Tag Archives: Belle Isle

Getting ready for Miami Marathon Sunday

Scenes from 2013 Miami Marathon

Scenes from 2013 Miami Marathon

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.

IMG_4636We can expect runners crossing the island and the rest of the Venetian Causeway in a steady stream at least until 9:30 a.m. — 27,000 in all.

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…..


Monday morning briefing for Belle Isle and the Venetian Causeway — the week ahead

Monday morning sunrise over Belle Isle.

Monday morning sunrise over Belle Isle.

Happy Monday folks! Here’s some of what’s coming up this week and the next few:

sewerwork– The Venetian Isle construction project that started Jan. 6 on San Marino expands today to DiLido Island. The new work involves digging a trench in the middle of West and East DiLido drives and installing pipes, the city says. Work on San Marino continues.

– On Wednesday, there will be another organic farmers market in the breezeway at the new Sunset Harbour Shops, featuring goodies from Paradise Farms. It runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

– On Feb. 6, Miami Beach police will be holding a police captain’s walk with homeowners. It starts at 5 p.m. at the corner of East Dilido Drive and North Venetian Way. The walk is a chance to discuss security concerns in the neighborhood.

– On Feb. 25, the Belle Isle Residents Association holds its annual meeting in the meeting room at 20 Island Ave. There will be a reception before the meeting. We’ll have more details as the agenda unfolds.

Another Belle Isle post card memory: The Lido Spa

Touting the Lido as "Miami Beach's only spa."

Touting the Lido as “Miami Beach’s only spa.”

As we wait for updates on the next step for The Standard’s proposed renovation, our crack research team cranked up the Wayback Machine for a look at the Lido Spa in its second coming.

A new way to vacation...

A new way to vacation…

Remember, the Belle Isle motel/spa/hotel launched in 1953 as the Monterrey Hotel, designed by noted Miami Modern architect Norman Giller. Second Gen was the Lido Spa, in 1960, when the new owner added the three-story lobby and spa building with the classic sign and gold grille panels.

Out latest postcard find dates back to the early 1960s. The only high-rises visible on Belle Isle in the postcard are Belle Tower, the island’s first high-rise (1958) at 16 Island Ave., and behind it, Belle Plaza, at 20 Island Ave., Belle Plaza was completed in 1962.

Time machine: a Belle Isle mansion at a bargain price

The Adams estate made way for Belle Towers and Belle Plaza.

The Adams estate made way for Belle Towers, Belle Plaza and Costa Brava.

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!

The Adams estate on the southeast end of Belle Isle.

The Adams estate on the southeast end of Belle Isle.

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).

This photo shows the Joseph Adams and JC Penney estates

This photo shows the Adams and Penney estates

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.


Architects behind The Standard Hotel and Lido Spa were stellar, but perhaps not who you think

A 1959 postcard from the Monterey Motel on Belle Isle.

A 1959 postcard from the Monterey Motel on Belle Isle.

As The Standard (formerly Lido Spa) unveils plans for its third major renovation, it’s a good opportunity to review the architectural lineage of a property that includes work by luminaries in South Florida design history.

Most folks who consider themselves Miami Beach old timers associate The Standard with the Lido Spa — for years a destination for a certain generation, more blue hair than purple streaks, less hip than hip replacement.

Ah, uncongested Belle Isle.

Ah, uncongested Belle Isle.

But the Lido was the second incarnation of  hotel/motel at 40 Island Ave.

It started in 1953, and was known as the Monterrey Motel. Architect Norman Giller originally designed the Monterrey with a glass gable facade. It had two wings of rooms, two floors on the west and one floor on the east.

Giller’s hotel designs are considered groundbreaking works of Miami Modern architecture. His other work includes the Ocean Palm and Thunderbird Motels in Sunny Isles Beach, and the Carillon Hotel and the North Shore Bandshell in North Beach.

monterey brochureThe original Monterrey became the Lido Spa in 1960. The new owner added the three-story lobby and spa building with the classic sign and gold grille panels. Here’s where the architectural history becomes more murky.

Many publications have attributed that work  to architectural legend Morris Lapidus.

Among them: Travel and Leisure magazine in a much repeated piece from 2005, and the city of Miami Beach in it’s own MiMoTutorial

But the authoritative book MIMO: Miami Modern Revealed, by Eric Nash and Randall Robinson, credits  A. Herbert Mathes  for the entry building design. So does Miami Architecture, an American Institute of Architects guide to South Florida’s design treasures.

The Lapidus anthology Morris Lapidus: The Architecture of Joy, which lists all of Lapidus buildings, does not mention the Lido at all.

Tom Mooney, the city of Miami Beach preservation officer and planner, says the city of Miami Beach building card for 40 Island Ave. does not name Lapidus, though it does name Norman Giller for the original design. It’s worth a look, to see that the original Monterrey building cost was estimated at $200,000. You can see renovation details from air conditioning upgrades to pool construction.

3 Island Ave.

3 Island Ave.

5 Island Ave.

5 Island Ave.

(It’s worth mentioning that Lapidus did make his mark on Belle Isle. Two other Belle Isle buildings are Lapidus designs: Terrace Tower (1962) at 3 Island Ave. and Island Terrace (1967), 5 Island Ave.)

The 2005 renovation of The Standard was done by Alison Spear, one of the founders of the groundbreaking Miami architectural firm Arquitectonica.

