Coral Gables, FL- a Planned City Beautiful Inner Ring Suburb with a Spanish Revival Flair

Coral Gables was a planned community of the 1920s helping it to become a stand out inner ring suburb. Its planning was based on the popular City Beautiful Movement but with a strong Mediterranean/Spanish Revival flair. Its founder George Merrick also established very strict zoning regulations separating business districts from residential. Fortunately this still kinda worked as the business districts were established before WWII and were built with good urban form.  In 1925, the University of Miami was constructed. Coral Gables has also placed a high priority on historic preservation. The City passed its first preservation ordinance in 1973 and many subsequent districts have been passed. While Coral Gable’s strict zoning and historic preservation laws have helped it maintained a particular character it has also led to a lack of affordable housing as prices have sky rocketed. These restrictions have created a pretty exclusionary City.

Fortunately Downtown Coral Gables has permitted a mixed-use Dwtn helping to foster many moderately priced condos. There is also a good concentration of office towers Dwtn and the City as a whole hosts 11K jobs, a good # for a bedroom community. Coral Gables also excels with excel retail & cultural amenities, high quality schools, safety, excellent tree canopy, and good access to Dwtn. Other than affordability the City could improve with better ADA & bike infrastructure, more park amenities, and more quality urban in-fill replacing the many auto centric spots in the City.

Click here to view my Coral Gables Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Streets can be pretty curvilinear but consistent connectivity.
* Excellent generational diversity with 60% of households as families and a large university located here. Decent racial diversity but still a mostly Hispanic community.
* A very safe community.
* Excellent Tree Canopy.
* Very well rated schools and generally walkable, but certainly some distance for some residents to schools.
* Culturally a good number of restaurants, bars, cafes, art galleries, especially in Dwtn Coral Gables but also around Miami University, South Miami, and Merrick Mall area. Decent # of local museums, cultural amenities of the University of Miami. Also a couple of cinemas, and several community theaters.
* Solid retail amenities here include about 8 supermarkets, a target, several drug stores, a Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus Dept stores, lots of retail chains esp. at the thriving Merrick Mall. More boutiques and unique clothing stores at Miracle Mile. 2 Barnes & Nobles and several other book stores, a hardware store, plenty of home good stores, dessert shops/bakeries, salons, barbers, and gyms. Public Library & Post Office are Dwtn. Plenty of churches and 2 hospitals.
* While modern in-fill can be tacky there its generally good urban in-fill form in Coral Gables. Some areas are pretty auto-centric but Dwtn is great.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Overall not great density, although good density around Dwtn Coral Gables.
* ADA infrastructure and sidewalks are pretty hit or miss. About 25% of Coral Gables has no sidewalks and 50% doesn’t have modern ADA curb cuts. But still pretty good walkability overall.
* A handful of short dedicated bike lanes but not dedicated bike stations. The City does have dockless electric scooters however.
* Limited income diversity.
* Park amenities are surprisingly limited here to several small-medium sized parks, a tennis court, outdoor pool and many country clubs (not available to most residents). I guess everyone has good backyards. There is also a nice pedestrian street/plaza space dwtn.
*For sale housing is pretty expensive but good array of more moderately priced condos. Studios & 1 beds sell btwn 150K-400K, 2-bed condos generally btwn 250K-700K but some more expensive, 2 bed SF homes sell btwn 400K- low 1 Ms, 3-beds sell btwn 700K to about 2 M, and 4 beds can reach 3 M.
* Rentals are even pricier. 1-beds lease btwn high 1Ks to 4K, 2-beds 3K-6K, 3-beds 3.5K-8K,  Really no dedicated afford hsg. in Coral Gables. 

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