Tag Archives: Belle Plaza

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.”


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.