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Old Grand Bay hotel to become new residential Tower, Grove at Grand Bay

In its prime, the Grand Bay hotel in Coconut Grove was the place to be, whether you were a businessman meeting for breakfast, a celebrity seeking publicity or a bride celebrating her perfect day.

But the hotel’s heyday was a long time ago. And soon, it will just be a memory.

The only hotel south of Palm Beach to have ever earned the coveted Mobil five-star rating will be demolished to make way for a residential tower designed by an up-and-coming Danish architect, the developer confirmed Thursday.

“Our plans are to do something that’s very one-of-a-kind,” said David Martin, chief operating officer of Terra Group, which bought the property last summer for $24 million. “We wanted to really build something that people felt they could be proud of.”

For the first time since the purchase, Martin provided details on the company’s plans for the site. After a gradual decline, the Grand Bay has been shuttered for nearly four years, collecting mold, graffiti and pigeon droppings.

The project is called Grove at Grand Bay, here’s what is known:

The building will be 20 stories high with about 96 units, all residential.

Lead design is by Bjarke Ingels Group, or BIG, which has made waves for high-profile projects near Copenhagen and in China, New York City and Utah. Ingels, a 30-something “starchitect” in-the-making, was named Innovator of the Year in Architecture by the Wall Street Journal’s magazine.

Raymond Jungles, the landscape architect who designed the grounds at 1111 Lincoln Road and the New World Symphony’s rooftop garden, will handle the outdoor space. And rounding out what Martin called a “design dream team” is Coral Gables architecture firm Nichols Brosch Wurst Wolfe and Associates, which has worked on Miami-area residential projects and hotels for years — including the original Grand Bay.

Developed by the late Sherwood “Woody” Weiser and Donald Lefton of The Continental Companies for $30 million, the hotel opened in 1983 in an area transitioning from artsy-hippie enclave and cocaine-cowboy hangout to major tourist destination. The 200-roomGrand Bay, at 2669 S. Bayshore Dr., was immediately hailed for its pyramid-shaped structure, its pristine service and its draw for jetsetters, especially Regine’s nightclub, which sat atop the hotel. The eponymous nightclub queen operated party spots around the world but chose the Grand Bay as only her second U.S. location.”I called it Fantasyland,” said Terry Zarikian, who worked there for 10 years in jobs including public relations director for Regine’s.”It was filled with celebrities. It was very, very classy, very chic.”

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Local power brokers talked business over breakfast. Often.

“I’d go there for breakfast a couple or three times a week to meet people,” said Monty Trainer, a longtime Coconut Grove businessman. “The public areas, the banquet rooms and the downstairs and upstairs, the pool area, everything was absolutely gorgeous, well appointed, well furnished. You felt like you were in New York.”

Michael Jackson stayed there. So did Luciano Pavarotti, Prince and Sophia Loren — and just about everybody who was anybody.

“I remember when Elizabeth Taylor asked for a toothbrush,” Zarikian said. “We sent her stone crabs the night she arrived. Crab meat got stuck in her diamond ring and she needed to brush it out.”

In 1987, the Grand Bay earned five stars from Mobil, a feat that has still not been repeated by any other local hotel.

David Kurland was general manager at the time. He said Weiser and Lefton created a haven for VIPs — something that was then, unlike today, hard to come by.

“There was no Miami Beach, per se,” said Kurland, who now manages the La Gorce Country Club. “There were very few places where one could go and be in that type of environment that was A., so elegant, but B., so hip at the time.”

Over time, however, the sheen started to dull. After becoming the Wyndham Grand Bay, the hotel lost a star in 1999, then fell to three in 2001. Other upscale properties opened nearby and on Miami Beach.

The Merco Group bought the property for $25 million in 2005, planning a major renovation. They closed the doors to make $20 million in upgrades in 2008. The recession hit, money dried up and a foreclosure fight followed. The bank took back the property last March.

Terra Group’s Martin has watched the hotel’s rise and fall; he and his father both spent time at the Grand Bay. His sister spent part of her honeymoon there, and a friend got married in the hotel.

But, he said, given the surrounding neighborhood, a “boutique residential project” rather than a 200-room hotel with restaurants and event space would be a better fit.

“I think that what we’re going to be developing here is really going to be special and much less impact to the community and neighborhood,” he said.

The building’s design and a time frame for demolition and construction are still not final. Martin said concept testing is under way and work will likely begin within the next year.

