Miami Beach hotelier says forget curfew, fix zoning to save oceanfront nightlife after shooting right outside

Miami Beach hotelier says forget curfew, fix zoning to save oceanfront nightlife after shooting right outside

Miami Beach Hotelier Mitch Novick discusses impact of city’s state of emergency declared over spring break

Fox News’ Michael Ruiz interviews Miami Hotelier Mitch Novick about the state of emergency declared over spring break.

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – The Miami Beach hotelier whose surveillance cameras captured panicked spring breakers fleeing from the sound of gunfire in the heart of South Beach last week is calling on city officials to change zoning in the area to cut down on “chaos and mayhem” and replace it with “something a little more sophisticated.

Mitch Novick, who owns the Sherbrooke All Suites Hotel at Collins Avenue and Ninth Street, is calling for a complete rebranding to attract fewer rowdy young people and more international travelers and adults to the city – while preserving the waterfront community for residents, businesses and the millions of visitors who pass through each year.

Around the corner from his hotel, a shooting broke out Sunday night that left multiple people injured. Another one broke out just a block away on Monday.

Mitch Novick, owner of the Sherbrooke Hotel in Miami Beach, has more than 30 security cameras around the building. Several of them captured chaos last weekend when gunfire broke out in the South Beach Entertainment District.
(Michael Ruiz/Fox News Digital)

“The city zoning, which is known as mixed-use entertainment, that’s the zoning classification in this area, it fuels a carnival-like atmosphere in the street,” he told Fox News Digital Saturday speaking on the penthouse patio atop his hotel. “The zoning itself allows the opportunity for businesses, especially along Ocean Drive, to blast their noise…to the shore line, to have dance performances on the public right-of-way, essentially creating an attractive nuisance, which is the crux of the problem.”

He said the city’s emergency spring break curfew, which forces restaurants and bars to close their doors at midnight and liquor stores to halt sales at 6 p.m. between Thursday and Sunday, is a stopgap measure at best and that residents are looking for enduring solutions. 

Spring Breakers Flee A Shooting in Miami

“In November, the voters of Miami Beach overwhelmingly decided they wanted to see a 2 a.m. rollback and closing time, from what is now 5 a.m.,” he said, referring to the last call time for bars and alcohol-serving restaurants. “This is the third year in a row where we’ve had an emergency declaration declared where there’s a curfew. The streets are fortified with cops. It’s unfair to residents, it’s unfair to businesses, and it’s also unfair to visitors. It’s very disruptive.”

The first night of Miami Beach’s spring break curfew saw smaller crowds, which thinned out early and were completely gone after the midnight shutdown.
(Michael Ruiz/Fox News Digital)

This week of the busy spring break season also coincides with Miami Music Week and the Ultra electronic music festival, both of which attracted visitors from around the country and overseas who have no interesting in college parties. But the curfew cuts them off from the city’s famous nightlife scene after midnight as well.

The call for changes has resonated with city leaders, even as March mayhem has spiked over the past two years. Police say more than half of the 600-plus arrests made between Feb. 18, when they started spring break enforcement, and March 20 involved residents of Miami-Dade County, not travelers who flew in for vacation. 

Spring Breakers Flee A Shooting in Miami

Mayor Dan Gelber said earlier this week that more than 100 guns seized in that span were driven into the city. 

On Saturday, he told Fox News Digital he envisioned an Art Deco-inspired overhaul to bring arts and culture to the South Beach entertainment district, replacing the “play, play, play area” with a “live, work, play area.”

It’s the type of overhaul that might appeal to more mature visitors as well as locals, including Novick, who bills his hotel as a “clean, comfortable, and quiet” retreat “in a meticulously restored historic 1948 Art Deco building.”

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    The first night of Miami Beach’s spring break curfew saw smaller crowds, which thinned out early and were completely gone after the midnight shutdown. (Michael Ruiz/Fox News Digital)

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    The first night of Miami Beach’s spring break curfew saw smaller crowds, which thinned out early and were completely gone after the midnight shutdown. (Michael Ruiz/Fox News Digital)

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    The first night of Miami Beach’s spring break curfew saw smaller crowds, which thinned out early and were completely gone after the midnight shutdown. (Michael Ruiz/Fox News Digital)

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    Miami-Dade County Police sent assistance to Miami Beach Thursday to help enforce the curfew’s first night, (Michael Ruiz/Fox News Digital)

There’s also a disclaimer on its website: “no-nonsense; we’re not a party hotel.”

