Come about late May the Starwood outpost of Aloft is finally set to open on South Beach, up at the very northern tip of the neighborhood, on 23rd and Collins Avenue. This is big news for the area, not just because it’s being billed as an affordable retreat in an otherwise ridiculously expensive, overly hyped town, but it is also a property that has been something of blight for what is arguably the grand entrance to South Beach.
A long long way back when South Beach was still a bit of an edgy (and fun) the old 1950’s motel at 2360 Collins was the Banana Bungalow, a rundown albeit inexpensive youth hostel on its last legs. In 2003 it was purchased by a developer, Ken Fields who then turned it into The Creek South Beach, and invited young artists from all over the country to design the hotel rooms, fixing up the rest of the property and turning it into a legitimate 2 or 3 star hotel with a great pool deck and bar. Ocean Drive did an expose on preservationist architect Allan Shulman who was hired by Fields to redevelop the site (mixed use hotel and residential). After the plans were approved by the City the property and all rights were sold to yet another development firm from NYC, the project was re-christened The Rivage (awful name)… and then the real estate bubble burst and the property has been sitting mostly abandoned and boarded up since.
Basically this Aloft has been a project almost 12 years in the making!!! So all of us who have waited with baited breath for all these years to finally see what comes of the this place are ecstatic to see something. While the original plans by Shulman were much better than that which we’ll see now, at least something is going up there.
Keep an eye out come end of May.
The image we have here are construction photos last year, dug up from personal archives.