I‘ve lived in South Beach for more than a decade now but I am still impressed by the rapid urban renewal of this high-end neighborhood. It’s widely known that this touristic area of luxury high-rise condos has only recently emerged.
Indeed, in the 20’s, the Lummus brothers turned South Beach into an affordable seaside community for the working class. It served as the hub of the city for industry and transportation. No relaxing sunbathing at that time! Then small 3-story Art Deco condos popped up in the neighborhood.
However, South Beach and more particularly South of Fifth became desolated as people moved farther north when the Fontainebleau Hotel opened in the 50’s. North Beach with its restaurants, theaters and shops was the new fashionable center. The situation worsened after 1980 with the beginning of a massive Cuban immigration. The neighborhood was blighted by poverty and crime exactly as in the movie Miami Vice with its drug dealing and its unsafe streets!
Here comes the German visionary who changed South Beach’s destiny. In the early 90’s, Thomas Kramer took a helicopter ride over the beach and decided to build a string of high-rise condos along the water. He spent more than $100 million to create a new version of New-York’s Battery Park City. At first, as for all genius ideas, it seemed a little bit crazy but it was in fact South Beach’s most spectacular facelift ever! In 1995, he had financial issues and he turned to Jorge Pérez of the Related Group who developed amongst others the Murano, the Apogee and the Icon.
Nowadays, there is no more vagrant in the streets and the real estate market is stunning. Just so you know, last year, a penthouse was sold for $25 million at the Continuum towers and another one was bought for just under $21 million at the Icon. These prices broke the record for a bay-facing condo in South Beach. Back in the past, who would have bet that?