Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to buy Deauville hotel, plans luxury complex in Miami Beach

·4 min read
Pedro Portal/pportal@miamiherald.com

Miami Dolphins owner and real estate developer Stephen Ross will purchase the historic Deauville Beach Resort in Miami Beach to build a luxury hotel and condos.

Ross announced the purchase of the 3.8-acre beachfront hotel on Monday in coordination with Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber. The 540-unit resort has been shuttered for nearly five years and is being demolished.

Ross, chairman and founder of the Related Companies, has signed a purchase agreement to buy the land and said he has tapped world-famous architect Frank Gehry to design the new project.

The Deauville, 6701 Collins Ave., was built in 1957 and famously was the site of a Beatles performance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964. But the hotel has been sitting vacant since a 2017 electrical fire forced guests out and touched off a lawsuit from the city of Miami Beach alleging that the owners were neglecting the building to seek a demolition.

The imminent demolition of the Deauville, located in a historic district, has angered preservationists and North Beach advocates who want to preserve the city’s history. An appeal of the city’s demolition order was rejected Friday.

In a statement, Ross said he understood the importance of the Deauville to people in Miami Beach and wants to pay homage to the original building while creating a “transformational project.” Ross grew up in Miami Beach and graduated from Miami Beach Senior High School.

“As a native of Miami Beach, this project is personal to me,” he said. “I know what this site means to the people of Miami Beach, and I know the potential to create a truly special development that honors the history of the Deauville while creating an iconic place for generations to come.”

Demolition work on the Deauville began in March with the removal of the hotel’s metallic red sign and its driveway canopy, but workers must remove the asbestos in the property before proceeding with tearing down the rest of the building. The planned implosion of the hotel’s 17-story tower has not yet been scheduled.

A spokesman for Related Companies said Ross plans to build the new project on the site after the Deauville is demolished.

Related Companies is behind New York’s Hudson Yards and the Deutsche Bank Center. Gehry, a Pritzker Prize-winning architect, is known for projects that include the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Gehry, now 93, also designed the New World Center in Miami Beach.

Gehry, who visited the site Sunday, said in a statement that he was honored to partner with the Miami Beach community and with Ross.

“This site presents an unmatched opportunity to create a landmark for the next generation,” he said.

The price of the sale was not disclosed and specific plans for the proposed project were not released.

Gelber, who praised the proposed project as an opportunity to revitalize the Deauville property, said in an email to residents that the project may need a ballot referendum to give Ross “the ability and flexibility to do something transformative.”

He said he would ask the City Commission to place a referendum on the November ballot related to the project, but it remains unclear what development incentives Ross is requesting.

“He is not looking to increase density but needs more flexibility in the design possibilities,” Gelber said. “He wants to do something special and beautiful in his old neighborhood. Something we will all be proud of.”

Miami Beach’s historic preservation rules give the Historic Preservation Board the authority to decide how the Deauville will be replaced after it is demolished. The city’s policy includes a “presumption” that the demolished building only be replaced with a new structure that has the same height, massing and square footage of the previous structure on the property. The Historic Preservation Board also has the right to demand that the new project be built as a replica of the Deauville.

In his email, Gelber said requiring the re-creation of the Deauville would be impractical.

“If we hold out for that, the property will unquestionably remain undeveloped and vacant indefinitely,” he said.

For the project to move forward, Gelber said he wanted the maximum number of living units to be less than what is currently allowed. He also contemplates negotiating for public benefits as part of the project and he said he wants Ross to remain the developer throughout the project’s conception.

“The truth is, this is an opportunity to respect our history while still setting a path for our future that lifts the neighborhood and delivers something extraordinary to our residents,” he said. “The details will matter, of course, but we will all get a chance to vote on the measure in November as it will be on the ballot for your consideration. What we do next matters, and this project allows us to create our own history.”