- Vicomte A. to open first Miami-Dade store in South Beach March 11, 2014
- Miami Beach’s top cop says political winds shifted March 10, 2014
- Business group to represent Alton store owners in Miami Beach March 10, 2014
- Coast Guard corpsman from Miami Beach to be honored in Washington March 10, 2014
- Miami Beach close to selecting firm to manage tennis programs March 7, 2014
Belle Isle Archives
Category Archives: People
It was a warm and wonderful Sunday on Belle Isle, and some 25,000 runners crossed our island, pursuing personal milestones. Volunteers gave them water and Gatorade and we cheered them on….(Thanks to Belle Isle’s Steve Neifeld for the photos)
We’re in the countdown to Miami Marathon (and Half-Marathon) Sunday.
The big race happens Sunday morning, with a 6 a.m. start downtown near American Airlines Arena downtown. The route should bring the first races (wheelchair competitors) to Belle Isle around 6:45 a.m.
Plan ahead — for breakfast at home, or a walk to the story, or better yet, getting up early to go out and cheer the runners.
When runners pass us by, they will be about 8 miles into either a 13.1-mile or 26.2 mile journey. They’d love your support, and they have worked hard for this day.
If you have to leave the island, know you can only go east, and it will be a slow slog…..
It’s great to be popular, as long as you can stand the traffic.
Miami Beach is a frequent destination for presidential visitors (the real deal or candidates who want to be). President Obama is coming to town Wednesday for a fundraiser on the Sunset Islands.
His travel back and forth will take place between 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., and for portions of that time span, there will be delays on the Julia Tuttle Causeway, Alton Road and the general area around the Sunset islands.
If you are coming home across the Tuttle, you might want to consider the Venetian. Or coming home early.
Considered yourself warned.
The developers of a Marriott Residence Inn proposed to be built on a sliver of land between 17th Street and the Collins Canal will present plans to members of the Belle Isle Residents Association on Thursday, April 4.
The 116-room hotel is proposed by the Finvarb Group, developer and owner of at least seven Marriott properties across the country, included the Marriott Courtyard on Washington Avenue in South Beach.
The land where the hotel would be built, north of 17th Street between Alton Road and West Avenue, is owned by the Miami Beach Housing Authority. Finvarb has negotiated to buy it, assuming the hotel project is approved by the city.
On March 13, the Miami Beach City Commission relaxed parking requirements for small hotels in the city’s historic district, and added the 17th Street parking to the the more generous rules. That controversial decision was opposed by the Belle Isle Residents Association and the West Avenue Corridor Neighborhood Association.
At the meeting BIRA representatives complained that the city Parking and Transportation Committee was not asked to review the parking policy change, and the hotel project had not been presented to Belle Isle homeowners. Michael Larkin, the lawyer representing Finvarb, said there had been a meeting scheduled with Belle Isle but it was cancelled because of a death in the Finvarb family.
The project still must be approved by the Miami Beach Planning Board.
Ever plumb through the historical magazines and newspapers at the Sunday Lincoln Road market?
One of our neighbors from Belle Towers found a gem Sunday.
“I walked up to talk to the magazine lady at the flea market and this guy asked about this house. He lives in Belle Meade and thought this was a mistake! I said no its where I live. He was buying it. I said can I buy it? Lol. He said no. So I took a picture at least.”
You can click on the photo to read the description, but the highlights are: The main house had 11 bedrooms, eight baths, a 75×35 foot music room with a Aeolian pipe organ, and an eight car garage. Oh, and 650 feet of water frontage. All for $350,000. Such as deal!
Joseph Adams owned a big chunk of Belle Isle back in the day. His sprawling estate covered the property where developers built Belle Tower (16 Island Ave., in 1958, Belle Plaza (20 Island Ave., 1962, and Costa Brava (11 Island Ave., 1972).
Adams was a millionaire who came to Florida in 1924. He was an author and inventor who developed something known as the “oil-cracking process,” a way of making larger volumes of gasoline from crude oil by applying continuous heat and pressure. In 1919 and 1920, he obtained patents for the process and machinery that were sold to the Texas Oil Company (which became Texaco) and Standard Oil. He later had a $1 million tax battle with the IRS over income from the patents.
He was one of the founders of the University of Miami, and the boathouse on his Belle Isle estate was the first location of UM’s Rosentiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. He willed it to UM in his estate (he died in 1941 at age 74).
When President-elect Herbert Hoover stayed at the J.C. Penney estate (now 9 Island Avenue) for four weeks starting on Jan. 22, 1929, some 30 staffers and journalists stayed at the adjacent Adams estate, thanks to an agreement between Penney and Adams.
Hoover stayed on Belle Isle before his inauguration (back then, presidential inaugurations were in March), and went fishing on Adams yacht, the Amitie.
