The love affair the world had and continues to have with The Beatles has not lost any of its luster. Sadly, however, the one-time shared experience for the band and the residents of Miami Beach is now in a state of disrepair.
The oceanfront Deauville Hotel on Collins Avenue now stands abandoned and in need of rescue. Shuttered since April 2017 following an electrical fire, its fate – as well as its doors – were permanently closed following further damage from Hurricane Irma the following September.
2020 was a challenging year, to say the least. Yet despite the worldwide impact of COVID-19, the Deauville 2/16/24 Initiative (a Florida-based group of dedicated Beatles fans) has the outlandishly hopeful idea that the Deauville can be returned to its status as a first-class hotel to help North Beach residents and the surrounding businesses rebuild their community.
The Deauville 2/16/24 Initiative reached out to Liverpool native and Beatles author David Bedford to ask how that city – which was once closed to the idea that The Beatles’ legacy could help rebuild Liverpool’s tourism industry – finally came around to recognize their influence and implement a stunningly successful economic turnaround.
Bedford’s first and most pointed remark concerned the demolition of the original Cavern Club in 1973. It was here where The Beatles played nearly 300 gigs, and where their future manager Brian Epstein discovered them while attending their lunchtime sessions on November 9, 1961. Following the worldwide phenomenon of Beatlemania, by 1965 what should have been considered a venerated building had spiraled away to bankruptcy. By 1973 the city’s decree of a “compulsory purchase order” sealed the Cavern’s fate. Later that year it was razed to create a parking lot.
As Bedford recounted, ”The local authority wanted to allow work to be carried out on the underground rail system, with a ventilation shaft to be installed on Mathew Street, where the Cavern was located. They allowed a compulsory purchase order enabling the Cavern and surrounding buildings to be demolished, in spite of protests. This has been regretted ever since. The biggest regret and embarrassment? The ventilation shaft was never installed, so the Cavern was demolished for nothing!”
Although the Cavern Club was rebuilt near the original site, it has only grown in popularity (as has Liverpool) since the murder of John Lennon in 1980. Few residents could have foreseen their legacy during The Beatles’ lifetime and, as Bedford noted, unfortunately the local government did not help much. However, Bedford — along with others in the 1980s and 90s — envisioned how The Beatles could launch a new tourist industry for Liverpool and then implemented plans to create it. Along with a blend of private businesses such as Cavern City Tours and the Beatles Story, in 2016 the Liverpool City Council formed the Beatles Legacy Group whose mission is to preserve and protect sites related to the Beatles’ life and times while planning and analyzing targets to increase tourism. Their success is in the numbers, with Liverpool attracting more than 60 million visitors a year who spend approximately £100 million (US $135 million) in the city annually.
One final aspect that has a future prospect in the restoration of historic Beatle-concepted properties is the ability to have a twin city connection. As Liverpool and Miami Beach share similarities in their seaside ports, shipping, and tourism (with Miami Beach recently voted as a #1 tourist destination), could there be a possibility for the two to share a Beatles theme? Bedford pointed out that Liverpool is “twinned” with Shanghai and also has a musical “twinning” with Memphis.
“If a business case can be made, that is a possibility.”
With all these points and more to come, The Deauville 2/16/24 Initiative is moving forward into 2021 and beyond, working closely with the City of Miami Beach where officials can apply pressure and influence to help The Deauville Hotel owners reach an agreement for the betterment of the community. Following years of silence and inaction, there were several meetings in 2020 with more dialogue coming forth.
We are available as a unified entity in realizing the Deauville Hotel’s potential to once again bring in tourists and investors to the community. The surrounding businesses and residents (similar to those in Liverpool and elsewhere in the world) could see positive expansion, extraordinary financial growth, and the unique ability to tap into what was unquestionably a highwater mark in the Miami Beach area… circa February 1964.
How to Follow Our Efforts:
Facebook Page: The Deauville 2/16/24 Initiative
About the Authors:
Bob Kealing is founder of three Florida Heritage Sites: The Jack Kerouac House of Orlando (on the National Register of Historic Places – kerouacproject.org); Gram Parsons’ Derry Down, Winter Haven (a historic listening room/concert venue – gpderrydown.com) and in 2019, the Birthplace of the Allman Brothers Band, a Victorian house in Jacksonville’s Riverside District. Kealing is also involved in early discussions to potentially landmark Tom Petty’s boyhood home in Gainesville. He is a six-time Emmy-Award winning journalist, and the author of four books. His newest manuscript-in-progress, tracks the Beatles’ time in 1964 Florida, and will include the ultimate fate of the Deauville Hotel. He is of the belief that the Deauville would easily qualify as a Beatles’ Florida Heritage Site. He would gladly assist/consult free of charge on any Deauville rescue and restoration effort.
Amy Hughes is a graphic designer and former music journalist, photographer, and publicist. Writing for the New England regional publication Metronome Magazine, she interviewed numerous musicians including Don Henley, Bob Geldof, Richard Butler, Jonny Greenwood, Robyn Hitchcock, Glenn Tilbrook, and dozens of Boston-based artists. As a micro-historian, she is currently presenting ‘I’ll Follow The Sun: The Beatles In Florida,’ a two-part retrospective on the band’s visits to Miami Beach and Jacksonville in 1964. She conducted video interviews in 2016 at the Chicago Fest For Beatles Fans and has been fortunate to travel to both London and Liverpool.
Gary McKechnie is a two-time winner of the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award and the author of the nation’s best-selling motorcycle guidebook, ‘Great American Motorcycle Tours.’ He is also a two-time National Geographic author (‘USA 101’ and ‘Ten Best of Everything: National Parks’), a member of the Society of America Travel Writers, and was selected by the Motorcycle Industry Council to chronicle the Cannon Ball Centennial Ride, a 3,450-mile cross country motorcycle expedition. He initiated the drive to renovate the Mount Dora Community Building and created the 501(c)3 non-profit Mount Dora Community Building Foundation to aid in its operation. He also formed the non-profit Mabel Norris Reese Tribute Fund, Inc. which was successful in creating a monument to the pioneering editor of the Mount Dora Topic. In 2018 he ran as the Democratic candidate for Florida State Senate, District 12.
Margot Winick joined Nemours Children’s Health System in 2019, where she manages public relations activities for Florida for the nation’s multi-state pediatric health leader. This follows 20 years in strategic communications management at Florida top research universities, the University of Florida and the University of Miami – her alma mater – where she also taught a college course in media relations for 6 years. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a Master’s in Liberal Studies from the University of Miami. Interested in Florida history archives, she is currently enrolled as a Library Science Masters of Science student at Florida State University’s iSchool. A longtime Beatlemaniac, Winick has contributed to the popular “Beatle Brunch Radio Show,” heard on national FM radio markets, and produced in Fort Lauderdale by Joe Johnson. She also is a voice-over artist whose work has been heard in award-winning films.