Palm Beach, FL- Home to many Billionaires including Donald Trump

Development in Palm Beach really got started with the completion of the Florida East Coast Railway  here in 1894. A hotel boom for the wealthy quickly ensued. Flager himself built a massive Beaux-Art Mansion in Palm Beach called Whitehall. The population of Palm Beach slowly grew reaching  just over 1,000 by 1910, 1,700 by 1930 and around 4,000 by 1940. On a sad note Palm beach used to host a couple thousand African Americans in the Styx section of town. They were forcibly evicted in 1912. Some other notable history includes JFK’s location of his Winter White House here at La Querida.  General Foods and Post Cereals heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post lived in the Mar-a-Largo estate (just south of Dwtn). This was sold to Donald Trump in 1985.

The area has remained a haven for the rich and those wintering here. Fortunately a rather attractive and walkable Dwtn with tons of shopping options developed around Worth Street and County Rd. To the north several other attractive biz districts were created (i.e. Main Street, Sunset Ave, and Country Rd). Royal Palm Way is the main entrance into Dwtn Palm Beach sitting at the end of Royal Palm Bridge, a boulevard lined with magnificent Royal Palms. But while Palm Beach tends to have good walkability it fails in many other important urban categories; public transit isn’t good, there is limited bike infrastructure, schools are limited, housing is very expensive, and there is limited diversity across all categories. Given the general desire for status quo among the wealthy, I doubt Palm Beach will improve in any measurable way in these areas. 

Click here to view my Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* ADA and sidewalk infrastructure is generally good but about 1/3 of intersections are without ADA curb cuts and some streets without sidewalks.
* Convenient access to Dwtn West Palm Beach being only 2 miles away, but transit frequency isn’t great. Not convenient access to Dwtn. Ft. Lauderdale nor Dwtn Miami across any form of transit.
* Very safe community.
* Great tree canopy.
* Decent park amenities with several nice beaches, a couple plazas dwtn, and a couple medium sized parks, and a nice bike trail along the intercoastal side.
* Good cultural amenities including many restaurants, cafes, and some bars. Also many art galleries and several good museums.
* Lots of shopping here: tons of boutiques, high end stores but also good # of medium end shopping that are locally owned and gift shops. There are also 3 bookstores, some dessert stores, plenty of homes good stores, plenty of banks, a Sakes 5th  a couple supermarkets, several drug stores, a public library, and a couple post offices.
* Generally both historic and modern in-fill is of a good quality with urban form. Some tacky modern architect and Country Rd can get auto centric in spots, especially north of Main St.
* Several nice biz districts with good shopping and urban form including Worth Ave, Country Rd, Sunset Ave, and Main Street.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Very low density similar to a suburb.
* public transit isn’t great.
* Only one dedicated bike lane along the inlet.
* Very limited economic diversity, racial and generational diversity. This is a very wealthy, white, and retiree community.
* One good public grade school in Dwtn Palm Beach but nothing else that’s walkable. Downtown West Palm Beach have some decent schools but this is across the inner coastal.
* Only a handful of churches, limited gyms, and no hospitals in Palm Beach.
* Housing is very expensive but some moderately priced small condos. Studios sell from anywhere btwn 200K-700K, 1 beds sell btwn 200K-900K, 2-bed condos sell btwn 400K 1.5M,  3 bed condos generally sell btwn 1M-5M, 3 & bed SF homes sell btwn 3M-10M , and 4 beds a bit more on average.
* Rentals seem even more expensive. Studios lease btwn 3K-5K, 1-beds 5K on average, 2-beds 10K on average and 3-beds 25+. Not much rental product. Also does not appear to be any dedicated affordable hsg here.