The house briefly served as the home of Miami Beach’s first Episcopal Church (All Souls, now on Pine Tree Drive), which was allowed to hold services in the massive music room after Adams death in 1941.
Belle Isle Blog is overdue in recognizing the newly elected Belle Isle Residents Association board, which plays a crucial role as our neighborhood advocate on key issues at Miami Beach City Hall and with Miami-Dade County and the Florida Department of Transportation.
They are active (in their day jobs) in areas from architecture to real estate, and many have key roles in other volunteer quality of life ventures — from Miami Beach committees to civic groups.
The association’s president, Scott Diffenderfer (Belle Plaza), is a local Realtor and a member of Miami Beach’s Transportation Committee.
Vice President Charlie Urstadt lives in Belle Towers, and last month was selected as chair of the city of Miami Beach Planning Board. Urstadt also serves as chair of the Miami Beach Design Preservation League, a director of Friends of Miami Marine Stadium and is managing director of Urstadt Real Estate, a consulting firm.
Jean Francois-Lejeune (Belle Plaza) is a professor of architecture (and director of graduate studies) at the University of Miami, author and a Miami Beach Planning Board member.
Nancy Liebman (9 Island Avenue) is a former Miami Beach City Commissioner, and along with long-time board member Herb Frank, one of the founders of the activist group Miami Beach United. Frank is active with Scenic Miami.
At the risk of leaving anyone out, here’s a complete list of board members as of the latest Belle Island Association election, from the association website:
- Scott Diffenderfer (20 Island Avenue) [President]
- Josh Fisher (9 Island Avenue)
- Herb Frank (10 Venetian Way) [Treasurer]
- Garry Korr (11 Island Avenue)
- Sandra Money (3 Island Avenue)
- Barbara Frank (10 Venetian Way)
- Nancy Liebman (9 Island Avenue)
- David Leeds (20 Island Avenue)
- Monica Tracy (5 Island Avenue) [Secretary)
Directors Elected 2012 (Terms expire January, 2014)
- Nancy Beckham (20 Island Avenue)
- Jean-Francois Lejeune with wife Astrid Rotemberg as Sub (20 Island Avenue)
- Elaine Solomon (1 Century Lane) [Elected January 2013]
- Charles Urstadt (16 Island Avenue) [Vice-President]
Secretary Monica Tracey (5 Island Ave.) is an active area real estate agent.
The West Avenue Corridor Neighborhood Association — a community group that’s been extremely active on issues from bicycle and pedestrian safety to zoning and flooding issues — holds its first annual meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19 at the Mirador 1200 condominium.
With leadership from co-chairs Christine Florez and Gayle Durham, the WAVNA community group has drawn serious attention from Miami Beach officials and developers who want to do business in the area. Florez, by the way, recently filed papers to run for the Miami Beach City Commission.
Key items on the West Avenue agenda this year:
–How the city and the Florida Department of Transportation handle the reconstruction of Alton Road and new pumping stations to reduce flooding;
– The proposal from Crescent Heights to replace South Shore Hospital with a large new rental/retail complex called 600 Alton Road. The proposal goes to the Miami Beach Planning Board on Feb. 26, and the Design Review Board on March 6.
– How Miami Beach deals with valet parking and neighborhood concerns associated with the renovation of Southgate Towers on the east side of West Avenue and 10th Street and plans to open a 200-seat restaurant with outdoor seating and valet parking on that property.
– The efforts of the Bikini Hostel, 1255 West Ave., to acquire a liquor license. The association launched a petition drive to try and block the granting of the liquor license.
The monthly Miami Beach Community Bike Ride happens Saturday morning between 9 and 11:30 a.m.
It’s a fun event for participants — and a wise thing to plan around for errand-running South Beach residents.
For Belle Isle and other Venetian Causeway dwellers, it’s important to know that the last leg of the ride takes riders down Alton Road from Middle Beach and then east at 20th Street to Dade Boulevard and the Convention Center area.
The ride starts at Fifth Street and Washington Avenue. Here’s the general route, for planning purposes:
- Fifth Street from Washington Avenue to Ocean Drive
- Ocean Drive from Fifth to 15 streets
- 15 Street from Ocean Drive to Collins Avenue
- Collins Avenue from 15 Street to 87 Street
- 87 Terrace between Collins Avenue and Harding Avenue
- Harding Avenue from 87 Terrace (to Indian Creek) to 63 Street
- 63 Street from Indian Creek to North Bay Road
- North Bay Road south from 63 Street to 45 Street/Alton Road
- Alton Road from 45 Street to 20 Street
- Dade Boulevard from 20 Street to Convention Center Drive
- Convention Center Drive
- 17 Street from Convention Center Drive to Washington Avenue
- Washington Avenue south from 17 Street back to Fifth Street