Category Archives: People

Belle Isle personalities and celebrity sightings

Two new restaurants coming to Sunset Harbour

La Moderna is opening soon

La Moderna is opening soon

NaiYaRa will be an Asian street food concept restaurant.

NaiYaRa will be an Asian street food concept restaurant.

Belle Isle neighbor David Leeds wanted an update on the two largest remaining spaces in the Sunset Harbour Shoppes, which will be filled in the next couple of months with restaurants.

The first is La Moderna, and Wendy Chernin of the Scott Robins Companies tells us it’s expected to open by the end of June along the breezeway facing east behind Panther Coffee. It’s a sibling of Fratelli la Bufala at 437 Washington Ave.

The  second space is behind Ice Box, and Chernin says it will be called NaiYaRa, an Asian street food concept from chef Piyarat Arreeratn, aka Chef Bee, of Oishi Thai in North Miami, and formerly of Khong River House in Miami Beach.

That space is supposed to open at the end of the summer. As always, this being Miami Beach, timetables can slip.

Tough choices ahead for the Venetian bridges

Now that the Biscayne Island to mainland Miami span of Venetian Way is closed until 2016, it’s not too early to face up to the work ahead on the other Venetian bridges.

The Miami Herald’s Andres Viglucci does just that in a piece this morning, which examines the condition of the other bridges and the choices FDOT, Miami-Dade County and Venetian Isle residents face.

Here is the key paragraph imn the story — and the biggest issues ahead:

…Preservationists and Venetian Islands residents who have weighed in on the question overwhelmingly agree on one thing: Whether they are refurbished or rebuilt, the bridges should remain much as they are now: intimate and charming, low in scale and slow in speed, a popular draw for pedestrians, joggers and cyclists, tourists and locals alike, and affording unmatched, close-to-the-water vistas of Biscayne Bay.

The Venetian Causeway is closed

IMG_4647We walked the length of Venetian Way and back from Belle Isle between 6 and 7 a.m.

IMG_4645IMG_4648It’s never seemed quieter. For residents, detour aside, enjoy the tranquility. The bridges belong to biker, runners, walkers and residents now — as long as you don’t want to cross to Miami.

Belle Isle Residents Association president is running for Miami Beach City Commission


Here’s some news:

Belle Isle’s own Scott Diffenderfer, longtime president of the Belle Isle Residents Association, filed papers today to run for Miami Beach City Commission.

He is running for the Group 6 seat, which is being vacated by Commissioner Deede Weithorn, who has indicated she plans to run for the Florida House of Representatives.

Diffenderfer is the second Belle Isle resident to file for the seat. Mark Samuelian, a management consultant, filed his candidacy papers last month. Jeff Cynamon, a real estate attorney specializing in eminent domain casses, has also filed for that seat.

Samuelian, the Community Affairs director of the Alton Road Business Association, lives in the Grand Venetian. He is also on the board of Miami Beach United. (An earlier version of this post omitted this information).

Diffenderfer moved to Miami Beach in 1992 after Hurricane Andrew. He is a Realtor, and lives in the Belle Plaza condo. In addition to his involvement with BIRA, he’s served on the Miami Beach Transportation, Parking and Bicycle-Pedestrian Facilities Committee.

Belle Isle donates $1K to Watson Island development fight

The Belle Isle Residents Association has given $1,000 from its legal fund to the organization suing to block a controversial megayacht marina and resort on public land on Watson Island.

The donation was announced at Wednesday’s annual meeting by BIRA President Scott Diffenderfer after a presentation from Roger Craver, one of the leaders of Coalition Against Causeway Chaos.

“We’ve been collecting dues over the last few years to protect our interests,” Diffenderfer said. “The Belle Isle Residents Association believes this is so important we have a $1,000 check for you.”

Craver told the more than 100 residents at the meeting that the proposed development threatens to overwhelm traffic on the already overburdened MacArthur Causeway, impacting the Venetian Causeway as well.

Craver and Stephen Herbits and Sharon Kirby Wynne, who filed the lawsuit, live on the Venetian Causeway. They contend the city renegotiated the 13-year-old deal with developer Flagstone Properties — which has yet to build anything — on terms that violate the city charter and some key conditions in the ballot language voters approved in 2001.

The developer, Flagstone Properties, plans to build a marina, a hotel, shops, restaurants and public spaces, in phases.

“The solution to this problem is active citizens raising holy hell,” said Craver, who referred to the project as the “Watson Island Strangler.”

“We are faced with amazing and terrific traffic gridlock,” Craver said, warning that property values will go down “when people can’t get out of their homes.”


Belle Isle Park becomes a nesting place

Friday in Belle Isle Park (photo by Herb Frank)

Friday in Belle Isle Park (photo by Herb Frank)

You must have noticed how our little neighborhood park on Belle Isle has become gathering spot — for stroller-pushing moms and nannys, dog walkers and the occasional tropical bird.



Traffic double-play: Marathon Sunday morning, Alton Road flyover closure starting Sunday night

Belle Isle Blog loves the Miami Marathon, and our team will be out cheering the runners and snapping photos before dawn to share with all of you.

But we also want to remind Belle Isle and Venetian residents that with the race comes a Sunday morning traffic shutdown that begins about 6 a.m. and lasts as late as 10 a.m. So if you are making plans for brunch — or you need to get off the Beach early — either plan to walk or work around the timeline.

Our best advice, as always, is plan to cheer the runners!

Adding to our traffic trauma this weekend: The flyover bridge from eastbound MacArthur Causeway to northbound Alton Road will be closed starting on Sunday night through through Thursday while the contractor performs a paving operation and conducts bridge work.

Most of us don’t travel this way, but if you do — or your visiting plan to come this way — warn them to avoid the problem.