Miami is a town of visionaries, from the original pioneers like Julia Tuttle and Mary Brickell to modern-day trail blazers like Tony Goldman, the urban place-maker responsible for emerging neighborhoods like New York’s SoHo, Miami Beach and the Wynwood Arts District. The “Magic City” has been erected on the dreams and determination of few. It has been built on a philosophy embodied in Goldman’s immortal words: “If you just look at what you see, you won’t go anywhere. You’ve got to look beyond what you see to be able to know you can realize the dream you imagine.”
Before it was one of the most valuable destinations in the world, Miami Beach’s South of Fifth neighborhood was a rundown neighborhood. Those of us in the industry who have been around Miami real estate long enough will remember that 20 years ago, the tall glistening towers that welcome cruise passengers to our city were but a glimmer in the eye of a few forward-thinking developers that saw the potential of this area.
Alongside those developers, our firm’s strategic sales and marketing efforts contributed to the transformation of this neighborhood, which runs south from Fifth Street to Government Cut. Apogee, Icon South Beach, Murano Grande, Ocean House, 321 Ocean, Portofino Tower and Yacht Club at Portofino were among the 90 percent of the waterfront buildings we represented in the South of Fifth area. In the process, we helped brand this exclusive neighborhood, now known as SoFi.
It wasn’t easy, but the developers, brokers and buyers who believed in SoFi’s potential were the beneficiaries. For example, the residences at Apogee, the pinnacle of SoFi luxury living, had an average price per square foot just more than $1,000 at launch in 2004. Today, Apogee’s residences average $2,500 per square foot, with penthouses well over $4,000 per square foot.
Two decades removed and two miles west across the shimmering waters of Biscayne Bay, another SoFi is emerging. East Edgewater, with its strategic waterfront location, proximity to Miami’s most in-demand zones and amazing value proposition, is the best opportunity Miami has seen since abandoned dog tracks and retirement homes called South Beach home. We find ourselves again staring down opportunity and potential.
East Edgewater is immediately north of downtown, between the Venetian and Julia Tuttle Causeways, east of Biscayne Boulevard adjacent to Biscayne Bay. With the beaches to its east, Wynwood Arts District and the airport to the west, downtown Miami to the south and the Design District to the north, it sits at the crossroads of luxury retail, high-end dining and world-class arts and culture.
In the 1930s, East Edgewater was home to the city’s most affluent individuals. By the 1980s, as other areas of Miami developed, the once highly regarded zone had fallen into disrepair. In the early 2000s, with the zoning changes allowing high-rises, came forward-thinking developers: Quantum on the Bay set the pace for the resurgence of this area, and today it sits as the only neighborhood in downtown Miami with waterfront that is zoned for high-rise condominium residences, presenting a rare opportunity. Miami’s major developers — Terra Group, Melo Group, Two Roads, OKO and RELATED, among others — have doubled down.
When the smart people of Miami set their eyes on an area, smart money follows. Since 2011, 10 pre-construction projects have launched in East Edgewater, putting it among Miami’s fastest-growing neighborhoods. Of those, Crimson, Paraiso Bay, Icon Bay and Bay House have been delivered. Another five projects are expected to be delivered by the end of 2017, bringing 1,500 new residences to East Edgewater. As demand for the neighborhood increases, so has the level of ultra-luxury offerings. Elysee Miami (starting at $1.5 million) and Missoni Baia (starting at $2 million), which my firm represents, have launched sales in the last 12 months.
10The number of pre-construction projects that have launched in East Edgewater since 2011. neighborhoods.
Buyers have flocked from all around the world: Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, France, Italy and Turkey being among the top international countries of origin. Emerging Latin American markets such as Ecuador and Peru, as well as markets farther east from China, Singapore and UAE, have also begun to take interest in the area’s ultra-luxury inventory.
Easy access to major transit links, spectacular waterfront views and close proximity to Miami’s in-demand zones only add to the appeal of East Edgewater’s value proposition. By far, the major motivator for buyers has been the opportunity to purchase ultra-premium luxury residences significantly below comparable premium waterfront in Miami, Miami Beach and most of the world’s leading global cities. The average per-square-foot for ultra-luxury waterfront residences in East Edgewater ranges from the low $700’s to the high $800’s, more than three-times lower than SoFi’s $2,805 average per square foot. Simply put, East Edgewater offers an unprecedented value proposition, with an outlook toward exalted appreciation.
We need look no further than the thriving Wynwood Arts District to realize the power of Goldman’s words. From his singular restaurant (Joey’s) has emerged an epicenter of art and culture. This history, this promise for the future, is all around us. It was the case in SoFi, and it is the case today in East Edgewater.
This article originally appeared in The Miami Herald