Miami Beach’s fabled Deauville Beach Resort imploded as future redevelopment plans remain unsettled

End of an Era

Miami Beach’s fabled Deauville Beach Resort imploded as future redevelopment plans remain unsettled

The Deauville Beach Resort, a midcentury Miami Beach landmark, pictured a year after its 2017 closure. (Phillip Pessar/Flickr/CC BY 2.0)

The 17-story tower anchoring the Deauville Beach Resort, a once-glitzy landmark Miami Beach getaway that famously hosted the Beatles, John F. Kennedy, Jr., and a slew of other boldface names during its midcentury heyday, was demolished early yesterday morning via controlled implosion.

The razing of the fabled MiMo hotel, which first opened in 1957 with a design by Morris Lapidus protégé Melvin Grossman, comes several years after it was permanently closed and left forsaken. City officials had deemed the building at 6701 Collins Avenue as an unsafe eyesore as it continued to deteriorate.

As for what’s next for the prime 4-acre oceanfront site, that remains hazy. As initially proposed in a controversial redevelopment plan helmed by Related Companies, the transformed North Beach property would have given way to a pair of Frank Gehry–designed towers, one featuring 150 luxury residences and the other a high-end, Equinox-branded hotel. Those plans, however, are in limbo after voters struck down an Election Day ballot measure, Referendum 1, that would have allowed the new towers to exceed the area’s existing 200-foot height limit by 150 feet. Roughly 53 percent of Miami Beach voters said no to the referendum, which applied to a four-block stretch of Collins Avenue, including the Deauville site.

Related Companies, whose owner Stephen Ross has deep ties to Miami Beach and is owner of the Miami Dolphins, announced its pending acquisition of the site from an entity owned by the Meruelo Group in May. (Related had announced its “purchase” of the site, estimated at $500 million dollars, although said purchase was contingent on voters approving the referendum.) Per recent reporting from the Real Deal, Ross invested nearly $2 million on a political action committee entitled Yes for a Strong and Safe Future that was specifically formed to promote the ultimately voter-rejected upzoning measure.

Following years of steady decline, the Deauville was shuttered in 2017 after sustaining damage from both Hurricane Irma and during a minor electrical fire. A protracted legal skirmish soon ensued as the hotel continued to sit empty, with the City of Miami Beach suing the Meruelo Group for failing to maintain the fast-deteriorating property. 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.

“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 issued after the Miami Beach City Commission voted to advance Related’s redevelopment proposal in July.

As the condition of the hotel continued to worsen at a rapid clip, Miami-area preservationists including the Miami Design Preservation League and North Beach residents sprang into action to save the Deauville from further disrepair and potential demolition. An engineering report, however, concluded that saving the structure was not feasible. In March, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Michael Hanzman, reportedly swayed by the tragic June 2021 collapse of Champlain Towers South in neighboring Surfside, issued a formal demolition order for the Deauville. Work dismantling the hotel commenced shortly after the demolition order, leading up to this weekend’s implosion.

“This is just a back to the drawing board. I think it will be terrible if in 10 or 20 years this lot was still empty,” said Gelber, who was a vocal proponent of Related’s now-nixed redevelopment proposal.

We’ll circle back if and when new (presumably less tall) redevelopment plans for the Deauville site emerge.