Owners of Deauville Resort Agree to Extra Security

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Owners of Deauville Resort Agree to Extra Security:

Recent fires there prompted Miami Beach to take emergency legal action

The owners of the Deauville Beach Resort have agreed to better secure the shuttered hotel following recent trespassing and fire incidents there. The City of Miami Beach sought an emergency injunction for the appointment of a receiver to oversee the property and to force the owners to properly secure the building after two small fires were started by what appears to have been trespassers. Citing the danger to emergency personnel and the surrounding neighborhood, the City asked for the emergency relief.
Before the request could be heard, the two sides negotiated an agreement that requires the Deauville to have three security guards on-site between the hours of 7:30 pm and 7:30 am within fifteen days. At least one of the guards will be on the east side or back of the building during the 12-hour patrol and one will be trained and designated as “fire watch.” A contractor is already there during the daytime hours according to Deputy City Attorney Steven Rothstein.
The order also states there will be three points of ingress and egress at the property with keys provided to the City of Miami Beach’s Police and Fire Departments. In addition, the owners have agreed to increase the fence height on the beach side of the property. Rothstein said, currently, the lower fence height provides easy acessbility for trespassers who jump over it. The issue of a receiver to be appointed to oversee the hotel is deferred until a later hearing.
The Deauville Beach Resort, located at 6701 Collins Avenue in the North Beach Resort Local Historic District, has been closed since an electrical fire in July 2017. It sustained further damage from Hurricane Irma that September. 
After multiple attempts to get the owners to make repairs, the City filed suit last month  seeking an injunction to avoid demolition by neglect, collection of $91,000 in unpaid taxes, and for the appointment of a receiver to oversee the necessary repairs.
In its emergency motion Friday, the City said its original suit was filed due to the “Deauville Beach Resort’s protracted state of disrepair and fear that the owners of the Deauville Beach Resort are intentionally neglecting to maintain the property in accordance with the City Code and Florida law which will eventually lead to the deterioration beyond repair of the historic structure.”
“Coincidentally, on the very same day Deauville was required to respond to the City’s Complaint, multiple fires broke out in the Deauville Beach Resort,” the emergency filing states. The complaint cited two fires, one in the main lobby and the other in the reservation office, that occurred on March 6. 
“Additionally, MBPD responded and noticed several convincing signs of ongoing homeless activity within the structure,” according to the filing. 
Due to the lack of electricity in the building, the security cameras are not functioning but, the emergency filing notes, “It is strongly suggested that this fire was caused by a trespasser or trespassers … which trespassing Deauville has permitted due to its failure to adequately secure the property.”
“Deauville is responsible for the on-going security of the Deauville Beach Resort which was made clear in the Miami-Dade County Unsafe Structures Board Order [in December, 2018] requiring Deauville to ‘maintain secure’ the property,” the City stated. According to a City spokeswoman, the property is currently secured by a temporary chain link fence and locks.
“Luckily, the damage caused by the fires were isolated to the main lobby and file room. However, the Deauville’s perpetual disregard for securing the property invites the real possibility of a larger fire endangering the community at large, surrounding structures and Miami Beach first responders and employees. The Deauville’s ongoing failure to repair and maintain the property in accordance with the City Code, and its failures to adequately secure the property are genuine matters of public concern requiring the immediate and urgent need for: (1) a temporary injunction requiring the Deauville to adequately secure the property; and (2) the appointment of a receiver due to Deauville’s ongoing and intentional failures to comply with the Miami-Dade County Unsafe Structures Board Order, City Code and Florida law.”
“The Deauville Beach Resort remains closed with no opening in sight as a result of the Deauville’s mismanagement of the property and disregard for the historic structure. Moreover, the appointment of a receiver is needed to the self-dealing of the Deauville and breakdown of trust and communication between the City and Deauville,” the emergency filing states.
“If the Deauville is allowed to disregard its obligation to secure the property then the harm to the City, its residents, tourists, and structures surrounding the Deauville Beach resort will be immeasurable. The potential loss of life and property clearly outweighs any possible hardship to the Deauville. Frankly, we are lucky that the multiple fires and trespasses at the Deauville have not already caused the loss of life and property.”

The 538-room ocean front hotel was designed by architect Melvin Grossman and constructed in 1957. It is considered a “contributing” structure within the City’s North Beach Resort Local Historic District. Many famous entertainers of the 1950s and 60s including Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, Tony Bennett, Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Sophie Tucker, Henny Youngman, Milton Berle, and Jerry Lewis performed there. It is also known for being the location of the Beatles’ performance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.”
The property has been the topic of much concern at the City’s Historic Preservation Board and Commission meetings and among local businesses who say they are suffering as a result of the hotel’s closure.
In its original suit filed last month, the City claimed the owners have allowed the property to fall into disrepair and have “no intention of voluntarily undertaking the repairs necessary to bring the Property into compliance with the City Code and the City’s Historic Preservation Board, and Deauville is hedging its bets that the City will eventually allow the demolition of the structure.”
The owners requested a sixty-day extension to respond to the City’s initial filing. In their request, they write “[T]here is complexity in allocating loss among the three separate causes” – noting the hurricane, an electrical arc event, and the subsequent fire caused by the electrical issue – “and the three corresponding groups of insurers. And then there is a third party who appears to be ultimately responsible for Arc/Fire event.”
“Based upon the foregoing facts, it should not be surprising that as between the three corresponding groups of insurers and third party, each points the finger at the others leaving Deauville with a shutdown hotel in the meantime,” the request states.
“Before diving into this complexity, Deauville stresses an overarching point: it only wants to be made whole from these losses which are not its fault – nothing more, nothing less.”
Citing mediation events and the complexity of the claims, the extension request adds there has been “little time for securing counsel to represent Deauville in this case.” The request says an extension would allow the owners to prepare for and participate in the insurance mediation process “maximizing the chances that a settlement will take place.” 
The extension for response was granted. In the meantime, the property will be secured based on today’s agreement. 

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