Miami is America’s city of reinvention. Over the past half-century it has turned from a retirement backwater into an edgy party city and cosmopolitan centre for modern art, in a journey marked by financial boom, bust and boom.
The latest reinvention is under way in Brickell, a high-rise part of Downtown that’s already a hot favourite with younger Miami residents. Miami is America’s second-largest financial centre after Manhattan and Brickell is an easy walk from the banks and businesses that pack Downtown. So, in a state in love with the car, Brickell is also the first place in Florida where residents are happy to walk to work.
BRICKELL — CITY WITHIN A CITY
“Even five years ago Brickell was a business district that closed at 6pm but now it has become a big hit with young professionals complete with bars, restaurants, shopping centres, markets and sports facilities,” says Edgardo Defortuna, chief executive of Savills associate Fortune International Group. “Miami was once just a beach city but the development of areas like Brickell make it more integrated and mature.”
Brickell’s transformation from out-of-hours ghost town to a highly liveable, energetic city within a city is remarkable. The population has tripled since 2000.
Brickell City Centre, a newly opened retail and entertainment hub, will feature 120 shops including a flagship Saks Fifth Avenue, while every Saturday a farmers’ market attracts shoppers from across Miami. Brickell has become somewhere people can — and want to — live, work and play.
Property prices are about half of those three miles away in prime South Beach. Reach and Rise are two new Brickell high-rise schemes, each selling 390 one- to four-bedroom flats with balconies, from £490,000 for 1,000sq ft. Service charges from £8,000 cover amenities including a gym, pool, spa, entertainment room and concierge. The first building is over 90 per cent sold.
THE CHILL-OUT OPTION
Thirty miles north of Miami, Fort Lauderdale is an upmarket beachfront community popular with holidaying families and American retirees. BA begins direct flights up to four times a week from Gatwick in July to the local airport — a popular and less-crowded alternative to Miami International.
Five-star brands developing in Fort Lauderdale include W and Four Seasons. Most interesting, however, and directly on the sandy beach is Auberge Beach Residences & Spa, two new sleek buildings with 171 apartments priced from £1.19 million.
The residences are on a 4.6-acre plot in relatively peaceful north Fort Lauderdale, with underground parking and easy access to the much-loved local marinas and golf resorts. Homes are generously sized, averaging 2,900sq ft, with high ceilings and large terraces.
Early buyers at Auberge are from the US and across Europe, with an average age of 49. Almost half plan to make it their main home, helped by excellent facilities including three restaurants, a fitness centre and yoga room, several pools and a wine-tasting room.
“Fort Lauderdale is perfect for people who want to spend time with family and friends close to the activities and glamour of Miami but without the madness and chaos,” says Andy Mitchell, chief executive of Auberge developers Fairwinds Group. “A train line is being built that will eventually take you to Miami in 15 minutes.”
INSIDER TIPS: ANDY MARTIN
Andy Martin of London design and architectural firm AMA is currently working on Chotto Matte, the Miami outpost of the Japanese/Peruvian Soho restaurant, coming to life at the Herzog & de Meuron designed 1111 Lincoln Road building in Miami Beach. Here are his top five Miami must-sees:
- Sunday brunch at The Standard spa hotel, arriving Miami Vice style in a ridiculously large speedboat
- Catch up on the art galleries and street art in Wynwood and the Design District.
- Visit the landmark Bacardi Building, designed in 1963 and built by the rum company after it was ejected from Cuba
- Enjoy cocktails at Broken Shaker before heading to 27 Restaurant at the Freehand Hotel
- Andy Martin’s top hotel choice is The Raleigh Miami Beach, a classic home from home with a great restaurant