Downtown Miami, FL

I included within my Downtown Miami evaluation anywhere between SE 15 and NE 15th Roads,1-95/NW 1st Ave to the west and the water to the east. This includes half of the Bricknell District.

Downtown Miami is the historic heart of Miami. Along with Coconut Grove, it is the oldest settled area of Miami, with early pioneer settlements dating to the early 19th century. But development really didn’t get started until the extension of the Flagler railroad in 1896.  Not surprisingly, there are only a handful of antique skyscrapers here and a small area remaining (btwn 1st SE and 2nd St NE) of concentrated historic structures. But Downtown Miami is in a boom cycle becoming the fast-growing area by population in the Miami area. This has particularly occurred in Bricknell, Miami’s densest and most complete urban district. Other housing concentrations are along the bay and in the Town Square sub district. Miami is one of the densest downtowns in America. Downtown also hosts a very high # of families for a Dwtn neighborhood certainly helped by having excellent schools and quality parks.

Downtown Miami is on the cusp of becoming an elite American Downtown. The area where it needs to improve the most is the filling in of vacant lots and surface parking lots north of the Miami River with in-fill. Miami could also improve pedestrian connections across the Miami River, clean up its sketchy spots, plant more trees, and provide more affordable rental housing. 

Click here to view my Downtown Miami Album on Flickr


* Great downtown density with around 22K per sq mile living here.
* Miami has very good public transit within the City and that service is generally at least decent in the suburbs northwards to Pompano Beach. North of here and south of South Miami is when quality public transit starts to peter off.
Dwtn transit score of 9.7. Miami City score of 8.5. Good transit in most suburbs up to Pompano Beach. So  north of here and so  south of Miami.
* Ok bike lanes within the City of Miami. More dedicated lanes outside of the City. Pretty good dedicated bike station system covering Dwtn + Miami neighborhoods along the bay + Miami beach.
* Great economic diversity and generational diversity. About 25% of all downtown households are households w/ children (very high for dwtns). Good racial diversity too.
* Excellent array of quality schools dwtn and not just private and charter schools but several well rated public schools.
* For Sale are generally expensive but tons of moderately priced product. studios sell anywhere btwn 150K-450K, 1-beds are very diverse in price ranging from 175K-1M and some even more expensive; similar situation with 2-beds with prices ranging anywhere from 200K- 2M ; lots of 3-bed product. Prices generally range from 450K-3M. Even a good number of 4 beds available.
* Given that 1/4 of dwtn residents are in poverty it appears Dwtn has many affordable apts.
* Dwtn anchored by Bayfront, Maurice Ferre, & Margaret Pace Parks. Handful of smaller parks.
* Good cultural amenities including  diverse restaurants, bars, cafes, and art galleries. Plenty of theaters ranging from community to professional, boutique theaters & a cineplex, lots of museums.
* Regional amenities include a Convention Center and the Miami Heat arena are Dwtn.
* Several satellite campus’s dwtn  but not major university presence. Probably 5-6K students dwtn.
* Solid employment #s with 170-200K office jobs. Strong rent demand still and very expensive.
* Retail amenities include 2 supermarkets, drug stores, a Marshalls, the expansive  Brickell City Centre (includes a Sac 5th, lots of clothing stores), Bayside Market (good array of shops but smaller & cheaper), plenty of boutiques, home goods & desserts, many banks & gyms, and a Dwtn library. 


* Connectivity is generally good but certainly several wider 1-way streets and poor connections (esp. for non cars) across the Miami River.
* Lots of rentals available but very expensive. Studios lease btwn 2K-4K, 1-beds is the same range but more product leasing in the 3Ks, 3-beds are plentiful but generally lease btwn 4K-10K with plenty even more expensive.
* Only one major league team plays dwtn.
* Some sketchy areas dwtn around Flagler where there is a high homeless population. These areas are esp. dangerous at night. But Bricknell and north of Flagler Avenue are safe areas.
* No stately post office
* Miami’s districts often lack strong distinction thanks to all the modern bldgs.
* Historic architecture is pretty limited but what does remain is nice.
* Urban massing is good in Bricknell but hit or miss north of the Miami River. Lots of open lots and surface parking still. Often a lack of cohesion.
* Tree canopy is so .
* Bricknell has a great buzz but north of the Miami River is hit or miss. 

Hollywood, FL- A decent Miami suburb with a large urban core

Hollywood was founded by a Joseph Young in the 1920s who poured millions into its development. Hollywood quickly become a destination for snowbirds and grew to 2,600 by 1930 and 6,000 by 1940 helping to create a decent walkable dwtn along W. Hollywood Blvd. The City’s population really grew after WW II growing to 14K by 1950, 35K by 1960, and exploding to 106K by 1970.

