Tag Archives: Belle Plaza

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.


Back when Belle Plaza was cutting edge

Thanks to CBS 4′s David Bernard, here’s a page from a 1964 Architectural Digest that features the latest in technology in a new Miami Beach apartment building named Belle Plaza.

Belle Isle mystery sound solved — and silenced

We wrote a couple of months ago about an annoying high-pitched noise that Belle Plaza and Grand Venetian condo residents heard, mostly late at night.

Among the theories:

– It’s vibration from the Port of Miami tunnel project!

– It’s the result of how winds work between Belle Isle high-rise towers!

– A space alien craft is hovering near the coastline!

Miami Beach public works and code enforcement investigated. And now, finally, an answer, according to Grand Venetian resident Herb Frank. And a cure.

Let Herb tell it:

The source of the noise: faulty equipment on the roof of Belle Plaza.

On March 19, 2012, code enforcement officers, Jose Alberto and Ramon Vasallo worked overtime and beyond the call and scope of their duties to search for and discovered that the noise was coming from the roof of the condo.  The building doorman escorted the officers to the roof around 9pm and was able to immediately turn off the fan, which runs intermittently and was not discovered during weekly roof inspections by the building engineer.  A citation was issued and building management has assured code enforcement officers that the fan will be kept off until the new motor they ordered is installed.

The noise had been a mystery for more than two months.  There were continuous complaints to city and county officials from a resident in an adjacent building but the noise either couldn’t be located because of blowing winds or would stop before officials could arrive on the scene.

Phew. We’re taking the tin foil off our ears.

Do you hear the high-pitced noise off Belle Isle?

Here a little mystery Belle Isle Blog has been asked to solve.

Several residents of Grand Venetian at 10 Venetian Way and Belle Plaza at 20 Island Avenue have heard the sound in the evening, sometimes through the night. No one has been able to identify the source.

Here’s part of a note Belle Isle Residents Association board member Herb Frank is passing along:

This noise has been sporadic, but has sounded generally between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.

Since the source or device that is creating this high pitch noise has been elusive and thus far impossible to pin down, the assistance of the community is needed to help identify where it is coming from.

Residents are urged to cooperate, and to report to authorities any unusual high pitch noises, and where they are coming from for the benefit of the community.

During the business day call Code enforcement 305 673 7555. In the evening and weekends  call non emergency police 305 673 7901.

Community Relations Lynn Bernstein   305-673-7000 x6178  cell: 786-229-3972                       lynnbernstein@miamibeachfl.gov

Public Works Director Mike Alvarez,   305 673 7080,   MikeAlvarez@miamibeachfl.gov

Fire trucks at Belle Plaza investigate “suspicious odor”

The last Miami Beach fire truck at Belle Plaza on Tuesday morning.

Belle Plaza residents awoke to fire fighters Tuesday morning, responding to a call about a suspicious odor at the condo, 20 Island Ave.

The smell “dissipated,” according to fire officials at the scene. but not before five Miami Beach fire trucks answered the call, three on Island Avenue in front of the building and two morning on Venetian Way, in the westbound lanes, lights flashing, in front of the Grand Venetian.

The whole thing was over, fire trucks gone, by 7:30 a.m.

Belle Plaza seawall, landscaping move forward

Belle Plaza’s problematic seawall project, delayed after it was built about two feet too far into Biscayne Bay, is nearing completion.

This week, 15 palm trees are to be planted next to the seawall along the east parking lot.

The seawall project at Belle Plaza, 20 Island Ave.,  started in June, and was to be finished in September, inspectors stopped work for several months.

When the seawall is done and the palms are planted, work is supposed to begin on improvements to the barbecue area and general landscaping, as well as repaving of the east parking lot.

At Nine Island, assessment and election stir things up

The temperature is rising again at Nine Island Avenue, Belle Isle’s biggest condo.

Two weeks ago, the board approved a $3.5 million assessment for its 274 unit owners. The money will be used to repair the building’s failing pool deck; the controversy is over the length of time unit owners will have to pay their tab, which ranges from roughly $1,100 a month to $2,500 a month (even more for penthouse unit owners), depending on unit size, for eight months.

Many unit owners — and a board member or two — have complained the payments are too large over too compressed a time frame. It’s become a key issue in the upcoming condo board election, which happens March 9.

To gain some perspective, your Belle Isle Blog asked the leaders at Belle Plaza, 20 Island Ave., and Costa Brava, 10 Island Ave., how they structured their recent assessments.

Here is what we learned:

At Belle Plaza, board president Scott Diffenderfer said his building just ended an assessment to pay for work needed for its 40-year recertification, seawall repair, a new cooling tower and chiller and other incidentals. The cost for $1.2 million, and the building has 226 units.

“The assessment started in January of 2009. Our management company advised us to spread payments over one year, but we decided to give people two years to pay it off because of the difficult economic times everyone was facing two years ago.

“We charged a nominal interest rate to those who chose to pay over time, around 7.5 percent.”

Some homeowners, Diffenderfer said, paid in full up front. “Total assessments ranged between $3,500 and $10,000 a unit, total. Everyone else paid over two years, and paid some interest.”

At Costa Brava, president Nellie Barrios said the building has had three assessments in recent years.