South Beach- Miami’s Urban and Architectural Gem

South Beach first started developing around the 1910s, due to the development of several founding fathers. It was the construction of the Collins Bridge in 1915 that really got the City’s development moving. Quickly the town of Miami Beach was incorporated in 1920, and a land boom ensued. This coincided well with the Art Deco styling of the 1930s and South Beach quickly saw the construction of hundreds of Art Deco hotels and apartment buildings. But in South Beach this styling took on the unique pastel color palette of South Florida. South Beach claims the world’s largest collection of Streamline Modern Art Deco architecture. By the 1950s South Beach was primarily a New York Jewish enclave and boasted a population of around 30K. Between the mid 60s and 80s South Beach slowly declined. Slowly drug traffic came into the City and accelerated the City’s decline. Fortunately a grouped of dedicated preservationist activist led by Barbara Baer Capitman saw organized to save the City’s Art Deco gems and managed to create several historic districts to preserve their future. This helped stabilize Miami Beach and elevate its popularity leading to significant investment into the City starting in the late 80s and early 90s. Lincoln Road (now a wonderful pedestrian mall) was also revitalized during this time period.

South Beach continued its revitalization through the 90s and 2000s and is now a national destination for cultural, nightlife, beaches, and architecture. But thanks to its great urban bones it’s also Miami’s best urban environment boasting good density, great walkability, several attractive business districts, and has retained a good amount of affordable and moderately housing thanks to the plethora of small condos and many affordable housing developments run by the local Housing Authority. Areas to improve for South Beach include the continued construction of more affordable housing options as prices continue to rise. There is also need for more schools, quality urban infill along the Alton and 5th Ave corridors, and more family friendly amenities.

Click here to view my South Beach Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Great Density at 20K per mile, but actually the 3rd most dense neighborhood in Miami.
* Good but not great access to Dwtn. The island really make a difference.
* Great bike infrastructure with plenty dedicated bike lanes and bike stations.
* Very diverse economically (somewhat surprisingly), and good racial diversity.
* Good number of affordable hsg in Miami Beach thanks to having their own Housing Authority.
* Lots of small and medium size parks providing residents with very convenient access to park amenities. Lummus Park and Flamingo are larger.
* Cultural amenities include tons of restaurants, bars, cafes, nightclubs, there are also several breweries, several movie theaters, a full cineplex, and performing art theaters. There are also lots of art galleries, several live music venues, and lots of museums. This is one of the best night life spots in America.
* Excellent historic architecture including 20s Mediterranean, Art Deco, and Art Modern.
* In-fill is generally a high quality except for a couple auto centric spots around Alton Rd.
* ADA curbs and infrastructure is generally good but a good # of older curbs without modern ADA standards.
* Urban massing is generally very good in the biz districts of Collins, the 16th Street (ped. street), Ocean Dr., Washington Street, and 5th St.. Alton is a mixed bag.
* Great retail amenities including 7-8 supermarkets, a target, numerous drug stores, a hardware store, a Macy’s, Marshall’s, all kinds of clothing stores, a decent # of boutiques, banks, tons of gyms and dessert joints, a couple bookstores, several home good stores, a couple post offices & public library, and several medical centers but no walkable hospital.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* 3-4 public schools generally well rate and a couple Hebrew schools.
* Rentals are expensive but more moderate than other parts of Miami. Studios lease in the mid 1Ks-low 2Ks, 1-beds in the 2Ks & 3Ks, most 2-beds are 2.5K-5K but plenty more expensive, 3-beds are most 10K+ but some in the 3-5K range.
* Hsg is pretty pricy but lots of inexpensive condos. Most studios sell btwn 100K-300K, 1-beds cons sell anywhere btwn 150K-600K, great variety in 2-beds condos btwn 200K-1M. Some luxury condos selling in the multi-millions. 3-beds most sell btwn 500K and the low 1Ms. Some btwn 300K-500K and plenty above 1.5M. 4 & 5 beds sell in the Millions.
* Generally safe but a good # of petty thefts.

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. 

