Category Archives: People

Belle Isle personalities and celebrity sightings

On Saturday, go for a South Beach bike ride — or avoid getting caught in one

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

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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Collins Canal bike path should be complete by late April, city says

Bike path and seawall work between Alton Road and Michigan.

Bike path and seawall work between Alton Road and Michigan.

Stalled work on the Collins Canal seawall and bike path has resumed, and the project should be complete in late April, Belle Isle residents were told this week.

Construction on the seawall and bike path was halted last fall after Miami-Dade prosecutors arrested former Miami Beach procurement director Gus Lopez on  63 charges including racketeering, bid-tampering and illegal compensation in connection with a dozen different city contracts. The bike path contract, with Harbour Construction, is one of the projects tied to that investigation.

The city has decided to move forward with the work, said Rick Saltrick, chief capital projects engineer for the city.

“We stopped work for a while because of procurement issues,” he told a gathering of the Belle Isle Residents Association on Wednesday night. ” We decided to go ahead and let him finish….We shouldn’t punish the rest of the city” with an unfinished project.

Harbour Construction had already been been paid more than $3.6 million on the $4 million project. The Miami Herald reported that police said company employees admitted to falsifying a letter of credit and receiving leaked information about other companies’ bids.

The project extends the existing bike path from where Dade Boulevard splits off of 17th Street at the Collins Canal bridge to Convention Center Drive.  In all, it’s 2,900 long, and will enable bikers, runners and parents pushing strollers to get from Belle Isle to the beach on a nice sidewalk all the way.

The improvements include raising the existing seawall to address times of high water. Completed, the path will feature a wider concrete path, landscaping and improved lighting using LED fixtures.

Parttime Belle Isle resident wins case at Supreme Court



Fane Lozman, former Marine, commodities trader and civic activist, won his case before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. He’s on the front page of The Miami Herald today.

In a 7-2 decision, the Supremes decided the city of Riviera Beach, where Lozman used to live, could not regulate Lozman’s former home as a maritime vessel.

The court concluded that Riviera Beach went too far when it used maritime law to seize and eventually destroy Lozman’s houseboat.

Congrats to our Belle Isle neighbor, who spends a lot of time at Nine Island Avenue.

You may remember that Lozman got into a dust-up last year with KW Property Management at Nine Island, when his Ducati motorcycle disappeared from the parking garage. When he brought up the theft at a condo board meeting, he said the building management tried to shut him up and called Miami Beach police.

As we blogged back then — Lozman isn’t a guy to be taken lightly.

Hotel construction, road work, flooding and Sun Pass on Belle Isle residents agenda

Can robotic parking machines change how people feel about parking garages?

Will a new pumping system, almost complete, keep Sunset Harbour dry the next time we have a full moon and high tide at the same time?

When will the city of Miami Beach finish work on the new Collins Canal seawall and adjacent bike path?

Should digital signage — also known as electronic billboards — be allowed as part of Miami Beach bus shelters?

All those issues and more are one the agenda for the Belle Isle Residents Association annual meeting, which happens Wednesday, Jan. 16, at the Belle Plaza meeting room, 20 Island Ave.

The gathering starts social at 6 p.m., and the meeting should begin at 7.

Representatives from the city of Miami Beach will be on hand to discuss a variety of projects, and hear from residents, says association president Scott Diffenderfer.

Here’s a look at the full agenda:

Discussion and updates on the following City, County and developer projects:
– Collins Canal Seawall and Dade Blvd. Bike Path
– Alton Road Construction and traffic detour plans which will affect West Avenue and Venetian Way
– Ongoing Sunset Harbour Flooding and Pump Station Enhancement project
– Venetian Islands construction on side streets
– Proposed expansion and addition of parking at Standard Hotel
– Proposed Hotel on 17th Street and West Avenue
– Introduction of Miami Beach United
– Update on selection of City Manager
- Update on Convention Center Expansion
– Discussion of request to install Electronic Billboards to bus shelters in Miami Beach
– Timeline and info on how to register your SunPass for use on the Venetian Causeway
– Open forum for residents to ask questions and provide comments

Pubbelly team to open steakhouse in old Joe Allen spot

Many of us still miss Joe Allen in Sunset Harbour, even though it’s been almost two years and two unsuccessful restaurants (Morgans on the Beach and Georgia’s Union) since the place closed its doors.

