Argentine group buys 5th Miami Beach property for hotel group
By Marilyn Bowden
A group of investors hoping to develop a chain of boutique hotels has purchased the Leslie Hotel on Miami Beach's Ocean Drive for $4.3 million.
Pablo Umansky, a principal of the Urban Group, said last week's deal is the fifth property on Miami Beach for the investors, most of whom are from Argentina.
"We are trying to develop a strong presence," he said, "by focusing on service, price and, above all, location."
Urban Group also recently bought the Coronado Hotel at Bay Harbour Drive and 95th Street and the Henry Hotel on Washington Avenue between Fifth and Sixth streets, he said, as well as two condos on Collins Avenue at 65th and 75th streets that will be converted to boutique hotels.
Another Ocean Drive hotel is under contract, he said.
"Miami Beach is one of the better places to establish a hotel business," Dr. Umansky said. "In two or three years we hope to have a chain of 10 to 15 small, boutique hotels, all very well located. Then we can structure our own flagship."
Susan Gale, a longtime Wimbish Riteway associate specializing in Miami Beach who represented both sides in the deal, said the Leslie, at 1244 Ocean Drive, was formerly part of record producer Chris Blackwell's Island Outpost collection.
The three-story, 20,000-square-foot property, designed in 1937 by Albert Anis, is "a dramatic art deco architectural gem," she said. In addition to 43 hotel units it has an indoor restaurant-bar and an oceanfront cafe.
Dr. Umansky said Urban plans to reopen the Leslie almost immediately to take advantage of the season.
"We will run it as a mid- to high-end hotel," he said. "The market is very sensitive right now, and as we have more than one hotel we can afford to share expenses and lower our rates this season."