Miami Beach

Adventurous Gables resident chronicles South Beach’s comeback

On any given day Charles Kropke might wade through the Everglades, fly his 1939 seaplane through the tropics or chase down ships to recreate Windjam Sailing Adventures. And sometimes he even sits still in his Biltmore Hotel office as a managing partner of Dragonfly Expeditions, a thriving corporate tour company.

So when a publisher proposed he write a book about the dramatic revitalization of Miami Beach, the entrepreneur / history buff embarked on his first literary voyage—casting aside a recurrent nightmare that he hadn’t finished a paper due the next day for a college course.

Compelled to write something “absolutely new,” Mr. Kropke, 47, hit Miami Beach and interviewed 50 social, political and business entrepreneurs he felt were most responsible for the comeback of the late 1980s.

He and co-writer Eleanor Goldstein recorded their gritty stories to establish businesses and realize a renaissance vision for the area that had deteriorated from the Art Deco beach resort haven in the early to mid 20th century to a blighted warren of dingy hotels and apartments for downtrodden elderly and desperate immigrants.

Mr. Kropke discussed the 2011 picture book South Beach: Stories of a Renaissance at the Aug. 22 luncheon of the Ponce Business Association at JohnMartin’s Irish Pub and Restaurant.

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