Dead end: Nakash entities sue Miami Beach for closing off Ocean Drive to vehicles

Ownership for four hotels and a commercial space allege street closure is creating check-in chaos for guests

Miami /
Nov.November 05, 2021 09:45 AM

Joe, Ralph, and Avi Nakash with their Ocean Drive properties: Hotel Edison, Hotel Breakwater, Casa Casuarina aka the former Versace Mansion, Hotel Ocean & The Strand (iStock, congresshotelsouthbeach.com)

The New York-based Nakash family that owns four Art Deco hotels, the former Versace mansion and the commercial space in an Art Deco condominium is accusing Miami Beach officials of creating check-in chaos for their customers by banning vehicular traffic on Ocean Drive.

In a lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court last month, entities controlled by brothers Joe, Ralph and Avi Nakash are suing the city and seeking an emergency injunction to allow automobiles on Ocean Drive again. The iconic neighborhood’s street has been closed to cars and trucks since May 2020, except for a brief two-week period in July of the same year.

A hearing is set for Nov. 16. But the Miami Beach City Commission may have already preempted the legal action when it voted this week to allow traffic on the southbound lane of Ocean Drive to resume in 45 days. Earlier this week, Miami Beach voters approved a non-binding ballot question to rollback last call for alcohol to 2 a.m. in the Art Deco Entertainment District.

In an email, Paul Figg, an attorney for the Nakash entities, said his clients are “hopeful” the city commission’s vote “represents a change of direction,” when it previously seemed that Miami Beach officials were intent on permanently closing Ocean Drive to automobiles.

“Assuming the city follows through on its commitment and takes no other steps to materially impair access to our clients’ properties in the future, we believe we can reach a settlement,” Figg said. “As always, our clients remain committed to working with the city on solutions to the problems the city is trying to address.”

The Nakash brothers, who have built a global conglomerate that started with their fashion brand Jordache Jeans, own Hotel Breakwater at 940 Ocean Drive, Hotel Edison at 960 Ocean Drive, Hotel Victor at 1144 Ocean Drive, Hotel Ocean at 1236 Ocean Drive and the commercial space at The Strand at 1052 Ocean Drive. They are also the owners of The Villa Casa Casuarina, the former homestead of the late fashion designer Gianni Versace that’s been converted into a hotel.

In September, Nakash Holdings Vice President Ariel Nakash was among a group of real estate investors and developers who joined a private Zoom conference call featuring Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, Miami Beach City Manager Alina Hudak and former mayor Philip Levine. A nine-minute clip of the meeting was leaked to the media, during which Gelber and Levine were heard courting the group to submit redevelopment proposals for Ocean Drive and forming a political action committee to raise money for city commissioners.

Miami Beach closed Ocean Drive to automobiles as part of a pilot program to allow restaurants on Ocean Drive to expand outdoor seating in order to meet social distancing and other measures designed to stem the spread of Covid-19. Yet, during events like Spring Break, the configuration has allowed large crowds to converge on the street.

According to the complaint, closing Ocean Drive and its intersecting streets has created a “devastating impact on the hotels and restaurants.” Customers are forced to “drag their luggage several blocks in all types of weather, including extreme heat and heavy rain,” the lawsuit alleges.





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