In 1962, Belle Isle with Monterey/Lido in the foreground.

In 1962, Belle Isle with Monterrey/Lido in the foreground, slightly left.

Scenes from the ING Miami Marathon: the runners cross Belle Isle

Runners in high spirits crossing Belle Isle

Runners in high spirits crossing Belle Isle

They wore running gear and wedding gowns, kooky headgear and Kinesio tape, their own names (Go, Charles!) and the names of honored loved ones on their shirts and hats and shorts.

And on their faces, the 25,000 or so runners, walkers and wheelchair athletes who crossed Belle Isle in Sunday’s ING Miami Marathon and Half Marathon wore the look of pride you get from working hard and achieving  a personal goal.

Wheelchair athletes started before runners.

Wheelchair athletes started before runners.

The first wheelchair competitor crossed the island at 6:34 a.m. (after a 6:05 a.m. start). Our first runner crossed at 6:58 a.m., following a Nissan Leaf pace car. And the rest of the field streamed over bridge from Sunset Harbour headed west across Rivo Alto, DiLido, San Marino, San Marco and Biscayne islands on their way to the mainland.

First runner to Belle Isle

First runner to Belle Isle

They were cheered on by a smattering of family, friends and Belle Isle residents,  along with the water-and-Gatorade crew from Baptist Health, If you were running in Sunday’s ING Miami Marathon and Half Marathon, you might have wished it was a little cooler. But the overcast skies kept the heat down as the sun rose in the early morning.

IMG_4541The volunteer crew from Baptist Health (station G) filled paper cups in the darkness before 6 a.m. By 7:30, they were awash in Gatorade and up to their ankles in crushed cups.

But the story of the day was the runners — fast, slow, elite athlete and weekend warrior. Here’s a look at the rest of the runners (click on any photo to enlarge and get a better view. Maybe you are in there!)

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Dennis "Coatman" Marsala

Dennis “Coatman” Marsala

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Standard Hotel expansion gets mixed reception from Belle Isle residents

The Standard wants to demolish the east wing (on right), to make way for parking, 2-story wing.

Plans involve removing the east wing (on right), to make way for parking, 2-story wing.

Belle Isle residents gave a The Standard hotel an uneven reception to its proposal to tear down its east wing to make room for a 160-space mechanical parking structure and a new, two- story building.

Attorney Monica Entin and architect Arthur Marcus at The Standard.

Attorney Monica Entin and architect Arthur Marcus at The Standard.

In a presentation Wednesday night at the hotel, 40 Island Ave., the lawyer for The Standard’s development team,  Monica Entin, said the expansion “will benefit the neighborhood.”

She said it would  reduce traffic, won’t add any hotel rooms, and will enclose the kitchen for the hotel and therefore reduce noise.

“We aren’t seeking any additional uses or hours of operations,” she told residents.

But residents who attended the meeting from the north side of Belle Isle — where The Standard is located — expressed concern that the increased scale from the expansion would have a negative impact on their quality of life.

The Standard team, which included architect Arnold Marcus and specialists in traffic, acoustics and landscaping, outlined a construction plan that begins with demolishing the one-story wing of rooms at the hotel.

A robotic parking structure would rise just behind the three story lobby/spa building that would be roughly 45 feet high — about the same height at the building in front of it.

Behind the parking structure, The Standard would build a two-story wing of rooms.

If the project moves forward,  it would take about eight months to a year to get city approval for the changes design, and the demolition and construction process would take more than a year, after that developer representatives said.

But nothing happens unless the Miami Beach City Commission okays the demolition of the original wing. If that is approved, the city planning and design boards would be next in the process to evaluate the garage design and the new two-story wing.

The Standard team emphasized how aspects of their plan could lessen impact on Belle Isle residents.

– While the 160-space garage would mean cars could park on site, they said it would actually decrease Belle Isle traffic. Because the hotel and spa has no on-site parking, each visitor to the hotel, spa or restaurant who arrives in their own car generates multiple trips at the hotel, traffic engineer Joaquin Vargas said — one into the hotel, then two more as a valet and trailing shuttle bus drive to a rented parking lot in Sunset Harbour, and then a trip back.

The process of parking that single car takes time, and as a result, cars often back up at the porte-cochère at The Standard front door — and so taxis sometimes stop on Island Avenue to drop off hotel guests.

“If we have a garage on site, it will alleviate” much of the traffic and congestion, Vargas said.

– The parking garage walls would be clad with landscaping — “a living wall of plants,” the landscape architect said — to lessen its visual impact.

– The new two-story wing of rooms will have interior hallways, and all the balconies would face the hotel’s center courtyard, rather than the bungalows on Farrey Lane. That will decrease noise affecting residents east of the hotel, they said.

– The Standard will install acoustical panels on the east side of the complex, and well as panels around the air conditioning chillers, said Don Washburn, a sound expert hired by The Standard.

But residents — especially those on Farrey Lane — were not pleased. They said the new garage will tower over their small homes, and change their quality of life.

Farrey Lane resident Frank Scottoline said he now looks out from his kitchen to trees and blue skies. If the garage is built, he said, all he will see is a big wall, blocking any view and light.

The shift of auto activity from the front of the hotel on Island Avenue to the east side of the property also will impact the Farrey Lane residents, they said. At one point, the homeowners were asked if they would prefer if the traffic would stay as it is.

“Yes,” they answered emphatically.