Overtown- Miami’s Historic Black Neighborhood

The neighborhood was settled by African American railroad workers who completed the Florida East Coast Railroad in the late 19th century and choose to live just northwest of Dwtn Miami. Quickly the neighborhood became the historic African American heart of South Florida and was referred to as “Colored Town” until the mid-20th century. Overtown also hosted one of the premier entertainment and jazz districts of the early to mid 20th century along Northwest Second Avenue and was called the “Little Broadway” of the South. Overtown experienced serious economic decline starting in the 1950s thanks to aggressive highway construction, urban renewal, and community fragmentation. The neighborhood used to host close to 50,000 residents but now is just 10,000 residents call Overtown home. Amazing how dense and vibrant this neighborhood used to be.

Yet there is still hope for Overtown. As Miami’s housing market has exploded more and more people are willing to purchase homes on Overtown’s more stable streets. With great public transit, okay walkability, cheaper housing, some cultural amenities of its own, and convenient access to Dwtn this makes a lot of some. There is also new multi-family and mixed-use development in the SE edge adjacent to Dwtn and perhaps Wynwood development will finally reach Overtown’s northern edge. Hopefully this positive momentum continues but there is so much blight and disinvestment to reclaim.

Click here to view my album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Great access to dwtn and excellent public transit access.
* Good amount of dedicated affordable housing.
* Some 1-bed condos selling in the 100Ks & 200Ks, 2-beds condos sell btwn 200K-500K, great array of prices for 3 & 4 beds ranging from 200K-1M depending on size and condition.
* Good dispersal of small and medium sized parks across the district.
* Overtown has decent cultural amenities with a fair # of restaurants, a handful bars & cafes, 1 art gallery, a community theater, the Historic Lyric Theater and good access to the cultural amenities of Dwtn & Wynwood.
* Newer MF and mixed-use infill is pretty good. But plenty of mid-century and auto centric crud.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* The many freeways and urban renewal developments has really broken up the neighborhood connectivity.
* Ok bike lane infrastructure but not dedicated bike stations here.
* Still a very impoverished neighborhood with 40% poverty, Medium household income is 32K.
* Good array of walkable schools but generally not rated well. Several schools in adjacent neighborhoods are rated better.
* Rental hsg is affordable for Miami standards but more and more newer product at high price points is being built. 1-beds lease btwn 1-2K, 2-beds anywhere btwn 1.5-3K depending on condition. Some 3-beds leasing in the 3Ks & 4Ks. Decent but not a great amount of product.
* Overtown seems to still have pretty high levels of crime even though it’s much less than it ushed to be. While development and renovations have occurred, esp. recently, plenty of blighted and vacant blocks.
* Because of this Overtown still has a perception issue.
* Some pedestrian activity along 1st St and the new development in the SE corner, but overall its pretty limited.
* Most of the quality historic architecture has been torn down. Some decent SF homes remain (esp. in the Spring Garden sub-district) and some interesting mid century apts.
* Retail amenities are limited to two full service supermarkets here and several small grocerias, a pharmacy, local public library and post office, a handful of barbers, plenty of churches, and Jackson Memorial Hospital is in the NE corner. Very limited retail west of I-95 and still many convenient stores.
* With the neighborhood so bombed out with lots of urban renewal in-fill not get urban cohesion and form. Newer in-fill in the SE corner is certainly an improvement.

Brickell- Miami’s “Manhattan of the South”

Local promoters like to call Brickell the Manhattan of the South. Not sure I agree with this nomenclative but it certainly is one of the most dense and urban districts in the south. Brickell is between the Miami River and 913 and I-95 and the bay. Brickell Key is also park of the Brickell district.

Brickell was settled in the modern era in the mid-19th century by early pioneers and became Miami’s “Millionaire’s Row” in the early 20th century with the construction of lavish mansions along Brickell Avenue. By the 1970s, office towers, hotels and apartments began replacing the historic mansions. Brickell overtook the City’s historic CBD to the north, as one of the largest financial districts in US. The southern half of Brickell (aka South Brickell) below 15th SE Street remains as low density mansions but with residential towers along the bay.

