King of Diamonds Is Coming to South Beach and Residents Are Freaking Out

Update 5 p.m.: King of Diamonds says the club opening on Ocean Drive is not actually affiliated with their club. "The ownership of King of Diamonds has nothing to do with this South Beach club. They're still determining what to do," says Daniel Sands, an attorney representing KOD.  

There's been a war brewing on Ocean Drive for months now. On one side, residents and boutique hotel owners who argue that the iconic strip has devolved into a drunken, tacky mess. On the other, late-night restaurants and bars who say the strip is just catering to what tourists want.

Get ready for that fight to go nuclear. The weapon of mass destruction that's just entered the conflict is legendary strip club King of Diamonds, which is now planning some sort of establishment on Ocean Drive.

Mayor Philip Levine confirmed the KOD-to-SoBe rumors on Facebook this weekend, posting a letter from City Attorney Raul Aguila, who writes that "the city has received notification of an individual that has acquired the naming rights for the King of Diamonds and intends on opening some type of business establishment at 1330 Ocean Drive."

What type of establishment, though? The city's rules essentially ban new strip clubs in all of Miami Beach. Even Club Madonna, the lone holdover grandfathered in under the rules, has been entangled in long legal fights and has so far failed in its quest to serve alcohol.

Aguila also writes that whatever KOD opens at that Ocean Drive location, which is home to the Netherland Hotel, "adult entertainment establishments are not permitted at this premises." 

But that's hardly helped quell an upswing of outrage from nearby residents and businesses. Mitch Novick, the outspoken owner of the Sherbrooke Hotel, says he believes KOD would find a way around the rules.

"It's already a done deal. I know how this city works," he says. "They'll find a loophole, whether it's that they can't serve alcohol or that they'll have to wear nipple pasties, they'll find a way."

Angry emails have circulated around South Beach, with some business owners and residents planning to meet this evening to plan a campaign against the project.

"KOD is a huge concern for Miami Beach, its residents and its businesses," writes a resident named David Richards in one mass email. "I have been coming to Miami Beach for the last 25 years, own a condo and hoped to spend my retirement years here but not if KOD opens. KOD will change Miami Beach forever. I (and everyone I have talked to) sincerely believes that KOD needs to be STOPPED NOW."

For Novick, KOD's plans are just a symptom of the larger problems on Ocean Drive. A task force recommended a number of zoning and regulation changes earlier this year to clean up the area and Levine helped push for a ban on alcohol sales after 2 a.m. at sidewalk establishments. But Novick says nothing has changed. 

"This area is spiraling into slum and blight and our commissioners are naive," he says. "I believe this strip club is the catalyst that will either make these people get their act together or it will be the final straw."

As for KOD, it's not clear exactly what the club is planning for Ocean Drive. New Times left a message with the club, but we haven't heard back. We'll update this post if we do.