A historic South Beach hotel is being renovated without proper permits, angering neighbors and prompting the city to stop the work Wednesday morning.
The Starbucks on the first floor of the Stanton Marriott at 161 Ocean Drive is closed and obscured by a wooden fence, where a city planning manager confirmed this week that the interior is being demolished beyond what is allowed by a building permit.
As residents grew upset Wednesday, an attorney for the owner said the work bring done is simply necessary repairs, and the Starbucks will remain and be restored to its original form.
The hotel was built in 1939 and designed by Anton Skislewicz.
Debbie Tackett, preservation and design manager for the city’s planning department, wrote in a Tuesday email to a resident that the renovation should have gone before the Historic Preservation Board for approval.
“After reviewing the work that has been done within the original lobby of the Stanton Hotel, it has been determined that this work will require an after-the-fact Certificate of Appropriateness to be reviewed and approved by the Historic Preservation Board,” Tackett wrote.
In a separate email to planning director Tom Mooney, she described seeing demolished stairs and ceiling.
Because this area is a former public lobby that was converted into a Starbucks, changes are supposed to be approved by the Historic Preservation Board.
On Wednesday, the city issued a stop order to halt the work.
Neighborhood residents told the Miami Herald they were shocked and concerned after seeing the fence go up, which is advertising a future Lolo’s Surf Cantina.
“This is a historic building in a historic district,” said Michael Barrineau, president of the South of Fifth Neighborhood Association. “The owner seems to be doing whatever they want, and we’re offended by that.”
Frank Del Vecchio, a longtime activist and South of Fifth resident, raised the question of how the work hadn’t been previously detected.
“How did the city let them get away with this during building inspection?”
Key International, a real estate development company, owns the hotel, according to the company’s website.
Neisen Kasdin, attorney for the owner, said the Starbucks is not going anywhere. He said the Lolo’s sign is meant to advertise a restaurant that is going in the back of the building, and the work being done in the Starbucks is the result of unforeseen and necessary repairs.
Kasdin said the owner will request after-the-fact approval from the preservation board and the space will be fully restored.
“The Starbucks is staying,” he said. “It’s going to look the way it did before, with key historic features restored.”