Brickell is Miami’s most dense district and best urban neighborhood. The northern half of the district offers a 5-10 minute walkable neighborhood with convenient access to many jobs. There is still very high economic diversity here, good array of well rated schools, high levels of safety, along with 4 full service supermarkets and a busy Downtown mall. The main reason I didn’t give Brickell a higher score is the lower density and lack of mixed-use in South Brickell and the fact that Brickell Key is a gated community. Brickell also has increasing affordability issues and could use more park and recreation space. But I do believe as developers build out the underdeveloped western edge of the district and South Brickell that the neighborhood will continue to improve from an urban perspective. And perhaps one day be worthy of the title “the Manhattan of the South”.

Click here to view my Downtown Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Great urban density. Probably most dense neighborhood in Miami.
* Very good ADA infrastructure and sidewalks.
* The northern half of Brickell is within Dwtn so great access.
* Also some of the best public transit in Miami is here.
* Great bike infrastructure with several bike lanes and many bike stations.
* High economic diversity and decent racial and family diversity.
* Decent # of well rated schools and all are fairly walkable.
* Good cultural amenities with plenty of restaurants, bars, cafes, many art galleries, tons of night clubs, some music venues, a full cineplex,  a community theater, and a handful of museums. Also walkable access to all the cultural amenities just north in Dwtn.
* Great retail amenities with 4 supermarkets, plenty of drug stores, Brickell City Centre Mall which has a wide array of retail shops and restaurants, a Sakes 5th Department Store, plenty of boutiques, a bookstore, lots of bakeries and dessert shops, lots of gyms, a local box office, and plenty of banks and churches.
* This is a very safe district but all measures. As it is part of dwtn there is certainly some normal riff raff.
* The northern half is very vibrant with tons of pedestrian. The southern half is pretty sleep. Some with Mixed-Use areas.
* Modern in-fill is generally good urban form and decent architectural quality.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* No major hospital nearby but plenty of medical offices.
* Some nice historic mansions along Miami Street south of SW 15th but the rest of Brickell is very modern.
* Good but not amazing parks. Waterfront promenade is only present around Brickell Key. Other park space include Southside Park, Simpson Park, Brickell Park, and the Underline park beneath the elevate rail line.
* Some underutilized land along Brickell’s western edges. This should fill in soon though as the district gets built up.
* For sale Hsg is definitively expensive but lots moderately priced condos. Studios sell anywhere between 150K-500, 1-beds 250K-700K, 2-beds 250K to the low Millions, 3-beds  400K to 2 M, and most 4-bed product sells in the Millions.
* Rentals are very expensive. Studios lease in the 2 & 3Ks, 1-beds mostly 2Ks & 3ks but some rentals in the 4Ks & 5Ks. 2-beds 3-7K, 3-beds are 5K+.
* Brickell Key is a gated island with limited connectivity and exclusiveness.

Coral Way- A decent urban Miami neighborhood linking Coral Gables to Downtown

Coral Way is a neighborhood in Southwest Miami built around Coral Way, a road established by Coral Gables founder George E. Merrick in the 1920s.  Some of the oldest sections of the neighborhood contain a mixture of Mission Revival Style and Bungalow homes, some Art Deco but also a lot more simple post-World War II dwellings. Coral Way is a historic urban boulevard lined with large Banyan trees creating one of the most beautiful corridors in South Florida. It also links Dwtn Miami to Coral Gables.

From an urban perspective Coral Way does well with moderate density, great access to dwtn accompanied with decent public transit, a solid set of restaurants & bars, lots of brand name retail in Miracles Marketplace mall, quality schools, great economic diversity, and a wide range of housing options, much more affordable than other inner-city Miami districts. But there are many areas of urban improvement for Coral Way as bike and park amenities are limited, few residents walk, much of the commercial along Coral Way is auto centric, and there is limited dedicated affordable housing. But Coral Way has good urban bones and infrastructure and could easily become a very successful urban district if its growth is directed towards creating quality mixed-use environments along Coral Way and other parts of the neighborhood.

