|Former Art Deco Hotel converts to private, luxury condos, a trend expected to change the District.
Art Deco District Conversions Raise Concern
By STERLING S. BADER, Art Deco News.Com
The rebirth of the famous Art Deco Carlyle Hotel as million-dollar condominiums is a “very big bag of mixed blessings” for the Miami Beach Art Deco District, says Bill Farkas, Executive Director of the Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL).
Farkas told Art Deco News.Com he’s concerned about a hotel-to-condominium conversion trend having a negative impact on tourism in South Beach, Miami Beach's Historic Art Deco District.
“If we lose the supply of hotel rooms, the street (Ocean Drive) will suffer,” the executive director said. “People come to stay, not just walk around.”
Farkas sees the Carlyle, the 1930s-era hotel made famous in films such as The Birdcage, Scarface and Bad Boys II, as part of a growing trend to turn boutique hotels into ultra-luxury private residences.
“I suspect there will be more conversions,” Farkas said, noting that two other Art Deco hotels, the Edison and Breakwater, were both sold recently to be redone as combination condo-hotels.
On the upside, Farkas said the conversion of hotels to private residences does resolve a major nuisance in the Art Deco District: people noise.
“The most positive thing is they won’t have restaurants and bars with patrons screaming out on the streets,” Farkas said. Eliminating what he described as “significant noise problems” will make Ocean Drive “more quiet and tranquil.”
Also positive, he said, will be improved building maintenance, improved building facades, and the elimination of marketing campaigns once condo units are sold out.
But again, Farkas expressed concern about conversions of Deco hotels to condos as part of a “much larger development issue on the beach; the excessive overbuilding of new condominiums.”
“We have a supply of many years in the making of extremely expensive condos, fueled by the weakened U.S. dollar and the move by South Americans to put capital in a safe place,” Farkas said.
And that overbuilding may worsen, he fears, fueled by “fierce pressure” on small hotel owners to sell out to big-building developers.
Though Art Deco District buildings are protected under the National Register of Historic Places, Farkas said small hotel owners have found ways around that protection.
“There’s fierce pressure on small hotels to get demolished and be replaced by bigger buildings, the MDPL executive director said. “If the owners can get the buildings declared unsafe, then they can be demolished. They let the weather go to work on the buildings and don’t take care of it. They get declared unsafe and the Historic Preservation Board can’t stop it.”