Miami Beach

Faena District to launch with fanfare

The residential buildings Faena Versailles Classic and Faena Versailles Contemporary are scheduled to open in 2017.
The residential buildings Faena Versailles Classic and Faena Versailles Contemporary are scheduled to open in 2017. HayesDavidson

When the sprawling Faena District in Miami Beach finally opens after years of work in November, the developers of the hotel, residential, retail and arts project want to celebrate with a cast of thousands.

At a small gathering Thursday night at Casa Claridge — a restored Spanish-style hotel that sits on the north end of the Mid-Beach district — the Faena team unveiled plans for the inaugural Faena Art program.

The opening act, set for Nov. 29, will be a big one: “a thousands-strong, district-wide, people-powered processional performance,” according to a poster that urges local artists and cultural leaders to participate.

“In the end, everything that we do is an excuse to create a platform for social interaction,” said Ximena Caminos, chair of the nonprofit Faena Art organization and executive director of Faena Forum Miami Beach, scheduled to open in winter of 2016.

Other programming at the forum, a 50,000-square-foot building designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Rem Koolhaas and his Office for Metropolitan Architecture, will include a full-length ballet; a series of solo performances by those who practice music, philosophy, poetry or science called Soledades; and debates and interactive experiences.

Alan Faena, an Argentine developer and self-described “urban alchemist,” has been working to turn the stretch of land between 32nd and 36th streets on both sides of Collins Avenue into a new cultural hub. With business partner Len Blavatnik, he is modeling the Miami Beach transformation on the project they built in the Puerto Madero neighborhood of Buenos Aires, which also includes a hotel, condos, retail, restaurants and the Faena Art Center.

Speaking to a group of artists, museum leaders and other cultural insiders, Faena on Thursday referred to Miami as a “spectacular, fantastic dreamland” and emphasized that the district and its offerings are meant for the entire community. Faena and Caminos, his partner, moved to Miami Beach from Argentina to oversee the project.

The first part of the district — the 169-room Faena Hotel Miami Beach — is scheduled to open Nov. 1, Faena Group announced Thursday. Film director and producer Baz Luhrmann and his wife, the production and costume designer Catherine Martin, are designing the hotel.

A reworking of the historic Saxony Hotel, the property will include a 3,000-square-foot theater featuring live cabaret shows, the 15,000-square-foot Tierra Santa Spa and a restaurant from Argentinian chef Francis Mallmann called Los Fuegos, which will include an outdoor barbecue. The top two floors of the building will be taken up by 13 penthouse residences.

Residents of the sold-out Faena House, a 47-unit beachfront tower designed by Foster + Partners, will start moving in this summer. And future additions to the district include Faena Bazaar, opening in winter of 2016, and residential buildings Faena Versailles Classic and Faena Versailles Contemporary, both opening in 2017.