MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – For the first time since May 2020, Ocean Drive in Miami Beach reopened to vehicle traffic on Monday morning.
That reopening was more eventful than anticipated as a fire had to be put out at the building where Hotel Ocean and an Italian restaurant are located on Ocean Drive and 12th Street. Fire rescue officials believe the fire started in a first-floor kitchen and spread through the exhaust system all the way to the roof.
Fire officials say the building was evacuated and nobody was injured. A hotel manager said hotel rooms were not damaged but there was some damage to the restaurant. Guests are being moved to two other hotels.
Ocean Drive had been closed to cars in May 2020 as a way to help restaurants recover from the COVID-19 pandemic by adding seating in the roadway to help maintain social distancing and increase outdoor seating options.
Traffic will now be allowed to travel one way southbound between 13th Street and 5th Street. There is also a two-way bike path painted in green on the east side, and the west side will be for valet and loading.
The closure had been well received by pedestrians, but hotel and business owners argued it prevented guests from accessing them.
“Really if you stay here, to bring your luggage around the corner is inconvenient, so I’m glad they opened it up, and for safety reasons also,” said Richard Kemp, who was visiting South Beach.
It’s a temporary plan as the city considers a new permanent vision for its entertainment district.