By George “Bud” Scholl, Mayor
(Monday, May 29, 2017) – Happy Anniversary! June 16th marks the 20th anniversary of our City! When we think of Sunny Isles Beach, what comes to mind is the miles of beautiful beaches, the architecture, the parks and the incomparable weather. Communities evolve because of the vision, dedication and persistence from people that build them. Sometimes their contributions are honored with a naming, such as Samson Park after our founding Mayor. But more often time passes and memory of these key contributors fade.
The history of our City started with the vision of Harvey Baker Graves in 1920, when he purchased and commenced development of Sunny Isles. After the hurricane of 1926, development languished until 1936 when Kurtis Froedtert from Milwaukee bought Sunny Isles. The next springboard occurred in 1948 when the first two story motel the Ocean Palm, was built. The most influential architect in Sunny Isles at that time was Norman Giller, who after designing the Ocean Palm for the Gingold family, also designed other themed motels during the 50’s and 60’s. Norman Giller’s creative architecture put Sunny Isles on the map as motel row, the alternative destination to Miami Beach.
A new generation of investors then took on Sunny Isles in the 80s and 90s as the Milton and Dezer families bought various parcels for residential redevelopment. Raanan Katz purchased the majority of retail shopping centers in the city. While these investors recognized the potential of the area, others were pushing forward with the formation of Sunny Isles Beach. Dave Samson, our first Mayor led an incorporation effort resulting in the election of a founding City Commission: Danny Iglesias, Lila Kauffman, Connie Morrow and Irving Turetsky. Police Chief Fred Maas, City Manager Chris Russo and former City Attorney Lynn Dannheisser all served during these critical early years and are all still involved in our community today. More developers, such as the Grosskopf family, Jules and Stephanie Trump and the Defortuna organization contributed to our growth with substantial investments and magnificent buildings.
Our second Mayor, Norman Edelcup, worked with community leaders such as Bob Welsh, pushing for our community school, now named after our former mayor. There are many more community leaders, elected officials and other individuals that have contributed to the community that we have today and we honor them all on our 20th anniversary. After all, without the collective efforts of visionaries, investors, community leaders and residents, Sunny Isles would never have become the community Harvey Baker Graves envisioned nearly 100 years ago!
In honor of our 20th Anniversary, view our online History Timeline at www.sibfl.net/history.