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VIDEO: Miami Beach's Historic Deauville Beach Hotel Imploded After Falling Into Disrepair

Wed November 16, 2022 - Southeast Edition #24
Miami Herald

The emblematic Deauville Beach Resort in Miami Beach was demolished on Nov. 13 as crowds of onlookers witnessed the fall of the seaside hotel that once hosted icons of music such as The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland and Tony Bennett.

Demolition experts successfully imploded the historic 17-story Deauville tower just after 8 o'clock on a clear Sunday morning.

The oceanfront building at 6701 Collins Ave. crumbled to the ground in a matter of seconds after a series of thundering booms, according to the Miami Herald, marking the end of the road for a hotel that famously hosted the Fab Four in 1964 before falling into disrepair in recent years.

People who gathered on the beach to watch the implosion near 64th Street cheered as the building came down, then quickly were sent scrambling as a large cloud of dust moved south. Crowds also gathered across the street on Indian Creek Drive to see the building's collapse.

The implosion seemed to set off a smoke alarm in at least one nearby building, but a spokesperson of the city of Miami Beach confirmed to the newspaper there were no immediate issues from the implosion.

Steven Cheshire, a South Beach resident, brought his six-year-old daughter to the beach to watch the event.

"A building blowing up on the beach," Cheshire said when asked why he was there. "And the Beatles played here on [the Ed Sullivan Show]. There's historical significance."

Precautions Taken Before Implosion

An "exclusion zone" was set up Sunday morning between Collins Avenue and Harding Avenue, from 65th Street to 70th Street, the Herald reported. People were not allowed outside in this area. In addition, traffic on Collins was closed at 65th Street and diverted to Indian Creek Drive. The roads were later reopened around 10 a.m.

Officials also took the precaution of vacating the structures directly adjacent to the Deauville before the demolition. People in the area were recommended to keep their windows and doors closed to prevent dust from entering homes and other buildings. A "significant amount of dust" in the area surrounding the site was expected, BG Group LLC, the project's contractor, told the Herald.

The company, a specialist in demolition work based in Delray Beach, Fla., oversaw the implosion along with Maryland-based Controlled Demolitions Inc. The same two firms handled the successful implosion of the still-standing portion of Champlain Towers South in Surfside after the catastrophic building collapse in June 2021 that killed 98 people.

Demolition crews began tearing down the lower parts of the Deauville building in September. Contractors first completed asbestos removal from the hotel, which allowed demolition of the building's pool, pool deck, ballrooms and lobby to begin.

The Deauville had been shuttered since an electrical fire in 2017.

Voters Said 'No' to Deauville's Redevelopment

On Nov. 8, Miami Beach voters rejected a ballot question to change zoning regulations at the site to allow Miami Dolphins owner and billionaire developer Stephen Ross to build a luxury condominium and hotel tower there. Ross had a deal to buy the property that was contingent on the referendum's passage.

Municipal officials in Miami Beach had sparred in court for years with the Deauville's owners, the Meruelo family, over millions of dollars in code violations before the city ultimately issued a demolition order earlier this year.

Now, the building's implosion leaves a hole in the North Beach skyline, with the future of the valuable beach property uncertain.

The Herald reported that less than an hour after the implosion, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber sent an email to residents that addressed the recent election results. He warned that, if the lot sits vacant, "it will only be a magnet for vagrancy and crime and will continue to arrest the economic growth of North Beach for decades."

Gelber also wrote that Ross "may still be interested" in developing the site.

"In any case, we need to go back to the drawing board and find a better option for its future," he said.

Some residents have argued Ross, or another developer, should be able to work within existing zoning regulations to build something new at the site, while also paying homage to the Deauville's rich history.

"Of course, the developers want to build as much as possible," said Cheshire, the South Beach resident, noting that he voted against the ballot question. "But you can still build a great big project here."

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