French investors buy New Hotel and Lou’s Beer Garden in North Beach

Restaurant/bar will reopen as Blue Beer Garden or B.B.G., with partner Jean-Philippe Bernard

Jan.January 31, 2017 03:45 PM

A French investment group just bought the New Hotel and Lou’s Beer Garden in North Beach, with plans to upgrade the historic property and rename the restaurant and bar, The Real Deal has learned.

The buyer, 83 Invests LLC, led by Thierry Sportich and Laurent Ben Soussan, paid $2.4 million for the 10-unit hotel built in 1937, as well as the restaurant/bar. The price equates to $320 per square foot for the 7,500-square-foot lot or $515 per square foot for the 4,662-square-foot building.

The seller was Oscar and Me Inc., led by Ann Castellano and Illych “Lou” Ramirez of Miami Beach. Records show the couple paid $700,000 for the property at 7337 Harding Avenue in 2007.

Sportich and Ben Soussan’s Marseilles, France-based real estate group owns shopping centers and multifamily projects in France, and more recently has been active in North Beach, attorney Melissa Groisman, partner Rosenthal Rosenthal Rasco, who represents them, told TRD.

“They represent a large group of investors from Marseilles and have been purchasing property in Miami Beach, multifamily for the most part,” she said, “and this is their first hotel venture.”

Brigitte Benichay of Rich Homes of Florida represented both sides of the deal.

“In France, it has become more difficult to develop real estate because of political bureaucracy, inflation, depreciation of the currency,” Groisman said, so they have started additional operations in Florida. In North Beach, they have focused on buying small garden-style apartment buildings, upgrading them, raising the rent and then holding them, she said.

Ben Soussan, who visited New Hotel on Tuesday, told TRD that the group will continue to keep the hotel open, with plans to renovate it in the future.

In the meantime, Lou’s Beer Garden will re-open the weekend after next as a new restaurant and bar called Blue Beer Garden or B.B.G., which is being developed with culinary partner Jean-Philippe Bernard of Villa Azur Restaurant and Lounge in South Beach, Ben Soussan said.

The 40-seat outdoor restaurant will be similar to bars and restaurants in South Beach, like the Broken Shaker, he said. The restaurant’s menu and staff training will be overseen Chef Fred Joulin of Semilla Eatery & Bar in Miami Beach.

Ben Soussan said he has faith in North Beach. “In five or 10 years it will be a good place for tourists, for people living here…. It’s a good chance to change the face of North Beach.”

Miami Beach commissioners have enacted various new measures as part of an effort to revitalize North Beach. Last year commissioners agreed to raise height limits along 71st Street and parts of 72nd Street to allow new buildings for a “town center.” They also approved a short-term rental district along Harding Avenue that will allow many small, older, economically unviable MiMo buildings to be preserved. Other major infrastructure projects in the works include the complete renovation of North Shore Park along the ocean and building a new skate park across from the North Shore Band Shell.

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