Click here to view my Coral Way album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Great access to dwtn with decent public transit access.
* Culturally diverse array of restaurants (Coral Way and Calle 8), good # of bars, Cafes. Some art galleries, some night clubs along Calle 8, no museums really.
* Good retail amenities but often in auto centric settings. There are 2 full service supermarkets, several drug stores. Miracle Marketplace (mini mall) includes Marshalls, Nordstrom, and many brand name retails. There is also a Sears, Hardware store, an office depot, big lots, plenty of salons & barbershops, post office, public library, plenty of churches, and Coral Gables & Miami Children’s neighborhood’s edges.
* Excellent economic diversity and decent family diversity.
* Good array of schools and generally well rated. Could use some more high schools though.
* Good mix of for sale options. 1-bed condos and SF homes sell btwn 150K-400K, 2-beds 200K-700K depending on size and quality. 3 & 4 beds 300K- 1M.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Bike infrastructure is limited to one dedicated bike lane and one bike station.
* Very Hispanic dominated population near 80% but more diverse than neighboring Little East Havana.
* Park amenities limited to a couple small to medium parks. Maybe 3? Throughout a very large neighborhood.
* Generally a very safe district. The SW residential corner is a bit gritty but not terrible.
* Pedestrian activity is limited even though there is pretty good sidewalk infrastructure.
* Mix of attractive 30 & 40s homes and bland mid century design. Better homes in the center and east of Coral Way.
* About 1/2 of the urban commer is oriented on the street but most of it is bland.
* Urban form on Coral Way is a mixed bag. So is Calle Ocho. Dixie Hwy is very autocentric.
* Retail is pretty concentrated along Coral Way and Calle Ocho.
* Rentals are more expensive but cheaper than surrounding Miami neighborhoods. 1-beds lease btwn the mid 1K and mid 2Ks, 2-beds rent in the 2ks & 3ks, and 3-beds 3K-7K.
* Not much dedicated affordable hsg.

Miami’s Little Havana

 Originally a lower-middle-class Southern and thriving Jewish neighborhood in the 1930s, Little Havana emerged in the 1960s as the concentration of Cubans in the area grew sharply due to large numbers of immigrants fleeing Castro’s regime. Arriving residents expected their stay in Miami would be temporary, but this obviously was not the case and by 1970, the neighborhood was more than 85% Cuban.  While the pct of Hispanics here is still around 85%, it is much more diverse as Little Havana welcomes many newly arrived immigrants from Central and South America.

From an urban perspective East Little Havana does well as one of Miami’s most dense neighborhoods, has great access to Dwtn with quality public transit, lots of Hispanic cultural activity along with a decent night life, and some of the most affordable housing so close to Dwtn. It also has many well rated walkable schools and safety has improved significantly over the past couple of decades.

But there is still a lot of grit and underinvestment here and many auto centric/bland commercial stretches. Nice urban stretch along Calle 8 between 17th and 13th St and some good stretches along Flager St. Park and bike amenities are also limited along with economic and racial diversity. I anticipate with the real estate pressures in Miami that East Little Havana will continue to revitalize and create better urban in-fill. As long as the % of preserved affordable housing remains high and residents are given opportunities for home ownership, I welcome this change.

