The club was linked by 91st Street directly to exclusive Indian Creek island and its golf-course estates, where many of its members lived. Over time, its membership embraced the eminently respectable and the somewhat racy. Still today its roster of owner-members includes some big names, including legendary retired Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula, an Indian Creek resident; investor and former corporate raider Carl Icahn; and Charlie Cavalaris, longtime owner of the famed S&S Diner near downtown Miami, which the city designated a historic landmark after he sold it.
As part of the deal with Koc, Zarco said, the proprietor-members will automatically receive memberships for life in the new Surf Club, though most of the original building and its amenities will be available for use to walk-in visitors.
Koc and its local partners, Fort Capital Management, promise direct public beach access through the clubs vaulted, cathedral-like central hallway, known as Peacock Alley, which stretches from the Collins Avenue entrance to the waterfront.
They also pledge to enhance public beach access at the dead-ends of 90th and 91st streets, which form the club propertys south and north boundaries and are heavily used by town residents to walk to the shore.
The historic building, legally protected as a designated historic structure by Miami-Dade County, would function as the free-standing hub of a new 285-unit luxury condo-hotel. The new units, obeying the towns strict height limits, would be spread mostly throughout three 12-story, glass-sheathed towers on the beach side.
Across Collins, on the current site of the clubs parking lot and tennis courts, would rise two four-story buildings, one of them a parking garage designed to look on the outside like an apartment house. The other building would have two floors of residential units over parking.
Although the new buildings are out of scale with the one- and two-story historic club, county preservation officer Kathleen Kaufman wrote in a report, the project represents a reasonable balance. The proposed renovations to the historic building, she wrote, are meticulous and to the highest standards of preservation.
At the historic building, the developers plan to restore a wide keystone staircase leading down to the beach from a broad terrace now taken up by a latter-day bar and dining room, which will be removed.
The developers will also rebuild the clubs famed horseshoe-shaped row of wooden cabanas, a key condition of the county preservation boards unanimous approval of the project. Churchill is believed to have made an oil painting of the beach entitled The Surf Club, Miami, from the deck of one of the cabanas.
One cabana will be designated as the Winston Churchill cabana and will be decorated with Surf Club artifacts and memorabilia.
The cabanas, however, will be moved closer to the shoreline to make room for the projects southernmost tower. That tower will be curved both to echo the shape of the row of cabanas and, because it recedes from the beach at its southern end, to preserve at least a portion of the ocean vista for the Surf House to its south. The 1966 building is oriented west-east and most of its windows, as well as its main entrance, face directly north.
At a four-hour September hearing before the towns planning board, which unanimously endorsed the project, some residents expressed reservations about the new buildings scale and effects on its lower-height neighbors, including the potential for blocked water views and shadows on the beach.
Surf House resident Tom Brothers praised the planned historic renovation but called the proposed new buildings gargantuan, adding: It will completely alter and change not only the skyline of Surfside but the spirit and essence of this community.
But town manager Roger Carlton said the plan meets existing zoning, and noted that he and his staff helped shape the project to harmonize with its surroundings as much as possible in hours of in-house negotiations. The developers are seeking no variances, he noted, but the town and the county preservation board attached 67 conditions to the plan.
The development will add $2.7 million annually in tax revenue to the towns bottom line, Carlton said, and the developers have also promised $1.5 million in contributions to town projects and improvements.