West Hollywood and Harrison Streets (btwn the Circle and Dixie Hwy) form the core of Dwtn Hollywood and the best walkable and mixed- district. There are also lots of nice MF buildings along the Circle. But the urban core is actually quite extensive (for Florida standards) as West Hollywood blvd has decent urban form all the way to 1-95 and a good amount of streets with homes from the 1930-1950 with sidewalks. Like most Florida dwtn suburbs, Hollywood has good cultural and decent retail amenities. This is also one of suburban Miami’s most diverse suburbs with relatively affordable housing. There are also good schools here and well dispersed park amenities. What Central Hollywood really needs to move from a decent urban district to a good one is quality mixed-use buildings along all its business corridors, more density, more retail amenities, safer bike lanes, and better public transit.

Click here to view my Album on Flickr


* Nice connectivity in Dwtn Delray Beach
* A pair of dedicated bike lanes run thru dwtn but no dedicated bike stations.
* Overall pretty good diversity especially racial and generational.
* Delay has a decent amount of affordable housing thanks to having their own Housing Authority.
* Culturally a great array of restaurants, bars, & cafes, tons of art galleries, a couple of museums, a cineplex, a performing arts center and a couple other theaters, and several live music venues.
* Also good retail amenities with tons of boutiques and brand name clothing stores, a couple drug stores, a bookstore, tons of dessert stores, a couple gyms, plenty of salons & barbers, a post office and dwtn public library .
* Good urban form along most of Atlantic Ave and ne 2nd Ave.
* Dwtn Delray is generally feels safe but has a pretty high crime rate.
* Overall pretty good modern infill with decent design and quality urban form.


* Density not great but pretty average for a Florida suburban dwtn.
* Not great access to Dwtns. About 30-40 min drive to dwtn West Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale and 1 hr. to Dwtn Miami. About 1 hr. + via train to either Dwtn.
* For sale housing is pretty expensive but some moderately priced condos. 1-bed condos sell btwn 275K-500K, 2-beds sell anywhere btwn 400K-1M, and wide variety with 3 & 4 beds selling anywhere btwn 500K- 2M.
* Rentals are even more expensive with studios leasing in the 2KS, 1-beds btwn mid 2Ks-5Ks, 2-beds btwn 3K-7K, 3-beds btwn 5K-12K.
* Parks are limited to the Old School Square (a nice centrally located park) and the small Veterans Park.
* Dwtn is missing a supermarket.
* No schools within the Dwtn area. Some private schools nearby but pretty small.
* Some historic hsg on the more SF streets but not a ton. Biz districts is all modern in-fill.

Lake Worth, FL- One of Southeast Florida’s most diverse suburbs

Lake worth stood at only  38 residents in 1912. But this quickly  changed as the town grew rapidly benefitting from the Florida land boom in the 1920s. Lake Worth’s population more than quintupling from 1,106 in 1920 to nearly 6,000 in 1930. Sadly the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane devastated Lake Worth. The storm, combined with the Great Depression led to a severe economic decline within the community. Yet Lake Worth saw rebirth after WWII  growing to 7,406 in 1940. The 1970s-1990s was a period of neglect for Downtown and the inner-city neighborhoods and Lake Worth gained notoriety as the “skin-flick capital of the country”. But cheap real estate brought many immigrants to Lake Worth greatly diversifying the City. Most immigrants came from Central America and the Caribbean. By the late 1990s dwtn began to revitalize and Central Lake Worth is more or less a stable place with some seedy and disinvested pockets remaining. 

Unlike other suburbs between Miami and West Palm Beach with urban Dwtns, Lake Worth has great connectively, bike infrastructure, and solid public transit. It is also much more diverse and affordable than its comparable suburbs. Lake worth also has solid cultural and retail amenities located mostly on Lake and Lucerne Aves. But to truly be a good urban district, Lake Worth needs more urban infill along Lake and Luceren Avenues, a total urban rehaul of Dixie Hwy, which is very auto centric right now, more park space, and more retail amenities.

Click here to view my Lake Worth Album on Flickr


* Pretty good density, especially for a Miami suburb.
* Generally sidewalks and ADA curbs are in place but few up to date ADA curb cuts.
* Solid public transit access and only a 30 min train ride to dwtn West Palm Beach. 50 Min train to Ft. Lauderdale.
* Great connectivity and great bike lanes system Dwtn.
* Great racial and economic diversity here.
* Rentals are moderately priced, especially for Miami Standards. 1-beds rent in the 1Ks, 2-beds in the 2 & 3Ks, 3-beds are slightly more expensive.
* Also a decent amount of moderately priced for sale housing. 1-bed condos sell anywhere btwn 50K-800K depending on size and condition. 2-beds btwn 150K-800K, 3 & 4 beds anywhere btwn 200K-1M.
* There also seems to be a fair amount of voucher hsg available too.
* Decent cultural amenities with a good array of restaurants (esp. Hispanic), bars, and cafes. Also a couple live music venues, a theater company, plenty of art galleries, and several local museums.
* Retail amenities include a Publix supermarket and many grocerias, plenty of drug stores, a decent # of boutiques and banks, several antique and home good stores, a book store & record shop, tons of consignment stores, several dessert joints, a dwtn post office and public library, and a couple of gyms.
* Quality historic homes and a good amount of quality historic commercial remains.