Click here to view my Little Havana album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Great Density with 27K people per square mile.
* Generally very good ADA infrastructure and curb cuts throughout.
* Great access to downtown along with solid transit access.
* Excellent connectivity with a very consistant grid across the neighborhood.
* Good # of walkable schools and generally well rated.
* For sale housing is very affordable for Miami Standards. Lots of 1-beds selling  btwn 100K-300K, 2-beds sell anywhere btwn 100K-600K depending on size & condition, Nice 3 & 4 beds SF homes selling btwn 300K-500K generally.
* Rental prices are pretty expensive compared to for-sale prices in Little Havana but modest compared to most of Miami. Most 1-beds leasing in the 1Ks with some luxury product leasing in the 2Ks, 2-beds lease btwn 1.5K-3.4K depending on size and condition. Some 3-bed options lease btwn 2K-5K.
* Little Havana has thousands of dedicated afford. hsg units.
* Cultural amenities include a great array of Hispanic restaurants, a decent # of bars, several night clubs & art galleries, a handful of community theaters, an indie theater, and a couple of local museums. There are very concentrated along Calle Oche.
* Decent retail amenities including one supermarket and plenty of grocerias, several drug stores and banks, several boutiques & gift shops along Calle 8, lots of discount stores, several gyms, and tons of dessert places. There is also a local library, plenty of churches, and lots of medical centers (but no major hospital). 

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Bike infrastructure is so  with along one dedicated bike lane and a couple  of dedicated bike stations.
* Large majority Hispanic population of around 87%.
* Not great economic diversity as 28% of population is in poverty and the rest of the population is pretty working class.
* Little Havana is far less dangerous today than in its past but still higher crime than other parts of Miami.
* Tree canopy is decent but below average for Miami.
* Park amenities are limited to a handful of small and medium sized parks. Very lacking for this size of a neighborhood.
* Some nice art deco apartments sprinkled throughout (esp. along the easter edge) and nice historic commercial retail along Calle 8 but most historic and mid-century architecture is gritty and bland.
* Some newer multi-family developments have popped up throughout Little Havana and decent in-fill bldgs along Calle 8. But much of the newer structures are auto centric are pretty bland.
* Decent urban form along Calle 8 for 4 blocks and spots of Flagler but much of the biz district are autocentric.

Coconut Grove- Hosts Miami’s best Neighborhood Business District

Coconut Grove, also known as the Grove, is the oldest continuously inhabited neighborhood of Miami. The first hotel on the South Florida mainland was built here in 1882 called the  Bay View Inn Hotel and is located at  present-day Peacock Park. Coconut Grove was annexed into Miami in 1925.  In the 1960s, Coconut Grove served as the center of South Florida’s youth countercultural movement. The Village Center, three blocks radiating from the intersection of Main, McFarland, and Grand Avenues, is home to the majority of Coconut Grove retail and restaurant businesses. Like the rest of the neighborhood, this appears to have always been a pretty stable area. Coconut Grove experienced significant growth in the 1970s & 1980s with the construction of many new office and residential towers just east of the Village Center near the waterfront. 

Urban areas where coconut could improve upon include better sidewalk and ADA infrastructure. There are few residential streets with curb cuts. This is also need for better public transit in SW Coconut Grove, affordable housing, and more retail amenities outside of the Central Village Center. Residents living in NE and SW Coconut Grove cannot walk to most Coconut Grove amenities.

Click here to view my Coconut Grove Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Great racial diversity. Also decent economic and generational diversity too.
* Good access to Dwtn and decent public transit access.
* This is a very safe part of Miami.
* Very well rated schools, esp. private schools. Public school are good too but not a ton of them. Given how large the district is, schools are not always highly walkable to residents.
* Some affordable housing in Coconut Grove.
* Good array of parks type pretty well spread throughout the neighborhood.
* Excellent tree canopy.
* Culturally an excellent array of restaurants, bars, and cafes but all concentrated in the business district at Grand & McFarlane Rd. Decent # of museums and art galleries better spread through Coconut Grove. Also a cineplex and community theater here.
* Good array of retail options but the walkable ones are again concentrated at Grand & McFarlane. These include: many boutiques, clothing stores, a bookstore, several banks, desserts shops, gyms, and drug stores, a local post office, and many churches. the Mercy Hospital complex is also located here. Coconut Grove also hosts several supermarkets, many grocerias, a home depot but often in more auto centric locations.
* Pretty good modern in-fill. Some of it is bland and auto centric.
* Good amount of Office space in central Coconut Grove.
* Great urban form and streetscaping at Grand and McFarlane, decent form in the office area east of here. Grand St going west looses its form gradually with many vacant lots mixed in.  27th St is pretty auto centric. 