“The first one was for 60 months — too long for cash flow issues. The second was for I think three  years ($200-$300 per month) and the third was for 24 months (about $300-$400 per month), she said, though she isn’t sure of the precise totals per unit.

“Given  the time that is required for the bids, the permits, and the work, I think you might be safe in spreading it out for 12 months possibly 18 but you would have to know how far along in the design, permitting etc. they are at — and EVERYTHING takes longer than you could ever anticipate.”

Diffenderfer said he felt the eight-month payback period would “be impossible for many of our residents.”

Belle Isle buildings struggle with renovations; report from Belle Plaza, Nine Island, Costa Brava

The concrete has been poured at the Costa Brava pool.

The construction and renovation at Belle Isle condos have moved forward on a number of fronts, but not without challenges.

– At Belle Plaza, 20 Island Ave., a seawall reconstruction went awry, with the new seawall built in a slightly wrong location, resulting in violation notices and delays.

A second construction phase is supposed to resume this week, Belle Plaza resident (and Belle Isle Residents Association president) Scott Diffenderfer tells us. Work there started in June, and was to be finished in September, but the new seawall extended two feet too far into the bay. Now,  “everything is cleared for a second try,” Diffenderfer said.

– At Costa Brava, 11 Island Ave., the pool rehab project became an almost complete rebuild, with workers replacing all the original reinforcing steel. That job, which started in August, is now moving forward with the concrete sprayed into place last month and the coping going in this week.

– At Nine Island Avenue, the long-delayed pool deck renovation is nearing lift-off, with a $3.55 million cost estimate. Units owners there have wrangled for nearly 10 years over the need and cost of the project, which at one point was going to include not only renovation work but a redesign.

The need for the renovation is clear; the concrete deck, which serves as the ceiling for Nine Island’s lobby level parking garage, is crumbling and leaking in a variety of places, exposing reinforcing steel and dropping concrete. The city of Miami Beach has filed a violation notice against the building, demanding it be fixed.

The board elected last year hired an engineering firm, and tasked them with providing a cost estimate for fixing the structural issues. Last week, the association sent unit owners notice of a Feb. 15 meeting, at which the board will vote on a $3.55 million assessment.

The work is supposed to take 270 days, and will require closing parts of the parking garage during the construction period. The assessment also includes repairing Nine Island’s tennis courts.

– At Terrace Towers, 3 Island Ave., renovation work continues as well. The city Board of Adjustment has a public hearing scheduled for March 4 to vote on a variance to add pickets to the pool area wall along Venetian Way and exceed the maximum fence height.

2010 was year of the flood, construction for Belle Isle roads, residents and condos

As your Belle Isle Blog celebrates its first birthday, we’re reflecting on a year of community construction, collaboration and change.

We’ve met a lot of folks in Belle Isle and the surrounding islands since our first post. People tell us they appreciate a community website they can call their own, and one that tries to report what’s happening in our area from the perspective of island residents.

We’ve followed stories tiny and mid-sized (big for us), and tried to focus on neighborhood issues that touch our quality of life: traffic, zoning, crime, flooding. We’ve also attempted to highlight the heritage of this unique Miami Beach neighborhood.

Looking back, here are what we think were highlights of year one, 2010:

This cab stalled at Island Avenue and Venetian Way.

– Flooding. In June, Belle Isle and the causeway flooded for the second year in a row after sudden downpour. In October, we flooded (along with West Avenue and Alton Road) without rain, due to high tides and sea water rising up from the sewers. The city commissioned an $1 million engineering study to devise how to fix the problem, and we’ll keep you posted on the progress in the coming year. Meanwhile, work started Oct. 25 to address the frequent flooding at Island Avenue and Venetian Way on Belle Isle — and dragged through the New Year holiday.

Construction workers on Rivo Alto Island guide cars around a detour.

– Venetian Causeway construction and the Streetscape Project. The city installed new water main mains during the last four months of the year on Rivo Alto, DiLido and San Marino islands, putting us in a pretty consistent state of road construction. With that work virtually complete, in January the focus moves on to the streetscape project, which will bring new lighting, landscaping, sidewalks and crosswalks. The construction process will be disruptive, but the end product promises to be beautiful.

Apartment rendering

– Belle Isle Key Apartments zoning battle. Miami Beach staff, the city Design Review Board and ultimately the city commission listened to concerns from Belle Isle residents (and the residents’ association)  in turning down plans to replace the Belle Isle Key Apartments with two 5-story buildings. The building owner altered the plan repeatedly to try and satisfy residents and city concerns about the scale of the project, but they refused to lower the height of one of the two buildings from five to four stories as the design board recommended. So for now, things stay the way they are, and the owner will have to start the application process over again if he isn’t satisfied.

Pool construction at Costa Brava

– Construction in our buildings. There have been major renovation projects in almost every condo on Island Avenue — the sea wall at Belle Plaza, the pool and entrance drive reconstruction at Costa Brava, the entryway at Nine Island and Island Terrace. And there is more to come (lots more) in 2011. Here’s a toast to projects coming in on time and on budget.

During the next two weeks, we’ll try to update these issues in separate posts.

Thanks again for reading the blog.