Sunny Isles Beach

  • Miami-Dade County
  • Year Founded: Incorporated in 1997
  • Founded by: Sunny Isles Beach Charter Commission
  • Previously known as: Sunny Isles


In 1920, Harvey Baker Graves, a private investor from Rochester, New York, purchased a 2.26 square mile tract of land for development as a tourist resort. He began to look for investors to develop motels and beach clubs which would attract wealthy clientele.

The plan for development had several setbacks due to hurricanes and economic issues but eventually it began to blossom. After World War II the area became a vacation destination for families and international tourists looking to enjoy the sun and sea. Two story motels and larger resorts sprang up in the 1950′s with restaurants and clubs that were filled with entertainers and celebrities. The famous Castaway’s Hotel hosted several celebrity guests from Babe Ruth to the Beatles.

In the 1970′s a new kind of era began and condominiums for permanent residents were built on the barrier island area which had come to be known as Sunny Isles. As the demand for these year round residences increased many old motels began to be demolished and were replaced by luxury high-rise buildings. In the early 1990′s with an increased demand for beachfront housing the condo boom was in full swing.

As more luxury developments came on line, the infrastructure fo the area began to be stressed. Clearly the area needed more services than could be provided by the county and year round residents sought a government that could better represent their needs and move the city forward. The City of Sunny Isles Beach was incorporated in 1997. In the last 15 years the residents have seen crumbling motels come down and beautiful luxury high-rises go up. A free Community Shuttle Bus service is available and many parks have been built since the first one was dedicated in the year 2000. A community center provides recreation programs for residents on a year round basis and cultural events are plentiful.

Along with the boom of condominium development, new, sophisticated resorts were built where one and two story motels once sat. And the fine sand beaches, gourmet dining and luxury accommodations continued to attract visitors from around the world and Sunny Isles Beach held the distinction of the #1 Destination by Trip Advisor in 2008. Several awards have been bestowed on these innovative vacation properties and includes a beachfront 5-Diamond hotel.

The smart growth and development responsible for the renaissance of a small beachfront town to a world class city known as florida’s riviera, is attributed to the leaders of the community. These leaders were recognized by the Florida League of Cities in 2008 as finalists for Best City, Best Mayor and Best Commissioner. And their mission continues with the completion of parks and infrastructure, a nationally recognized police department, a low tax rate and high tax base as the housing market continues to thrive in Sunny Isles Beach.

As one of the youngest cities in Miami-Dade County, it has grown up quickly and exquisitely.

Story of City’s Founding

In the mid 1990’s a group of community activists decided that quality of life for their community could be improved by incorporating the area known as Sunny Isles into a city. The group had the backing of then County Commissioner Gwen Margolis. With the help of others who had been through the incorporation process an election was scheduled. The residents voted to incorporate the area into the City of Sunny Isles Beach. The official date of incorporation was June 16, 1997.

Little Known Facts

  • We are known as Sunny Isles Beach, florida’s riviera
  • Named #1 Destination by Trip Advisor in 2008

Historical Sites

Name: Egyptian Plaques
Location: Heritage Park, 19200 Collins Avenue
Historical Significance: Restored artifact from the Dunes Motel

Name: Pelican
Location: Pelican Community Park, 18115 North Bay Road
Historical Significance: Restored artifact from the Driftwood Motel

Name: Coral bridge
Location: Atlantic Isle
Historical Significance: Original bridge to island community

Name: Horse and Carriage
Location: Senator Gwen Margolis Park, 17815 North Bay Road
Historical Significance: Restored artifact from the Colonial Inn

Name: Newport Fishing Pier
Location: Pier Park, 16501 Collins Avenue, Sunny Isles Beach, FL 33160
Historical Significance: Only public fishing peir in Miami-Dade County

Key Historical Events

Event: Charter Commission formed
Event Description:

Senator Gwen Margolis appoints Charter Commission comprised of:
Robert J. Lilienfeld, C.P.A. (Chairperson), Roslyn Pitsch Brezin, Emmanuel Lassar, C.P.A., Judge Manuel Ramos, W. Donald Stewart, Lynn M. Dannheisser, Attorney.

Event: City Charter Adopted
Event Description:

Sunny Isles Beach is officially an incorporated city.

Event: First Commission Elected
Event Description:

David Samson, Irving Turetsky, Connie Morrow, Lila Kauffman, Danny Iglesias were elected as the first commission of the brand new city.

Event: First City Budget Adopted
Event Description:

First City Budget Adopted that includes Property Tax as City Revenue.

Event: Community Shuttle Service Begins
Event Description:

Free Community Shuttle begins service throughout the City. Residents can now travel to and from stores in the City’s air-conditioned buses.

Event: Sunny Serenade Concert Series is launched
Event Description:

First Sunny Serenade Series Concert is held at Samson Oceanfront Park. A beautiful oceanside venue for musical entertainment.

Event: City’s website is live
Event Description:

Special Preview of the City’s website is presented at Government Day.

Event: Incorporation Committee takes action
Event Description:

Citizens Irving Turetsky, David Samson, Norman S. Edelcup, Danny Iglesias and Irving Diamond met with Attorney Gene Sterns to start incorporation proceedings.

Event: Special Election of 16 proposed Charter amendments
Event Description:

After six years city officials are finding what is working and what is not working in their form of government. A special election is held for the residents to ratify revisions to the Charter.

Event: Holocaust Survivors Event held
Event Description:

City honors 300 Holocaust survivors residing in Sunny Isles Beach.

Photo gallery