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Density isn’t great.
* ADA and sidewalk infrastructure not the greatest in Coconut Grove. Its great in the biz district but about 40% of residential streets have no sidewalks (esp. SW Coconut Grove), and over half have no curb cuts. Obviously ADA compliant curbs are rare.
* Good access to Dwtn and decent public transit (except in the SW Coconut Grove area).  Decent dedicated bike infrastructure.
* Due to a good number of gated communities and many dead end streets Coconut Grive doesn’t have the best connectivity.
* Rentals are rather expensive with studios and 1 beds leasing btwn 1.5K and the low 3Ks, most 2-beds btwn 2K-4K although some product leasing for even more, and 3 beds for 4K+
* For sale product is also expensive but plenty of affordable/moderately priced studios and 1-beds condos selling btwn 200K-500K, wide variety of price with 2-beds with a decent # of condos and SF selling btwn 250K-500K but plenty selling btwn 500K-1.5M, similar situation with 3 & 4  beds but even more expensive.
* Commercial uses are pretty concentrated to central Coconut Grove. Residents living in NE and SW Coconut Grove cannot walk to many retail amenities.
* Some nice historic mansions but most older architecture is blander mid-century design.
* Great pedestrian activity at Grand & McFarlane. Pretty limited outside of here.

The Miami Design District and the Buena Vista East Historic District

In this evaluation I included the Design District and Buena Vista East Historic District. This includes the area between I-195 to 48th Street and Miami Avenue to the railroad tracks.

In the 1890s, Buena Vista was a small village with many pineapple farms whose founding and growth paralleled Miami’s. During the Land Boom of the 1920s, the area was developed. Like most inner -city Miami the area fell into hard times during the 70s & 80s. Formally the Miami Design was a subdistrict for furniture and interior designers to showcase their work and was mostly a warehouse area. Miami native Craig Robins recognized the potential of the Miami Design District, and started acquiring buildings. His goal was to transform a forgotten part of Miami into a unique creative community through exceptional architecture, design and experiences.  Redevelopment began in the early 2000s. Throughout the 2000s, major public and private investments went into the Design District and by the 2010s high-end brands moved in. The district is now also home to many high end restaurants, cafes. bars, night clubs, the Institute of Contemporary Art and many art galleries. Its amazing how quickly this transformation was realized and achieved such a quality sense of place,

The Buena Vista East Historic District north to 48th street has benefited from the Design District’s revitalization with homes now selling btwn 500K-1M. Urban form has also improved along 2nd Ave. Sadly Miami Ave is still a very auto centric and a desolate Avenue. The main lack here is affordable housing. Even before the pandemic, rentals were severely limited but post pandemic single family home prices jumped 50-75% and now homes start at 500K. There is also a lack of recreational space, density needs to be improved (aka allowing residential within the design district), and some crucial neighborhood amenities are missing.

Click here to view my Flickr album on the Miami Design District

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Overall very good ADA infrastructure, except for several blocks on the east edge that don’t have sidewalks.
* Great access to dwtn, good connectivity, and solid public transit access.
* A pair of north-south dedicated bike lanes but only one dedicated bike station.
* Great economic and racial diversity. Also solid generational diversity here with a high pct of family households.
* Decent schools amenities include a couple well rates high schools and elementary schools.
* Strong dense of place in the Design District. So  in the Buena Vista Historic District.
* Good historic architecture in the Buena Vista East Historic District. Even better modern in-fill especially in the Design District.
* Great urban form within the Design District (esp. with all the pedestrian walkways), decent urban form along 2nd Ave, poor urban form along Miami Ave.
* Cultural amenities include lots of restaurants, bars, & cafes, plenty of art galleries and art museums (including the Institute of Contemporary Art), a handful of night clubs, and a community theater.
* Tons of clothing and home good retail options in the Design District but very high end. More down to earther retail include plenty of dessert joints & bakeries, several gyms, a bookstore, a publixs, a couple drug stores,  local hospital, and still walkable access to the shops at Midtown Miami.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Density is so so.
* Some nice plazas and pedestrians streets in the Design District but not much else parkwide here.
* No community library or post office. Limited # of churches and banks.
* For sale housing is expensive and limited 2-bedrooms (sell btwn 500K-900K. No 1 bed condos available. 3 & 4 beds sell anywhere btwn 500K to the low 1Ms. Princes appear to have increase 50%-75% from pre-pandemic to post.
* Rentals (except whole house rentals) appear to have been zoned out of existence here. Only whose homes seem to rent and they are very expensive.

