Between electric South Beach and tony Bal Harbour, you will find a once-hidden gem of a Miami neighborhood that is undergoing a dramatic resurgence. Once a sleepy retirement community, Surfside has recently been transformed into a vibrant area defined by high-end condominiums, shops and restaurants — without losing any of its charm and character.
Surfside is small town, stretching along A1A/Collins Avenue from 87th Street to 96th Street, and from the beach (where you find most of the new condominium projects mentioned below) to Bay Drive and Biscaya, with homes facing Biscayne Bay to the west. The area in between features modest single family houses, with quiet, tree-lined streets. In just one square mile, this beach town seamlessly mixes old with new, celebrating its history while adding top-tier developments designed by world-renowned architects like Renzo Piano, Richard Meier and Antonio Citterio.
Stringent and intelligent building codes limit Surfside building heights to no more than 12 stories, providing beachgoers with plenty of sunlight throughout the daytime hours. (This is in contrast to the much-taller projects along neighboring Sunny Isles Beach and Miami Beach.) Surfside’s close proximity to the world-famous Bal Harbour shops and Indian Creek Country Club are also appealing to its well-heeled new residents, as are fabulous restaurants such the Harbour Grill, Le Sireneuse, 26 Sushi & Tapas, Cafe Vert, and Atlantikos.
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How and when did Surfside’s dramatic reshaping come about? It all started in 2010 when a team of developers purchased and then demolished the Beach House hotel at 94th Street and Collins Avenue. This group’s plan to build a 12-story condo fell through, and one year later a European investor purchased the vacant land and built what is now the Grand Beach Hotel, offering 263 guest rooms on the east side of Collins Avenue and 73 on the west side. (This was soon followed by the Residence Inn by Marriot.) These hotels launched a new era of modern sophistication to Surfside, attracting a more urbane, international set of visitors.
A few years later, architect Richard Meir and investor Nadim Ashi teamed up to develop an even grander and bolder project: the Four Seasons Hotel and Residences at the Surf Club (located at 91st Street and Collins Avenue), offering 80 hotel rooms and two towers with 150 luxury residences. The original, historic Surf Club was founded in 1930 and famously drew celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly and Winston Churchill during its midcentury heyday. Completed in December 2017, this extraordinary new project has introduced Surfside to yet another wave of refined and wealthy individuals. (Full disclosure: I have personally sold units there but have no formal affiliation.) Other signature condominiums launched in Surfside during this amazing period include the FENDI Château with 58 units; Eighty Seven Park with 64 units, and Arte with 18 units.
Those four projects alone represent 290 new luxury units coming online in the past few years, dramatically impacting Surfside’s real estate market. In 2012, both single family homes and condos in Surfside were selling at about $300 per square foot; by July 2017 those prices were as high as $750 per square foot. Factoring in the newest condos hitting the market, where units are priced above $3 million, the per square foot price jumps to more than $2,000. Many condos have been sold in the $2,600 to $2,800 per square range, and some even above $3,000 per square foot.
I should also mention that, historically, 2,400 square feet was the largest condo one could find in Surfside; in this new surge of construction, that is now the smallest size available. (Most new unit sizes range above 3,000 square feet and well into the 10,000-plus range.)
These new projects are already attracting mega-wealthy buyers from the northeast U.S., Canada, Europe and Latin America in search of spacious, beachside, ultra-luxury condominiums with five-star amenities. (There are simply too many prominent surgeons, financial professionals, investors and entrepreneurs to list here; a Google search of recent purchases will turn up some names you might know.)
This Surfside wave of high-end condominiums is only beginning as more land and older buildings continue to be purchased by developers. It has been thrilling to be a part of this phenomenon, watching the once-modest Surfside evolve into the “peer” of its upscale neighbor Bal Harbour, to the point where the two are now connected as separate but equal areas of sophistication and luxury.
Master Broker Joelle Oiknine is a real estate advisor with One Sothebys Realty. She can be reached at 305-491-1885 and/or firstname.lastname@example.org.
▪ This opinion piece was written for Business Monday in the Miami Herald.
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