Now, the team that created Pubbelly, Pubbelly Sushi and Barceloneta is getting the white house at 1787 Purdy Ave. prepped for a January opening as PB Steak.

Lesley Abravanel has a preview at Among the menu items: an extensive raw bar, steak tartar sliders, steak entrees from $19 to $60, and a veal porterhouse.

The bar will feature mixologist Ashley Danella, formerly of Hakkasan at the Fontainebleau.

Opening target is the second week of January.



Venetian Homeowners to meet, talk Streetscape

The Venetian Islands Homeowners Association meets Thursday night and there is oh so much to talk about — from the upcoming Streetscape construction on Rivo Alto, San Marino and DiLido islands to causeway traffic and toll issues.

The meeting happens at 6:30 p.m. at 250 East San Marino Dr., on San Marino Island.

Among the items on the agenda:

– A report from the Miami Beach police department on island burglaries and efforts to blunt them

– The possibility of a hotel development on 17th Street and Alton Road

– A report on the Genting Project on the Miami Herald property

– Plans to switch Venetian Causeway toll collection to SunPass

And you have to believe the issue of house knockdowns and mega-mansions will arise as well.

Beyonce does Belle Isle — with Jay-Z

Beyonce and Jay-Z at The Standard.

Beyonce and Jay-Z at The Standard.

Art Basel-related madness goes on all around us, the Belle Isle’s own spa and hotel at The Standard is a focal point for collectors and celebs.

So who hit the island last night? None other than Beyonce and hubby Jay-Z, as you can see from this screen shot on Twitter.  The full tweet? Now that’s a BUN! RT @Refinery29: Dying over @Beyonce hair

Others there during the last few days: Photographer Bruce Weber, rapper and singer Azealia Banks, photographer Terry Richardson, actress Demi Moore, actress/model Stacy Keibler and rocker Lenny Kravitz.

Design Review Board to consider giant house on DiLido Island

Front view of proposed home at 206/212 W. DiLido Dr.

Front view of proposed home at 206/212 W. DiLido Dr.

Most of the attention at Tuesday’s Miami Beach Design Review Board meeting will be focused on the request from Real Housewife 0f Miami’s Lisa Hochstein and plastic surgeon hubby Leonard to knock down a 1925 Walter DeGarmo house on Star Island — replacing it with a mega-mansion.

But at the same meeting, the design board will consider another proposal — to knock down two homes (on two lots) on DiLido Island on the Venetian Causeway and replace them with one huge house.

appraiserThe address of the existing homes are 206 and 212 W. DiLido Dr. Each lot is 10,500 square feet, and according to the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser website, both homes were purchased by Ahmad Lee Khamsi — 212 W. DiLido in May 2011 (for $2.6 million) and 206 W. DiLido in June 2012 (for $2.28 million).

Khamsi is a telecom and cable executive who heads Supercable, which provides digital cable service in Venezuela and Colombia. He lived in the Boca Raton area for more than a decade.

Both existing homes were built in the 1950s, and are just under 3,600 square feet each.

The new home design is just under 12,000 square feet, plus a large roof deck. It was designed by architects Choeff+Levy. Miami Beach Design Review staff called it “very handsomely designed.”

Petitioners against it say it’s out of scale for the island.

But in an email to Venetian homeowners, Venetian Island Homeowners Association president Juergen Brendel wrote:

These larger new high end homes will sell for much more per sq ft and enhance the value of all the nearby houses and lots. Opposing such development would be scaring all the ones that are currently paying high $$$ for our members. We should not do this.

He has also hired one of the best architect firm in the world from South Africa and is paying millions in design fees. We should encourage this it will raise the caliber of the neighborhood!

In any case, the 2 houses being replaced are really ugly and in disrepair. They need to be changed!