Ingels, he said, is known for designing to the community he is working in.

“What someone wants to do in Shanghai or New York is different than what you’re going to do in Coconut Grove,” Martin said. “It’s really going to be clean and pure and something I think will really work.”

Public art fans will delight in the news that the ribbon-y red Alexander Liberman sculpture out front will stay put.

And while those nostalgic for the Grand Bay’s glory days say they will miss the building, others are looking forward to the next stage for the property.

“I think that it coming down and a beautiful new building going up in its place is great news for the Grove,” said David Collins, executive director of the Coconut Grove Business Improvement District. “It hasn’t helped us sitting quietly and empty.”

Projects Real Estate

Terra Group unveils its newest project, Grove at Grand Bay

Terra Group, Miami’s leading real estate development company, is pleased to unveil its most innovative development to date, and one that is destined to be an architecturally-significant landmark in South Florida: Grove at Grand Bay. In collaboration with the award-winning architecture and design firm Bjarke Ingels Group, also known as BIG, and landscape architecture legend Raymond Jungles, Grove at Grand Bay will leave an unmistakable imprint on the prestigious South Bayshore Drive community, redefining luxury and breathing new life into Coconut Grove for decades to come. Upon completion of construction, the project will also receive LEED Certification with a silver designation, the first such structure in Coconut Grove.

“Grove at Grand Bay’s impressive aesthetic and unparalleled service are tantamount to the evolution of Coconut Grove and raises the bar to Olympic heights,” says Pedro Martin, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Terra Group. “Within the next three years, the area will have completely evolved and Grove at Grand Bay will have proven to be the bellwether of profound change.”

Widely regarded as one of the most important architects to watch, Bjarke Ingels seamlessly translates Terra Group’s grand vision of designing an aerie imbued with a unique sense of place. To say the results are stunning is an understatement: two glass towers in a pas de deux appear to float over Raymond Jungles’ lush, canopied oasis, beckoning to Biscayne Bay and beyond. Renowned for his creative and ecologically sensitive landscape architecture, Jungles’ design capture the natural beauty of the neighborhood and magnify it with ample green spaces.

Rising 20 stories over the bay-front, Grove at Grand Bay will showcase 96 elegant and expansive residences with panoramic views from every angle. Whether outdoors in Jungles’ verdant gardens in the shade of the buildings’ twisting facades or inside the glass jewel box-like homes, residents will fully experience and relish living amid the open air. World-class amenities include private butler service, private elevators, two-car garages, wrap-around terraces, rooftop swimming pools, a wellness spa and fitness center, a pet spa and much more.

“The powerhouse design team of BIG and Raymond Jungles makes this South Florida’s most exciting new development,” adds David Martin, President and Chief Operating Officer of Terra Group. “Our ‘think tank’ model embodies a design-driven approach to development, avoiding pitfalls and upending assumptions developers typically encounter when building a residential property. We pride ourselves on creating environments where people are viscerally and emotionally affected by their surroundings; we are about intelligent luxury.”

BIG, led by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels who recently received Wall Street Journal’s 2011 “Innovator of the Year in Architecture” award, is creating the residences and amenity spaces. Raymond Jungles, the landscape architect who designed the grounds at Lincoln Road in Miami Beach and the New World Symphony’s rooftop garden, will produce the outdoor spaces, including terraces, pools and walking paths. Rounding out the group is Nichols, Brosch, Wrust, Wolfe + Associates who provides architectural and planning services.

The interior design of the residences at Grove at Grand Bay will be just as spectacular as the building’s exteriors. With an open flow-through floor plan, each residence will showcase 12′ ceilings and 12′ floor-to-ceiling windows, a first among Florida developments, and spacious outdoor terraces with wraparound balconies that create a continuous indoor/outdoor living environment. Additional residential features include private elevator access to individual units, Italian-designed kitchens, Miele appliances, and Dornbarcht fixtures.

Grove at Grand Bay will be located on the former site of the Grand Bay Hotel, conveniently located just minutes from key areas including the airport, downtown Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, as well as Coconut Grove’s bustling center area lined with fine restaurants, cafes, art galleries and boutiques. Additional areas of interest are nearby schools, hospitals, shopping malls and attractions such as The Adrienne Arsht Center, The Vizcaya Museum & Gardens and the Barnacle Historic State Park.

Source: WORLD PROPERTY CHANNEL Global News Center