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Miami Beach's Deauville Beach Resort in Danger of Being Shut Down
 Over a Slew of Code and Life-safety Issues

By David Smiley, The Miami HeraldMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

August 11, 2010 --Miami Beach's Deauville Beach Resort, once host to presidents, Hollywood celebrities and what was perhaps The Beatles' most iconic performance, is in danger of being shut down over a slew of code and life-safety issues.

And caught in the middle were a South Miami couple who had to get married in the hotel's noisy lobby because its ballrooms had been shut down.

The 484-room hotel has been hit with more than 100 violations by building and fire officials, and was recently given an ultimatum to fix the problems by the end of August or face possible closing.

"We've put them on notice and met with their team," said Assistant City Manager Jorge Gomez.

Gomez said he believes the hotel's ownership and management are working to fix the problems after a meeting about a month ago, and that he doubted the city would actually have to shut down the hotel.

But despite a recent renovation to the hotel, which was built in the 1920s and then rebuilt three decades later, a number of violations have been outstanding since at least October.

And on June 30 a building official and the city's fire marshal, Sonia Machen, officially closed the hotel's theater and three ballrooms, citing issues such as problems with a fire alarm system and the capacity of exits.

Those closings included the Napoleon Ballroom, where in 1964 The Beatles performed on The Ed Sullivan Show, and the Richielieu Ballroom, where Max and Ely Lippman say they were to be married July 10.

Machen plans to investigate the South Miami couple's allegations that employees hid the closing of its ballrooms from them until it was too late to change their plans.

Instead of holding their ceremony in a large room with an oceanfront view, the Lippmans say they were forced to wed in the Deauville's lobby and hold their reception in a basement "sandwich shop."

"It was a nightmare," Ely Lippman said.

Attempts Thursday to reach Deauville officials were unsuccessful.

The Lippmans, who first told their story to WTVJ-NBC 6, say hotel employees did not notify them of the code violations until about 4:30 p.m. the day before their wedding, making it impossible to change venues. They also say they were allowed to hold a dress rehearsal in one of the closed ballrooms on July 8 despite its off-limits status.

"Everything was affected," Ely Lippman said. "Nobody past the first couple of rows could hear our vows, and we were competing with people rolling luggage, checking in and guests from hotel standing around and talking."

Lippman said she paid the hotel $11,000 but stopped a payment of about $9,000 and is considering legal action against the Deauville.

"They are not returning our phone calls," she said. "They refuse to give us back anything."

Machen said that as of Tuesday, the hotel's ballrooms and theater should remain closed.

Gomez said the hotel's ownership has until Aug. 30 to fix outstanding issues and obtain a business tax receipt.

"At the end of the month, we'll reevaluate," he said.

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To see more of The Miami Herald or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.herald.com.

Copyright (c) 2010, The Miami Herald

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