Architecture & Design

Vagabond Motel to Open During Art Basel, Host Exhibits

Of the retro-looking motels that line the strip of Biscayne Boulevard between 54th and 79th Streets, the Vagabond Motel is the most impressive. Or, rather, it was; in recent years, the property was better known for its graffiti'd up walls than for being, as Curbed Miami described it, "the most iconic of Biscayne Boulevard's triply midcentury modern hotels."

But if developer Avra Jain has her way, the Vagabond will be restored to its former glory soon -- before the end of 2013, in fact. According to Miami Urbanist, the Vagabond plans to open during Art Basel, hosting exhibits in its guestrooms before officially opening them to rent in 2014.

Details about the art are scarce; there'll be a "swank party" and Baseltime exhibition in which the motel's guestrooms will be taken over, one artist per soon-to-be tourist living space.

Details of the renovation, on the other hand, are plenty exciting. Two detailed mosaic tiles that once lined the swimming pool, for example, are being restored. The dolphin mosaic will use original tiles, while the mermaid mosaic is too damaged to be saved; an artist will recreate it using new materials. (If only restoration efforts had begun sooner; Curbed pointed out that the mermaid mosaic was in "surprisingly good condition" in February of this year.)

There's also a restaurant going in, described as a "seafood-style diner" by Urbanist. Renderings of the construction indicate the restaurant will take the place of the building's lobby, and include a sunken bar. A line of tall landscaping will separate the pool area from the busy and often noisy Biscayne strip.

And no, the exterior fountain featuring three naked ladies in a seashell isn't going anywhere.

Urbanist reports that construction crews are working six days per week to have the site ready by the first week of December. "You'll be sipping poolside martinis at the Vagabond Motel during Art Basel," the site predicts.

Follow Ciara LaVelle on Twitter @ciaralavelle.

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Ciara LaVelle is New Times' former arts and culture editor. She earned her BS in journalism at Boston University and moved to Florida in 2004. She joined New Times' staff in 2011.
Contact: Ciara LaVelle