Bikers ride past (from left to right) The Raleigh, Richmond Hotel and South Seas Hotel near Collins Avenue and 18th Street on Friday, July 29, 2022, in Miami Beach. The hotels are being revitalized in a $750 million redevelopment project. MATIAS J. OCNER
A New York developer is set next week for a big step in a back-to-the-future $750 million redevelopment of The Raleigh hotel, the historic Art Deco jewel in Miami Beach, and two of its neighboring lodging properties on Collins Avenue. The long-awaited partial demolition of the Raleigh is set for Tuesday. Development firm SHVO, which started construction inside the hotels in the spring, expects to finish the work that includes a new boutique condominium building by 2025.
“Part of my vision when we acquired this building was to bring the Raleigh and the adjacent properties into their original form as they were designed by Murray (famed Art Deco architect Lawrence Murray Dixon). Over the years, there’s been multiple renovations and additions,” said Michael Shvo, chairman and CEO of SHVO. “We are peeling the onion, bringing back these buildings to their original state. Once we are done, the public will see these historic buildings as they were originally built.”
The Raleigh and Richmond Hotel will have 60 hotel suites while the South Seas Hotel will house a fine-dining restaurant. A new 17-story, 175-foot condominium called the Rosewood Residences Miami Beach will sit behind the Richmond and South Seas. It will house 44 residences. The Rosewood Hotel Group will manage the Raleigh Hotel and Raleigh Residences. Murray Dixon designed the three boutique hotels, which were all completed between 1940 and 1941. After opening on the brink of World War II, The Raleigh later became known as a breeding ground for celebrity sightings, Miami Design Preservation League Executive Director Daniel Ciraldo said. Lucille Ball’s husband and “I Love Lucy” star Desi Arnaz performed in a band on the site before his hit show, competitive swimmer and actress Esther Williams splashed in the iconic pool and Karl Lagerfeld later debuted a Chanel cruise collection on site.
SHVO committed to revitalizing The Raleigh in 2019, taking control of the property from former owner and designer Tommy Hilfiger who originally planned on converting the eight-story hotel at 1775 Collins Ave. into an exclusive members-only club. SHVO acquired The Raleigh, The Richmond and South Seas for a combined $242.5 million and set aside $507.5 million for construction. The partial demolitions are meant to reveal the original facades of the Richmond, at 1757 Collins Ave., and the South Seas, at 1751 Collins Ave., hidden behind plaster made in the 1950s by the Deauville architect Melvin Grossman. The Raleigh’s historic facade will remain intact, but a penthouse unit not part of the original design will be removed.
Partial demolition is slated for The Raleigh, Richmond and South Seas hotels next week, making way for a new project designed to revitalize a long-abandoned site in Miami Beach. Above: Here’s a rendering of the completed project. SHVO
The condo design pays homage to Murray Dixon’s original Art Deco features, a celebration of the Jazz age with notable neon lights and vertical lines. SHVO hired architects Kobi Karp and Peter Marino to design the new condo building and collaborate on the restoration efforts.
The Raleigh, Richmond and South Seas hotels were all finished between 1940 and 1941. Above: Here’s a vintage photo of the original facade of the South Seas Hotel.
“Buildings are like people. We have people in our past that we can use inspiration and we can sit on their shoulders and become better if we understand and build upon the history,” Karp said. “If we build upon our history, we become better prepared and people for that. By using the history of the buildings, we bring you through the old and bring you into the new.”
This is an aerial view (from left to right) of The Raleigh, Richmond Hotel and South Seas Hotel near Collins Avenue and 18th Street on Friday, July 29, 2022, in Miami Beach. Developer Michael Shvo will start partial demolition of the hotels next week. MATIAS J. OCNER
Historic preservationists endorse the ambitious project since it will bring life back into the Miami Beach buildings, Ciraldo said. “These buildings are not museums,” he said. “People will be able to enjoy this. That’s very important. It’s ambitious but exciting.”