Kitschy, cool Vagabond Motel coming back to life on Biscayne Boulevard’s MiMo district
BY ANDRES VIGLUCCI
After years in a sad limbo behind a construction fence, the sirens and porpoises at the marvelously waggish Vagabond Motel are looking decidedly chipper under a fresh coat of paint. The re-plumbed fountain will soon come back to life along with the rest of the iconic but long-dormant motel, which has come to symbolize the fortunes of the fledgling Miami Modern historic district on Biscayne Boulevard.
The reopening of the fully restored 1953 MiMo landmark, set for Dec. 5, could mark a significant milestone in the slowly gathering revival of the boulevard along the city’s Upper East Side.
The Vagabond’s newest owner, developer Avra Jain, is buying four more of the dozen or so historic but rundown MiMo motels that define the district. She has ambitious plans to turn them into a collection of boutique hostelries and dining and lounging spots for locals and visitors looking for distinctive, affordable alternatives to South Beach.
“The boulevard is at the tipping point,’’ Jain said as she led a tour of the bustling, still-unfinished Vagabond restoration. “The demand is there. This isn’t contrived. If you change the motels on the boulevard, you change everything.’’