Real Estate

A look at Cocoplum, an enduring Miami neighborhood

The guard gate of the Cocoplum community.
The guard gate of the Cocoplum community. For the Miami Herald/file, 2009

At the meeting point of Sunset Drive, Cocoplum Road, Le Jeune Road and Old Cutler Road, you will find Miami’s Cocoplum Circle: a rounded intersection highlighted by beautiful landscaping and a sparkling canal that bisects two waterfront parks. Almost equidistant to Coral Gables, Coconut Grove and South Miami, the Cocoplum neighborhood has for many decades been one of Miami’s most desirable places to live, offering quick access to the airport, highways, downtown Miami and Miami Beach. Residents and visitors enjoy foot and bike trails from as far northeast as Key Biscayne, with close proximity to Matheson Hammock Park, Fairchild Botanical Gardens and some of Miami’s finest schools.

George Merrick, the founder of Coral Gables, recognized the unique drawing power of this area’s ethereal and natural charm. In the 1920s, he would take guests staying at the nearby Biltmore Hotel on gondola tours through canals near what is now Cocoplum, quickly turning them into Coral Gables home buyers.

For new visitors or outsiders, Cocoplum may at first seem like a tony and exclusive village.

To be sure, home prices range from $2 million to over $20 million, making a home purchase there an aspirational pursuit for most of us. (There have been 24 closed sales in the past 12 months at an average price of $4 million, and a price-per-square-foot average of $599.) However, a closer and longer look will reveal a true neighborhood that fosters community, family, outdoor activities and neighbors who get out and meet each other.

Three Distinct Sections

Beyond the guard gate, visitors will find three Cocoplum sections with waterfront and non-waterfront homes:

▪ Phase 1 is a special tax district with a city of Coral Gables police patrol, a voluntary civic association, manicured medians and tennis courts. (This section does not have a mandatory homeowners association.)

▪ The Islands of Cocoplum section offers the most complete amenity package of any comparable neighborhood, including a clubhouse available for private resident functions, a modern and well-appointed gym, a children’s playground, a heated pool with swimming lanes, two half basketball courts, seven lighted tennis courts with a new pavilion, a beach volleyball court, a green park and a roaming private patrol.

▪ Tahiti Beach Island features 29 acre home sites, including 17 bayfront, with a guard-gated entrance and private roads. In addition to the Islands of Cocoplum amenities, Tahiti Beach residents also enjoy a private bayfront beach park and a pavilion with three tennis courts. (Homeowners association membership is mandatory here and in the Islands of Cocoplum.)

Phase 1 and Islands of Cocoplum include waterfront homes with direct bay, no-bridge access, and others with one-bridge (21-foot clearance) access to the bay. For non-waterfront residents wishing to dock their vessel within the neighborhood, the Cocoplum Yacht Club offers slips for sale and rent ranging from 40 feet to more than 100 feet.

Legacy and Evolution

While I have had the good fortune to be an active real estate agent in Cocoplum since 2003, my partners Teresita Shelton (my mother) and Consuelo Stewart have represented buyers and sellers here since the neighborhood was a newly platted subdivision in the 1970s.

We have witnessed and promoted the enduring nature of Cocoplum. People who move here seem to stay for many years, as do their offspring.

Together, we have worked with families (sometimes spanning two and three generations) moving from a smaller home to a larger home and then back to smaller, while also seeing families move on and off the water, and then back again. We know families who have lived in five different Cocoplum homes over the years, and we have sold some of the same homes three times. (We have also sold homes on lots my partners first sold 30-plus years ago, some of them more than once.) I have enjoyed seeing Cocoplum homes undergo dramatic transformations as trends and preferences in architecture, design, materials and finishes have evolved.

It is a true pleasure to introduce prospective buyers from out of town — whether it be New York, Canada, Europe or South America — to everything Cocoplum has to offer. I love it when the faces of children accompanying their parents on showings light up when they see another Cocoplum kid’s room, or the communities’ playgrounds, parks or tennis courts. I have also seen the children of prospective buyers get excited by seeing residents fishing at the Tahiti Beach park, and by seeing other kids jump from one of the bridges near their house into the canal. (I don’t think either of these two practices are actually allowed!)

Even if Cocoplum is not a realistic residential option for you or your family, I encourage you to visit and take in its beautiful parks, waterways and scenery. In a city marked by dramatic urban change and revitalization over the past 20 years, Cocoplum is a central and quiet place from which you can enjoy everything Miami has to offer, and appreciate our city’s uncommon visual and historical appeal.

Master Brokers Forum advisory board member Tere Shelton Bernace is the broker and co-owner of Shelton and Stewart Realtors. She can be reached at tbernace@sheltonandstewart.com or 305-607-7212.

▪ This was written for Business Monday in the Miami Herald and reflects the view of the writer, not necessarily of the newspaper. The Master Brokers Forum is a regular contributor to this space.

▪ Got a ‘Broker’s View’? Realtors may submit columns for Broker’s View of 700 words to to rclarke@MiamiHerald.com. This feature is intended primarily for residential brokers, who will be given preference, but pieces about commercial real estate will also be accepted as space allows.

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