MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - The Deauville Beach Resort, which hosted the Beatles during their Ed Sullivan Show performance in 1964, has fallen far from grace. So far, in fact, that the city is suing the hotel's owners over its disrepair.
The 540-room hotel owned by Belinda, Richard and Homero Meruelo - Deauville Associates LLC, collectively - closed in 2017 after an electric fire and Hurricane Irma damaged the building. Since then, Miami Beach claims that the owners have not made necessary repairs to the building, nor paid nearly $100,000 in outstanding resort taxes.
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, the city is asking a judge to force the owners to pay up and fix up the historic 1950s property, now valued at around $100 million.
"The Property is in a state of disrepair and is being wasted all while Deauville is not taking any significant steps towards performing any work necessary to restore the historic Property and re-open the Deauville Beach Resort," the lawsuit said.
The Meruelos purchased the hotel on Collins Ave. and 67th Street for $4 million in 2004. That same year, the hotel was designated part of the North Beach Resort Local Historic District. The city requires properties located in the district be maintained; they can't have deteriorated facades, broken doors or windows.
After the fire and hurricane damage in 2017, the city decided the hotel had met the threshold of disrepair and warned that inspectors would be reviewing the interior of the property. During an October 2018 inspection, the city found broken windows and concrete.
The Meruelos did not respond to request for comment about the lawsuit Tuesday. But at a Miami-Dade Unsafe Structures Board meeting in December 2018, the hotel owners said they are having trouble recovering money from insurance companies to cover the cost of the necessary repairs, the most urgent of which is a $4.7 million electrical vault to get electricity restored to the building.
"When the city makes it sound like it's just - it's small, it's not.," said Harley Crenshaw, an attorney for the owners, at the meeting. "It is a huge thing, a very complicated thing."
Crenshaw said the repairs can't begin until the vault issue is resolved, which he said could take years. He noted that when the owners tried to use generators to get rid of mold, the city issued a noise violation. Both city attorneys and the owners agreed the hotel has become an eyesore since 2017.
"The building is full of water, full of mold and mildew," said Homero Meruelo in December. "We have no power. I mean, what do we do? We have no money."
This isn't the first sign of trouble with the hotel. The Real Deal reported last year that the Meruelos did not have enough cash to pay a $400,000 judgment against them for ruining a couple's wedding at the hotel in 2010.
Still, Miami Beach wants the Meruelos to come up with the funds to get the hotel back on its feet. Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Gongora said that the Deauville is unique in terms of both its historical significance and its importance to the local economy.
"This is the only large hotel in North Beach," Gongora said. "All of the local businesses and restaurants look to those hotel guests to help make their businesses a success."
Gongora noted that The Beatles performed at the Deauville when they came to Miami Beach in 1964 and that a number of other famous artists have stayed at the hotel.
"It's clearly a part of our fabric, a part of our past and I hope a part of our future. I'm not looking for the hotel to be demolished or anything of that nature," he said. "We're looking for the property owners to be responsible, to fix up their property and reopen to help our city."
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