National Hotel in Miami Beach closes after failing fire inspection

07/23/2013 5:54 PM

09/08/2014 6:48 PM

South Beach’s National Hotel has shut down and dismissed its staff after failing city safety inspections.

Jacques Roy, the National general manager, said the 154-room hotel could reopen as soon as next week once it resolves unspecified safety and building-code issues with Miami Beach. The city’s fire marshal and building department declared the hotel unsafe after recent inspections, according to Miami Beach spokeswoman Nannette Rodriguez. In an email, Rodriguez said “it will not reopen until all work is completed.” The 1939 hotel has been undergoing lengthy renovations.

On Tuesday, state regulators posted the National’s mass-layoff notice to 74 workers, including a form letter to employees stating the dismissals went into effect Thursday, July 18. Though the letter called the layoffs temporary, there was no hint as to when workers might be rehired.

“The National Hotel is grateful for your efforts as an employee and wishes to make your transition from employment with us as smooth as possible,’’ Roy wrote in the letter. Roy said the celebrated hotel has been closed since July 15. The hotel’s online booking system shows no availability for rooms until August 16.

In an interview, Roy did not provide a detailed explanation as to the problem behind the closing. He said the city ordered the oceanfront hotel closed after it conducted building and fire inspections. Roy said the hotel at 1677 Collins Ave. is preparing the proper paperwork to satisfy inspectors, and that repairs aren’t needed to reopen.

While reopening next week is possible, Roy said there is no tentative date. “We have no visibility in terms of the hotel reopening,’’ he said.

The closing comes amid a strained stretch for the hotel, which has been undergoing renovations for years. They were underway in October 2011 when the owner, Claude Dray, was gunned down in his Paris home — a killing that is still unsolved and which European media reported as bearing signs of a professional hit.

His daughter, Delphine Dray, assumed control of the National and presided over what is supposed to be the final phase of a renovation originally priced at more than $10 million.

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