy stretch of Collins Avenue, the Deauville was shuttered in July 2017 after the building suffered damage during an electrical fire that prompted the evacuation of all guests; just months later, the property took an additional battering from Hurricane Irma.
A protracted legal tussle soon ensued when the City of the Miami Beach sued the hotel’s owner, an entity owned by the Meruelo family, for failing to maintain the property following the fire-prompted closure. (The Meruelo Group, which acquired the Deauville in 2004, has been accused of intentionally allowing the historic hotel to fall into a state of neglect beyond repair.) As the condition of the abandoned building worsened, Miami-area preservationists (including the Miami Design Preservation League) and North Beach residents sprung into action to save the fabled property from further disrepair and potential demolition. During its glitzy mid-century heyday, the Deauville was the preferred Miami Beach haunt of a slew of notable names including Frank Sinatra, John F. Kennedy Jr., Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr. Most famously, the hotel hosted The Beatles in 1964 when the Fab Four played in its legendary Napoleon Ballroom during their first stateside visit.
In March of this year, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Michael Hanzman, reportedly swayed by the tragic June 2021 collapse of Champlain Towers South in neighboring Surfside, ordered that the rapidly deteriorating hotel be demolished despite the ongoing, community-led effort to spare the hotel and restore it. Work dismantling sections of the hotel commenced shortly after Hanzman’s order; a full demolition is slated for this fall, per The Real Deal.
In May, Related Companies acquired the nearly 4-acre property from the Meruelo Group for an undisclosed price and announced plans to redevelop the site following the razing of the Deauville.
“Until it fell into terrible disrepair, the Deauville was an iconic part of our history. Tragically it is now an eyesore that only drags down this area of our City,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber in a statement. “Our vote today sets a path that honors its former glory and delivers a project that will lift up and revitalize North Beach.”
As presented to the commission during yesterday’s meeting, the redevelopment plan comes equipped with a considerable community benefits package that includes funds for a community facility at the site, initial funding for the establishment of a housing relief fund, dedicated funding for arts education in the area, a “historic” agreement with the local hotel workers union UNITE HERE Local 355, and public beach access. The project would also generate an estimated $6 million annually to the North Beach Community Redevelopment Association while producing approximately $3 million in annual resort tax for the City of Miami Beach.
“As someone who grew up in North Beach, this project holds a special place in my heart,” said Ross. “I am thrilled that members of the Commission and the Mayor have seen how incredible a new and improved Deauville would be for North Beach, and have voted to approve it on first reading. As this process moves forward, I am hopeful that voters will see the transformational nature of this project and all it will add to the North Beach way of life, both today and for future generations.”
“If approved, redesigning the Deauville would be an unprecedented opportunity to honor the history of the site while building a new future for the community,” added Frank Gehry.
Just last month Related Companies revealed the design of another major South Florida project that’s currently in the works: One Brickell Centre, a supertall office tower in Miami’s financial district developed in partnership with Swire Partners, Inc. and designed by hometown firm Arquitectonica. When completed, that project will be the tallest non-residential skyscraper in Florida.
As for the redevelopment of the Deauville property in North Beach, AN will circle back as the approvals process moves forward and further design details are revealed.