Category Archives: History

To add parking and renovate, The Standard wants a zoning change

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

The Standard on Belle Isle is valet only — today.

The Standard Spa and hotel is moving forward with its effort to add on-site parking and renovate one of the wings of its property, but this time with a twist — it’s asking the city of Miami Beach to create a hotel overlay district for its property.

monterey brochureThat’s because the Miami Beach zoning code for Belle Isle doesn’t allow a hotel use; the Standard is grandfathered in because it was built (originally as the Monterrey Motel and later the DiLido Spa) before the current code was enacted.

The Standard will meet with Belle Isle residents on Sept. 13 at 6 p.m. at the hotel, 40 Island Ave.

It plans to go before the Miami Beach Planning Board on Sept. 27.

The Standard’s latest proposal is believed to involve knocking down the existing single-story east wing of rooms. It would be replaced with a two-story wing — with parking on the first floor. In preliminary discussions, no additional rooms were to be added to the property.

As proposed, the overlay district would only apply to the Standard property, not other sites on Belle Isle.




17th Street Residence Inn opens next week

The new Residence Inn at 1231 17th Street.

The new Residence Inn at 1231 17th Street.

The Residence Inn by Marriott that Miami Beach commissioners allowed to be wedged on to a sliver of city land at the corner of West Avenue and 17th Street is supposed to open next week.

IMG_5619Neighborhood activists fought the 116-room extended stay hotel, built by developer Ronny Finvarb on city Housing Authority property that was sold to allow construction. They argued the lot was too small and the hotel would add traffic to an already congested intersection.

But they lost the argument, and the project was approved in spring 2013.

Proposed Residence Inn site north of 17th Street

The hotel triangle.

Three years later, it’s about to open, and the pie-shaped property north of 17th Street and south of the Collins Canal/Dade Boulevard from West Avenue to Alton Road is becoming a triangle of hotel activity.

The old Boston Market property, also owned by Finvarb, is being planned for a five-story, 96-room boutique hotel with a 100-plus seat restaurant.

Next to the Residence Inn on 17th (to the east), the old Mayflower building (think, Vespa store) is seeking historic designation before a full-scale renovation that would turn the apartment building into a 72-room hotel. The historic designation would allow the renovation without providing any additional parking; the property, which already has stores and restaurants at street-level, has less than a dozen parking spaces.

And west of the Residence Inn, the city and the Florida Department of Transportation plan to build a bridge that will extend West Avenue across the Collins Canal into Sunset Harbour.

That project is in the bidding/procurement phase, which should be completed very soon. If all goes as expected, the city could be voting to green-light construction next month. According to project plans, the actual work would take 270 days — nine months.

resinnMeanwhile, the Residence Inn will be the closest hotel to Belle Isle, Sunset Harbour and upper West Avenue. As a place to put up relatives who otherwise might overstay at your apartment, consider this: Rates next week start at $224 a night (for a studio apartment with a kitchen), according to Marriott’s website.  It’s pet-friendly, and breakfast is free.



Those Miami Beach centennial Coke bottles? Yeah, they’re at Publix in Sunset Harbour

IMG_4255We don’t know if you just have to have these, but if you do — on sale now.

IMG_4256It’s just part of the huge Beach 100 celebration.

Belle Plaza introduces lecture series with Jan. 14 talk on “American Shindler”

The folks at the Belle Plaza condominium, 20 Island Ave. are introducing a lecture series with a talk on Wednesday, Jan. 14, about Varian Fry, an American journalist credited with helping to free more than 2,000 Jews from the Nazis in World War II.

The talk starts at 7 p.m. in the card room. It will be led by Belle Plaza residents Diana Pollin and Alain Guyot , who have studied Fry’s life extensively.

Fry was a foreign corresponent for The Living Age, an American journal, and visited Berlin in in 1935 and witnessed and wrote about Nazi abuse against Jews for the New York Times.

He also helped raise money to support European anti-Nazi movements. When the Germans occupied France in 1940, Fry went to Marseille as an agent of the newly formed Emergency Rescue Committee in an effort to help people flee the Nazis.

Pollin and Guyot received The Marseille Provence Cultural Committee prize in 2013 for their work. Their project involved giving a virtual life to the demolished Villa Air Bel where Fry resided and hid the famous artists and writers during his time in Marseille. They are authors of the French language book “La Villa Air-Bel 1940 un phalanstere d’artistes.” Their most recent book, in English, is “Thirty Two Acres of Paradise, Varian Fry at Air-Bel, Marseille.”


Flash from the past on Dade Boulevard

IMG_3766We photographed this throwback Friday truck at 6:45 a.m. at the corner of Meridian and Dade Boulevard.

Tell the truth. Don’t you miss Burdines?

Murder, dead body dumping and Belle Isle

So, file this post under “know your neighbors,” and “interesting people who live on Belle Isle.”

Twenty years ago, a woman was murdered, allegedly by her husband, and her body was dumped in Biscayne Bay.

Yesterday in Miami-Dade criminal court, 9 Island Avenue resident Alan M. Gold revealed how he helped dump the body with the accused murderer, Cliff Friend.

He said they put her body, stuffed into a bag, on a boat at the marina docked behind Gold’s Belle Isle condo and motored out to sea.

We don’t want to spoil the rest of Miami Herald reporter David Ovalle’s amazing story. There more to it, for sure.

We live in an interesting place.

Beautiful Belle Isle from the air

Belle Isle, Friday morning, June 20.

Belle Isle, Friday morning, June 20.

Thanks to Belle Isle Residents Association vice chair Charles Urstadt for this great snapshot out our island from a Friday morning flight out of Miami International Airport.