Plans filed for Raleigh Hotel Restoration and Construction Project in Miami Beach

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Plans filed for Raleigh Hotel Restoration and Construction Project in Miami Beach:

Assemblage includes three existing historic properties with plans for new residential tower

The owners of the Raleigh and the adjacent Richmond and South Seas hotels have filed plans with the Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board to restore the properties and operate them as a luxury hotel with new residential units. In addition, they are seeking approval for construction of a new 200-ft, 18-story oceanfront residential tower behind the Richmond and South Seas.

Developer Michael Shvo and partners purchased The Raleigh in February 2019. They later put the adjacent Richmond and South Seas under contract with the intention of creating a unified development site pending approval of a height increase that would allow for a new residential tower. In July of last year, the City Commission approved a height increase from 50 to 200 feet for ground level additions on large oceanfront lots from 16th to 21st streets. The partnership closed on the Richmond and South Seas shortly after.

The Raleigh Master Plan submitted to the Historic Preservation Board (HPB) by BSD Raleigh Trustee LLC lists New York architect Peter Marino and Miami-based Kobi Karp Architecture & Interior Design.

In the application, Attorney Alfredo Gonzalez of Greenberg Traurig wrote, Shvo “seeks to unify the Properties as one site in order to restore the Historic Raleigh Hotel and iconic pool, and the frontage buildings of the Richmond and South Seas Hotels to its original 1941 grandeur.”  


The new oceanfront tower will be “strategically internalized to the Properties and situated to the rear of the 3-story Richmond and South Seas Hotel buildings,” Gonzalez stated. 

The tower “is significantly setback from the front, side street and rear property lines,” he noted. Its placement “is designed to minimize the impact of this development on the public view corridors and the pedestrian experience. For example, the Project’s design provides optimal views of the Raleigh, Richmond, South Seas Hotels (in addition to the abutting Marseilles Hotel) from a pedestrian perspective facing South.”

On the interior, its “intentional placement angled at a 45-degree position, creates a central focal point at the Properties – that being the iconic Raleigh swimming pool,” Gonzalez wrote.

The Raleigh, located at 1775 Collins Avenue, is currently closed while undergoing construction of lower level basement improvements and construction on the pool cabanas previously approved by the HPB. In addition to exterior renovations to “resemble as closely as possible” the original 1941 L. Murray Dixon Art Deco/Streamline Moderne design, “notable interior spaces” will be restored as well, according to the application. Plans call for expanding the ground floor restaurant, bar and lounge operations including the addition of an outdoor dining area within an interior courtyard of the unified properties. 

While the facades and front portions of the Richmond and South Seas hotels will be restored, plans call for partial demolition of the middle and rear sections of the buildings to allow for construction of two residential buildings. An additional swimming pool is proposed along the rear of the properties for future guests and residents. 

The Richmond, 1757 Collins Avenue, is operating with 107 hotel units. The South Seas at 1751 Collins currently operates as a hotel with 117 units. The Richmond and South Seas are also L. Murray Dixon designs.

According to the application, “[T]he existing hotel units located within the Richmond and South Seas Hotel are included in the complete demolition of the middle and rear portions of these buildings. However, the front portions of the 3-story exterior buildings will remain with the existing lobbies being restored with the original terrazzo floor details.”

The renovated Richmond Hotel lobby will include indoor dining, lounge and bar space and serve as a lobby for the hotel operations. The interior space of the South Seas Hotel will serve as the entrance to the residential properties.

Text accompanying the renderings describes a new beach pavilion as providing “both a subtle integration of vehicular access to an underground drop-off area to the residences and a separate, open-air, small restaurant nestled within extensive tropical landscaping,” 

The Raleigh gardens will remain.

According to the Historic Resources Report for the assemblage written by architect Arthur Marcus, “The Raleigh was among 41 hotels with a total of 2,789 guest rooms built on Miami Beach between 1940 and 1942… building activity in 1940 was higher than any other year on record.” 

“During the opening night ceremonies on New Year’s Eve 1940, a sick band member had to be replaced by a then local unknown drummer with the name of Desi Arnaz,” Marcus wrote. 

Fast forward to 2014 when designer Tommy Hilfiger purchased the property for $56.5 million. Hilfiger had plans to operate the hotel as a private club. Hurricane Irma hit in 2017 prior to completion of proposed renovations and the hotel was closed.

Shvo and partners Bilgili Holdings and Deutsche Finance America purchased The Raleigh from Hilfiger in 2019 for $103 million. 

They purchased the Richmond and South Seas for a combined $140 million in August 2019.

In his report, Marcus noted that four of the seven properties on the east side of the 1700 block of Collins Avenue were designed by Dixon: The Raleigh in 1940, Richmond in 1941, South Seas in 1941 and the Ritz Plaza Hotel in 1940. “[L]ost in a sea of notable Dixon skyscrapers to the north & south, the Richmond and the South Seas have not been given the due they so rightly deserve,” he wrote. Each had additions designed by Melvin Grossman in the early 1950s.

The Raleigh assemblage is expected to be on a “discussion-only” agenda for the HPB on May 12. It is also listed on the agenda for the June HPB meeting. (Whether or not it is a discussion-only item or up for a vote will depend on where the City is in its reopening plan following COVID-19 closures.)

Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL) Executive Director Daniel Ciraldo said “MDPL’s Advocacy Committee looks forward to reviewing the proposed plans with the project team next week and we will be providing our feedback at the Historic Preservation Board’s upcoming discussion-only meeting.”

Full application is here.

Renderings: Kobi Karp Architecture & Interior Design
The Raleigh assemblage as proposed, view from Collins

The new residential tower as proposed, view from ocean

The Raleigh's iconic pool with proposed residential tower

The Raleigh, December 2019

Rendering of The Raleigh and new residential tower, view from Collins Avenue

The Richmond and South Seas as proposed, view from Collins Avenue

Proposed courtyard between Richmond and South Seas

Rendering of proposed Richmond lobby

Proposed South Seas lobby

Proposed west side pool view

The Raleigh pool, proposed restored view

Rendering of The Raleigh looking toward The Richmond

Proposed Beach Club

Proposed Beach Club from 18th Street with new residential tower