While millions of Miami Beach visitors every year are in search of the nightlife, the disruptions during spring break season stand out.

“A lot of the time, it’s just fine, we talk about it in March and it makes headlines – but it doesn’t happen a lot,” Gelber said. “We have the same issues any city with huge numbers of visitors has, but we don’t [always] have what we have in March because spring break is an entirely different creature.” 

He said he’s already drawn up plans for some of his proposals, which call for an investment of at least $25 million on the beachside Ocean Drive.

“I think we’re really selling ourselves short,” he said. “It’s an incredible place with amazing architecture.”

But despite the landscape, the historic buildings and the beaches, he said, people treat it like “a sort of Las Vegas…where it is like they’re actually in the middle of the desert and there’s nothing else to offer but hard parties.”

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    Spring Break Miami. 23 Mar 2022 Pictured: Spring Break relaxing on the beach (Fox News Digital)

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    Spring Break Miami. 23 Mar 2022 Pictured: Spring Break relaxing on the beach (Fox News Digital)

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    Spring Break Miami. 23 Mar 2022 Pictured: Spring Break relaxing on the beach (Fox News Digital)

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    Spring Break Miami. 23 Mar 2022 Pictured: Spring Break relaxing on the beach  (Fox News Digital)

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    Miami Beach, Florida: March 22, 2022  (Fox News Digital)

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    Miami Beach, Florida: March 22, 2022  (Fox News Digital)

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    Miami Beach, Florida: March 22, 2022  (Fox News Digital)

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    Miami Beach, Florida: March 22, 2022  (Fox News Digital)

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    Miami Beach, Florida: March 22, 2022  (Fox News Digital)

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    Springs breakers in Miami Beach Florida on Tuesday. City commissioners on Tuesday approved a curfew for this weekend that will go into effect at midnight Thursday and will last each night through March 28 in an effort to control large, unruly crowds. (Fox News Digital)

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    Miami Beach, Florida: March 22, 2022  (Fox News Digital)

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    Miami Beach, Florida: March 22, 2022  (Fox News Digital)

The plans, if enacted, could eventually result in the city’s rebranding and create an Art Deco Cultural District in South Beach, which already has a good amount of architecture from that historic era. And Gelber also noted that Miami Beach does not promote itself as a spring break destination.

“It just is such a desirable location that it attracts young people in March and times around March,” he said. “There are open, free spaces. It would be very hard for us to take all of South Beach and say it’s no longer open to the public. So really, the only options are to try to saturate with law enforcement, to try to counter-program with, perhaps, family friendly things.”

Until the proposed permanent solutions become reality, the curfew appears to be working by keeping visitors safe – at the cost of revenue for South Beach businesses. The first two nights went off without a hitch in stark contrast to the weekend earlier.

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    Miami Beach, Florida: March 22, 2022 (Fox News Digital)

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    Miami Beach, Florida: March 22, 2022 (Fox News Digital)

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    Miami Beach, Florida: March 22, 2022 (Fox News Digital)

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    Miami Beach, Florida: March 22, 2022 (Fox News Digital)

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    Miami Beach, Florida: March 22, 2022 (Fox News Digital)

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    Miami Beach, Florida: March 22, 2022 (Fox News Digital)

“Since I’ve been mayor, I’ve asked for and we have 40 more police in our department, almost all of them on patrol, and during [spring break season] we recruit officers from the county, from other departments, we pay for them, so it’s a pretty massive deployment of local law enforcement,” Gelber said. “But that’s always the best you can do, because it’s something organic, and finding a way to get rid of it short of a curfew has been very difficult.”

Despite the increased police presence, the two shootings that sparked the controversial curfew broke out just steps away from officers.

As for counter-programming, the idea is to schedule enough events to sell out hotel rooms for more mature visitors or vacationing families. 

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