Wynwood- Miami’s Ultimate Art District

Wynwood historically was known as Little San Juan or El Barrio, because of its historically large Puerto Rican population. Wynwood has recently come into the national consciousness due to the spectacular amount of mural and graffiti art located between Miami and 5th Avenue and 21st & 29th streets. This has only been a “thing” since 2009 when a local developer used art murals as a way to help revitalize the neighborhood. Apparently the murals are mostly replaced after only a couple years of standing. Wynwood walls (now an outdoor art gallery) was where this also started). Taking advantage of this buzz there is now a plethora of food & beverage options, nightlife, museums, and new development rising up in Wynwood. Along the district’s northern edge is the extensive lifestyle center of Shops at Midtown Mall. There is also the Wynwood Technology District, home to various technology based companies and the co-working space, LAB Miami.

Wynwood has certainly improved from an urban standpoint since 2010. But there is still room for much improvement as many vacant and underutilized land remains, lack of bike lane infrastructure, limited park amenities, and generally expensive housing. Wynwood also lacks a real center, something that could be rectified with a new centrally located urban plaza.

Click here to view my Wynwood Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

  • Overall ADA infrastructure is quite good in Wynwood.
  • Very good access to dwtn via all modes of transit.
  • Decent diversity esp. family diversity.
  • Culturally a wonderful array of art galleries, restaurants, bars, cafes, lots of interesting modern and pop art museums, plenty of night clubs, a couple of community theaters, and a wonderful array of art murals on countless buildings in the neighborhood.
  • Very good retail amenities too including two full sized supermarkets, many small grocerias, a couple drug stores, a target, a Marshall’s, a Nordstrom Rack, a Dick’s and several other brand name retailers at the Shops at Midtown Mall. There are also lots of boutiques, creative stores, lots of salons, tons of desserts shops & gyms, and a local post office.
  • Good array of walkable schools but some public options are rated poorly.
  • Lots of hype and buzz in Wynwood now on a national level.
  • Great urban in-fill with good form and often mixed-use.
  • Very good mix of uses throughout the district.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Limited bike lanes throughout but good array of dedicated bike stations.
* A decent amount of rental product but expensive. Studios lease in the mid to high 2Ks, 1 beds rent btwn 2K-3Ks. 2-bed product leases btwn 2-4K. 3-beds 4-6K. Some affordable hsg in Wynwood but not a ton.
* For sale options tend expensive but not too bad. Studios and 1-beds condos sell btwn 250K-500K, 2-beds generally sell btwn 350K-800K, 3 & 4 beds are generally SF homes selling btwn 350K-650K.
* Park amenities are limited to a handful of medium sized parks.
* Still some dodgy areas but Wynwood is generally pretty safe.
* Some decent but plain mid-century architecture with the basic commer. bldgs and historic homes in the NW section of the district. But much of the historic fabric has been wiped away..
* No real center in Wynwood. There are two development clusters: Midtown Mall Mixed-use Lifestyle node and the mural art and retail node in the center of the district.
* Urban form is generally good where bldgs stand (esp. the newer infill) but plenty of surface parking and vacant lots that disrupt the urban continuity of the neighborhood. This fortunately will get better as things fill in.