Tag Archives: Belle Isle

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.

Standard Hotel hosts Belle Isle residents tonight for expansion overview

The management of The Standard, the boutique hotel on Belle Isle in the old Lido Spa, meets with residents tonight at 6 p.m. to present plans for renovating part of the hotel and adding a mechanized parking structure.

Belle Isle residents learned of the proposal last week  during the Belle Isle Residents Association meeting.

According to BIRA President Scott Diffenderfer, The Standard plans to raze the one-story east wing of the hotel. In its place it would build a robotic parking garage no taller than the three-story spa and lobby building that provides entry to the hotel. Behind that, plans include a new, two-story wing with interior hallways.

We’ll share more details — and hopefully some renderings — after tonight’s meeting at the hotel, 40 Island Ave.

Get ready for the ING Marathon on Sunday

The 2013 ING Marathon path across our islands.

The 2013 ING Marathon path across our islands.

The 2013 ING Marathon and half-marathon — the huge community event that brings 25,000 runners across the Belle Isle and the Venetian Causeway — returns in one week, on Sunday, Jan. 27.

Ask the runners, and most will tell you that the Venetian Causeway crossing is the most beautiful stretch of the race.

The organizers delivered marathon hangers to Venetian Isle homeowners earlier this week, to make sure we’re prepared for the Sunday morning traffic disruptions and know when to get out and cheer. Later this week, we’ll see portable toilets and other necessities moved into place.

The marathon brings money and visitors to the community, and the group that runs it works hard to ensure it isn’t too disruptive on Sunday morning. Event manager Whitney Murphy promises all you’ll hear are the footfalls of runners, and our islands will be cleaned up by afternoon.

Here’s some Belle Isle Blog advice on how to make the best of the event:

IMG_3433– Get out and cheer the runners. The race starts at 6:05 a.m. for wheelchair competitors and 6:15 a.m. for runners. We’ll see the leaders pass Belle Isle (mile 8)  around 6:30 a.m., and we’ll see people who have trained for months crossing until 9:30 or 10 a.m. They range from elite athletes to average folks who committed to goal and are on their way to achieving it. Make signs to motivate the runners. Your enthusiasm will help lift them to success.

Lady Liberty?

Lady Liberty?

– Plan your morning around the race. From about 5 a.m. to 10 a.m., you’ll only be able to go east on Venetian Way by car, and quite slowly. If you want to go to breakfast, you might want to walk. That way, you can cheer the runners as you go along. IF you HAVE to go to the mainland in the morning, plan to ease your way east on Venetian Way, then south on West Avenue, and east on the MacArthur Causeway, where westbound lanes will be open.

There are several key water stations on the Venetian Causeway leg of the route, one on Belle Isle (mile 8),  San Marco Island (mile 9) and Biscayne Island (Mile 10)

Enjoy the race . Belle Isle Blog will be taking photos of the runners from our island, and promises to post them on the site as early as possible Sunday morning. Here’s a look at last year’s coverage.

The Standard plans renovation, construction of robotic parking structure

The Standard on Belle Isle is valet only -- today.

The Standard on Belle Isle is valet only — today.

The Standard, the hip hotel and spa in the renovated Lido Spa on Belle Isle, is planning an ambitious reconstruction that includes rebuilding a wing of rooms and constructing a mechanical on-site parking structure.

“The Standard is looking at an expansion,” Belle Isle Residents Association president Scott Diffenderfer told island residents at a community meeting Wednesday night.

The Standard has scheduled a meeting to give Belle Isle residents an overview of the plans at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23 at the hotel, 40 Island Ave.

Diffenderfer said The Standard has said the project will add only a few rooms to the property. It involves knocking down the one-story eastern wing of rooms. The garage would go behind the main, three-story lobby and spa structure. A new, two-story east wing of rooms would be built — with larger rooms and interior hallways.

Cars entering the robartic garage on Collins Avenue.

Cars entering the robotic garage on Collins Avenue.

The parking structure would work like an automated garage that opened earlier this year at 1826 Collins Ave, billed as he first of its kind in South Florida.  Built by Stellar Construction, the Collins garage looks like a retail space, with a wide entrance where cars drive in. Once inside, robotic platforms slide underneath, lift them up and put them in a parking spot.

The old Lido Spa was renovated and reopened by hotelier Andre Balazs in 2005. Parking always posed a problem, with a valet-only policy and a rented lot in Sunset Harbour.

In renovating the Lido — a 1950s vintage hotel that was renovated in 1960 with the MIMO Three-story lobby and spa building in the early 1960s– Balazs brought quiet hip to sleepy Belle Isle. Neighbors always worried the party might get too wild.

Restrictions on the property due to its residential surroundings — they can’t serve liquor after midnight and music can’t be so loud that it will disturb neighboring properties — were in place before the 2005 renovation.

Diffenderfer said the Belle Isle association has not taken a position on the proposal — and don’t until they see it in its final form and get neighborhood feedback. “We need to see what shape it will ultimately take.”

Another Halloween on South Beach



You really do have to love our neighborhood.

Boil water advisory ends Wednesday afternoon

The precautionary boil water advisory for Belle Isle, the result of a water main break on Saturday as Tropical Storm Isaac approached, officially lifts at 2 p.m. today.

Meanwhile, the water line break, one of four that occurred Saturday (two 20-inch mains in Sunset Harbour, one on Rivo Alto and one on Belle Isle) apparently left some debris in water lines that on Tuesday forced Nine Island Avenue to partially curtail some of its water service and building-wide air conditioning for several hours.

In a Tuesday afternoon note to condo owners, Nine Island management said “debris from the main water line has caused a blockage in both our domestic water pump system and the pump system that controls our air conditioning for the hallways.

“We will need to shut down the air conditioning in the hallways for two hours this afternoon so we may remove the debris from the pump system. We may also experience low pressure in the apartments due to our pumps being worked on for the domestic water system.”

The lifting of boil water advisory ends another inconvenience for Belle Isle residents. But the experience of the weekend is a cautionary tale of Miami Beach’s aging infrastructure.

The water main breaks weren’t caused by an oncoming storm. They were the result of an aging system. In the last year, Miami Beach has had a series of water main failures, including several in North and Middle Beach.

Belle Isle residents should boil water until Wednesday afternoon

The broken Belle Isle water line that left island residents without water much of Sunday is fixed and the Venetian Way near the  Island Terrace condo is patched. So how long should we be boiling water?

The city of Miami Beach is advising that you boil water as a precaution until Wednesday afternoon on Belle Isle.

The same goes for the buildings that lost water during the first water main break in Sunset Harbour. Those addresses are 1701 Purdy Ave., 1771  West Ave., 1333 Dade Blvd, 1800 Alton Rd, 1828 Alton Rd., 1840 Alton Rd. and 1850 Alton Rd.

Water service restored on Belle Isle; residents advised to boil water as precaution

City workers repairing water main break on Belle Isle early Sunday.

Miami Beach Public Works employees battled wind and rain from Tropical Storm Isaac to patch the last of four broken water mains and restored water service to Belle Isle at roughly 2:50 p.m.

The final fix was made in an 8-inch pipe under Venetian Way just east of the bridge to Rivo Alto Isle.

Miami Beach is advising Belle Isle resident to boil water as a precaution until the water can be tested to determine it is safe. That is likely to take two days.

The same is true for residents of Sunset Harbour and Alton Road and West Avenue who received a similar advisory on Saturday.

The fix in the Belle Isle main marked the end of a 36-hour period when four city water lines failed – two 20-inch mains in Sunset Harbour, a smaller line on Rivo Alto and the Belle Isle water line.