When looking for the Miami-area neighborhoods of tomorrow, the signs are there—if you know what to watch for.
—By Drew Limsky
Watch for the new Starbucks or Whole Foods. The new yoga studio or SoulCycle. A juice bar. For potential homeowners and investors searching for a neighborhood on the way up, these are the telltale clues. Interior designer Christopher Coleman of the Sanchez Coleman Studio is always on the lookout for promising neighborhoods. “I love old gas stations or small cottages or abandoned buildings that I think I can transform,” he says. Coleman envisions turning such spaces into restaurants or concept stores, and when he sees these venues appearing, he knows the neighborhood is prime for gentrification.
Brian Rokicki, a realtor associate with Darin Tansey’s group, Douglas Elliman Real Estate, was quick to spot the transformation happening in Sunset Harbour, with its now-established foodie-and-fitness lifestyle. Keep an eye out for small or large parcels of land being combined, he advises. “When this occurs just once or twice, you know something is happening. And once the neighborhood is 40 or 50 percent there, it’s a domino effect,” he says. “Getting to that 40 percent is the hard part.”
He points to Miami Beach above 26th Street as an example of a place teeming with encouraging signs, and emphasizes the enduring appeal of the waterfront. Even when a stretch of beach seems to be lagging, Rokicki says, that won’t last forever. “There’s a limited amount of waterfront property,” he says, “and when people buy down here, their number-one priority is an ocean or bay view. People may be deterred when the neighborhood isn’t developed enough, but it’s going to make it.”
Yury Bettoni, the former tennis pro who is now a business partner at Italkraft, advises looking for infrastructure renovation, art installations donated for specific corners, and new bicycle stations. Both Bettoni and Rokicki say the rise of a single residential tower with a famous architect or interior designer attached can cause a neighborhood to start to turn trendy.
Bettoni lives in South of Fifth and for years has predicted that the coveted Miami Beach neighborhood would eventually spread north. “Look at the new hotels coming on Fifth Street,” he remembers telling friends. “South of Fifth is moving to Fifth and will cross it.” He ticks off the new lifestyle hotels that are a telltale sign of gentrification north of Sofi: the Urbanica Meridian Hotel and a few more nearby Urbanica hotels on the way. And the Kimpton Angler’s Hotel at 660 Washington suddenly appeared as a modern oasis. Today the renaissance that Bettoni predicted is undeniable.
KEEP AN EYE ON…
COCONUT GROVE. The Grove is enjoying a dynamic revitalization that includes new residential and commercial development—and a revamp of its iconic CocoWalk. DE’s Rokicki notes that any neighborhood with ambitious plans goes through growing pains during construction, but when the reimagined CocoWalk is complete, look for gleaming new offices, dining, and retail.
EDGEWATER. The Elysee Miami has upped the ante in Edgewater, a neighborhood increasingly sought after by Millennials. The area has successfully made the transition from affordable to luxury, and foodies flock to Amara at Paraiso, helmed by beloved local chef Michael Schwartz.
SURFSIDE. Surfside is a beachfront enclave primed to reach its potential. “It’s a really unique place because you can’t build above 12 stories or so,” Rokicki says. The human scale appeals to a certain type of buyer. “It’s for people who love upscale boutique,” he says. The presence of the newish Surf Club Four Seasons virtually guarantees success.
WASHINGTON AVE., SOUTH BEACH. The blocks just north of Fifth Street were once lined with head shops, narrow bodegas, and tattoo parlors (many still exist). But Sofi was a former no-man’s- land, too. Today Washington Avenue’s Art Deco facades remain, but behind them the foundations are being laid for hotels, retail, offices, and residences. Credit the City of Miami Beach for designating the stretch as a Business Improvement District last year.
WYNWOOD. Rokicki says that while Wynwood is renowned for its transformation into an arty, edgy destination, it has precious little residential inventory. But green shoots are appearing in the form of plans for condo towers and a branded apartment complex developed by the trendy Diesel fashion brand.
Look for DE developments soon in many of these up-and-coming neighborhoods.