Real Estate

Families, baby boomers redefining Coconut Grove

In this Jan. 16, 2018, photo, with the skyline of Miami on the horizon, boats are docked at Dinner Key Marina in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami.
In this Jan. 16, 2018, photo, with the skyline of Miami on the horizon, boats are docked at Dinner Key Marina in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami. AP

For many years, Miami’s Coconut Grove district was known primarily for its loose and art-friendly character; the place you came to party, enjoy dinner, or see a show. Bordered by North Prospect Drive to the south, Le Jeune Road to the west, U.S. 1 to the north, and Biscayne Bay to the east, “The Grove” is home to some of Miami’s signature outdoor events, including the Great Taste of the Grove Food and Wine Festival, the King Mango Strut, and the Coconut Grove Arts Festival. Throughout most of its history, funky Coconut Grove was the place for younger folks who thrived in its off-center culture, and proudly rejected national chain stores and restaurants.

Fast-forward to today, however, and a new wave of upscale commercial and residential projects has completely redefined this historic community, making it an ideal location for growing families and “baby boomers” who want spacious, luxury condominiums. In particular, the past five years have brought a dramatic reawakening of Coconut Grove, garnering national and international attention for the area, as well as a new caliber of clientele who want the luxury lifestyle incorporated with the neighborhood’s intrinsic charm and appeal.

National data collected by CoreLogic, BLS and Freddie Mac bear out this “house to condo” trend: From 2010 to 2015, the increase in the number of Baby Boomers moving to multifamily units has freed up nearly 100,000 single family homes across the country. And while Miami’s “empty nesters” have been trading their former homes for modern, sophisticated apartments in recent years, a bevy of exciting condominium and apartment projects has made life in the Grove an appealing new option for them. (Until recently, they could only chose between traffic-dense downtown Miami or touristy Miami Beach for the site of their new luxury condominiums.)

Who are these new Coconut Grovers? The vast majority of my clients are coming from nearby Coral Gables, known for its large, stately, and high-maintenance homes; a mix of recent empty-nesters, boomers, retirees, and families whose children attend Gulliver Academy, Ransom Everglades, Carrollton School, or the University of Miami. They want spacious new units with accessibility to water/dock space, modern gyms and spas, and the option of having two or more parking spaces.

One well-known new resident is New York Yankee legend and Miami Marlins owner Derek Jeter, who is renting an apartment at The Grove at Grand Bay; one of many new Grove projects to come online over the past five to 10 years. (Known for its distinctive “twisted deck of cards” architecture.) Other signature condominiums in recent years include Park Grove and the Grovenor, with Fairchild Coconut Grove, the Arbor, and Casa Grove expected to come online shortly. The developers of all these projects should be applauded for having the foresight to imagine this Coconut Grove resurgence, and for creating units that clearly appeal to this distinctive market.

No discussion of Coconut Grove would be complete without mentioning the exciting new possibilities for CocoWalk, the open-air shopping center that opened in 1990, ushering in national chains such as The Gap and AMC Theatres. After languishing in recent years, the center exchanged hands in 2015 and its new owners are currently revamping CocoWalk to feature boutiques and restaurants targeting the Grove’s new population, and a wing of Class A office space to increase daytime traffic.

It has been tremendously exciting to be a part of Coconut Grove’s evolution and going from an inventory of literally zero new condos to suddenly having a surplus of diverse and exceptional new choices to offer buyers. The future is certainly bright for this historic and eclectic slice of Miami.

Master Broker Karen Elmir is a Realtor-Associate with Cervera Real Estate. She can be reached at (786) 301-2220 and/or kelmir@cervera.com.

This opinion piece was written for Business Monday in the Miami Herald.

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