Seated at a table inside the Seawell Fish N’ Oyster restaurant at the Kimpton Angler’s Hotel South Beach, Marc Lawrence thought back more than 15 years to when he first saw the space near the corner of Sixth and Washington Ave.
“It was a blight on the City,’’ Lawrence said. “Just an abandoned, homeless hangout.’’
But Lawrence saw the future. He and his partners cleaned up and rebuilt the two original buildings and in 2008 opened a 47-room hotel. Now, after plowing through miles of red tape and millions of dollars, those buildings – and three others – comprise the Kimpton Angler’s Hotel South Beach, a 132-room property that is a cornerstone of the City of Miami Beach’s efforts to revitalize the south Washington Ave., corridor.
“I think we were the first hotel to open on Washington Ave. in 20 years,’’ said Lawrence, who partnered with Kimpton Hotels in 2014.
More than 1,000 hotel rooms reportedly are in the planning stages for the area, but Kimpton Angler’s, with no guestroom smaller than 400 square feet, is expected to be the only boutique property.
The hotel this past summer finished the final phase of its renovation by opening those three new buildings (for a total of five), giving the property a mix of studio, lofts, suites villas, spa villas and poolside bungalows. The hotel also has a rooftop pool deck and sundeck. And for those who like sand between their toes, the beach is only two blocks away.
Hidden away by trees and shrubs along Washington Ave., Kimpton Angler’s is the quintessential SoBe hotel – a throwback to the Mediterranean Revival architecture of pre-Art Deco days in Miami Beach. The pictures in its walls, meanwhile, reflect the hotel’s early days of the 1930s when it was owned by an avid fisherman – and the story goes – a frequent fishing partner of Ernest Hemingway. It’s believed that Papa actually stayed on property, although no such records (or pictures) have been found.
The hotel’s original building – built in 1930 – now is the Seawell Fish N’ Oyster, which features an outstanding menu of New England-style seafood from Executive Chef Julian Garriga. Don’t pass on the Crabby Patty or the Baked Oysters Bingo.
“There are a lot of Florida-based seafood restaurants, I think the beach needs a New England seafood restaurant,’’ said Lawrence, a native New Englander. “We trying to fill that void in the market.’’
And at the same time, make Washington Ave., relevant again.
Photo Credits: Kimpton Angler’s Hotel South Beach