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Deauville resort in Miami Beach on precipice of demolition

Despite efforts to preserve the Deauville Beach Resort, a storied Miami Beach property that in its heyday routinely hosted Hollywood celebrities, the hotel appears likely to meet an ignominious end. 

In a Jan. 7 letter, city manager Alina Hudak informed the Miami Beach City Commission that a structural inspection authorized by the property owners determined the building is beyond repair. If the city’s building inspector confirms the findings, an order of demolition will be issued. 

The Deauville has been shuttered since July 2017, when faulty wiring triggered a fire. Later that year, Hurricane Irma inflicted more damage on the building. 

The City Commission and Miami Beach’s Historic Preservation Board have complained of the building falling into disrepair and criticized the owners, the Meruelo family, for not maintaining the structure. 

The owners, who purchased the hotel in 2004, have commented that financial troubles have prevented them from executing repairs. In 2019, the city sued the Meruelos to force them to do the necessary work to maintain the building, and in 2021 the city began issuing fines for “failure to prevent demolition by neglect.”

The city is expected to complete its own inspection of the property on Jan. 14, and if it confirms the initial report, demolition will be approved with the intention to raze the building prior to the 2022 hurricane season. 

It has been a precipitous decline for the 500-room beachside resort, which opened in 1957. An iconic example of Miami Modernist architecture, the Deauville featured a large swimming pool, a beauty salon, restaurants, shops and an ice rink. 

The Deauville hosted stars like Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, Sammy Davis Jr., Joan Rivers and Jerry Lewis. In 1964, The Beatles recorded a performance in the hotel’s Napoleon Ballroom for an appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” 

The hotel is part of the North Beach Historic District. If the building is demolished, city officials said a replacement structure must mimic the Deauville. 

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