Bath Club Is Bigoted No More

A private beach club that excluded blacks, Jews, and Hispanics for decades is being purchased by one of its first black members.

The Bath Club, an oceanfront enclave in Miami Beach, will be sold to developer R. Donahue Peebles, who joined the club in 1996.

"That the proposed sale to an African-American businessman is an ordinary business deal says much about the distance the club has traveled from its regrettable past," said Arthur Teitelbaum, Southern area director of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, a Jewish advocacy group. "I suppose the club's founders may be stirring in their heavenly sleep."

The club's 100 voting members decided it could not survive financially without finding a buyer. An "overwhelming" majority voted Saturday to sell the club's 5.3 acres, club president James Hellman said.

The purchase price was not disclosed, but The Miami Herald quoted sources as saying it was about $9 million.

Peebles, who already plans to build the first black-owned hotel in Miami Beach, said he wants to construct a 300- to 400-room resort hotel around the 1927 vintage club.