Miami Beach’s iconic Shelborne South Beach is poised for a transformative $85 million renovation, marking a significant rejuvenation for one of the city’s oldest oceanfront hotels. In the face of challenges posed to historic landmarks in the region, the Shelborne’s makeover, initiated by Toronto-based Westdale Properties, New York’s King Street Real Estate, Cedar Capital Partners of London, and Proper Hospitality from Venice, California, serves as a beacon of hope for preserving the city’s architectural heritage. The renovation encompasses the hotel’s 251 rooms, restaurants, pool deck, and event spaces, with an anticipated reopening in the first half of 2025.
History and Architectural Significance:
Built in 1940 by Igor Polevitzky and Tripp Russell, the Shelborne has played various roles throughout its rich history. Originally a MiMo (Miami Modern) skyscraper, it stood tall as one of South Beach’s tallest hotels during its debut. Having housed U.S. soldiers during World War II, the hotel underwent a facelift and a seven-story streetfront addition by architect Morris Lapidus. Recognized as an architectural gem, the Shelborne holds a place in the Ocean Drive-Collins Avenue Historic District.
Preservation Amidst Threats:
As the hospitality industry, a crucial economic driver in Miami Beach, strives to recover from the pandemic, the Shelborne’s renovation comes at a pivotal moment. Facing the looming threats of demolition, the hotel’s new owners express a commitment to preserving Miami’s international renown as a hub for stunning hotels. Mitchell Cohen, COO of Westdale Properties, emphasizes the Shelborne’s significance as both a guardian of the past and protector of the future.
Navigating Pandemic Challenges:
Acquired by Westdale Properties in February 2020 for $120 million, the Shelborne faced delays in its renovation plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite setbacks, the hotel’s early pandemic acquisition and subsequent transformation serve as a testament to its resilience and adaptability.
Setting a Model for the Future:
The Shelborne’s renovation stands as a model for the preservation of historic hotels, showcasing that these architectural treasures can find new life and purpose. Daniel Ciraldo, Executive Director of the Miami Design Preservation League, applauds the project, highlighting its importance in setting an example for the broader hospitality industry.
Mirroring the Shelborne’s revival, the surrounding area undergoes a metamorphosis, with the adjacent Raleigh hotel and the last two blocks of Lapidus’ Lincoln Road mall experiencing significant renovations. The collective efforts signal a positive direction for preserving Miami Beach’s historical and architectural legacy.
In a city known for its sun-soaked beaches and vibrant culture, the Shelborne South Beach’s rebirth symbolizes a commitment to the past and a vision for a thriving future. As this historic landmark undergoes its grand transformation, it stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of preservation and resilience in the face of challenges.