* Park space is limited to a Dwtn plaza and decent waterfront park.
* No hospital near dwtn and few medical offices.
* Dwtn Lake Worth is generally pretty safe but has its issues and a fair amount of blight that remains for its disinvestment btwn the 70s-90s.
* In-fill is a mixed bag. Some decent stuff along Lake Ave the biz district but lots of crummy autocentric bldgs along Dixie Hwy.
* Urban mass is bad along Dixie and a mix-bag along Lake and Lucerne Ave.

Boca Raton- another Ritzy Miami Suburb with a small downtown

Boca Raton was incorporated in 1924 but remained very small until after WWII. This was largely due to a major hurricane in the late 20s and the bankruptcy of its developer and founder Mizner. Mizner had grand ambitions for Boca Raton and I assume if they were realized Boca Raton would have been more similar to Coral Gables in character. Boca Raton did pick up steam moving from only had 1,000 residents in 1950 to 7,000 in 1960 and 50K by 1980. But due to its later development most of the City is suburban with a small walkable Dwtn core of only 0.5 Sq. Miles, which often feels like a strong urban/suburban hybrid.

Downtown Boca Raton has established itself as a lifestyle and entertainment hub with tons of shopping, food & beverage retail, cultural amenities, good walkable amenities, but a so  urban form. Because of their desire to make parking convenient, many surface lots and strip malls are mixed in with quality urban mixed-use buildings and plazas. Interestingly a strict development code for the size and types of commercial buildings exists in the City. I  guess they forgot to pass different laws to make downtown truly urban. Throw in some tacky Mediterranean and Spanish Colonial Revival Architecture and you have a very strong hodgepodge of a place. The most consistant urban form is the colonnade buildings around Plaza Real and quality mixed-use buildings along most of E. Palmetto Blvd. Other areas for improvement in Dwtn Boca Raton include more affordable housing, better diversity across all metrics, and much higher density. In a city of 30 square miles creating a truly dense, walkable, and urban dwtn of 1 sq. mile shouldn’t be a controversial.

Click here to view my Album on Flickr


* ADA infrastructure is good in the Dwtn area but hit or miss in the residential portion of the eval area east of Mizner Blvd.
* Several dedicated bike lanes running thru dwtn. Not dedicated bike stations however.
* Several very nice downtown plazas most notably that elongated Plaza Real which includes an amphitheater. Sandborn Park is also pretty nice. Not much else other than a couple smaller parks.
* Downtown Boca is a very safe place.
* Several good schools but none of them are Dwtn, all quasi-walkable west of Dixie Highway.
* Culturally Boca Raton has a good array of restaurants, bars, cafes, several breweries and art galleries, lots of live music venues, several local theaters, a cineplex, and several museums.
* Retail amenities include 4 supermarkets, a couple drug stores, many boutiques, lots of stores at the Minzer Park Shopping Mall, many gift shops, several home goods stores & consignment shops, tons of dessert shops/bakeries, and gyms, and a dwtn library and post office.
* The urban form of Boca Raton’s in-fill is generally good but I say that with some qualifications. The design is pretty tacky and there is still a lot of strip malls and surface parking lots throughout dwtn. In-fill along E. Palmetto Blvd and Plaza Real is the best.


* Density is pretty low more like a suburb.
* Not great access to Dwtns. About 30-40 min drive to dwtn West Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale and 1 hr. to Dwtn Miami. About 50-1hr via train to either Dwtn.
* Diversity is pretty poor here especially economic and family.
* Rentals are expensive with 1-beds leasing in the 2K & 3Ks, 2-beds btwn 3K-6K, 3-beds 4K-8K. Pretty good supply.
* More moderate hsg with for-sale options. 1-bed Condos sell btwn 200K-600K, 2-beds sell at a wide variety btwn 300K-2 M, 3 & 4 beds 700K-3M.
* Only a little bit of historic architecture in the residential pocket of Boca Raton east of Dixie Hwy. None to speak of in Dwtn and along E Palmetto Blvd.

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


* 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.


* 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


* 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.


* 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


* 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.


* 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


* 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.


* 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


* 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.


* 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


* 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). 


* 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.