Coconut Grove in the Wall Street Journal

The village of Coconut Grove is stepping out of Miami Beach’s shadow, with ambitious condo projects and a wave of new construction. PHOTO: ALEXIA FODERE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
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Peacocks amble down the side streets. The vegetation has an overgrown, jungle-like quality. Hippies once camped out here in vacant lots and public parks. And Coconut Grove—Miami’s groovy, Birkenstock-loving village—is now commanding some of the highest prices in the city, competing with slicker neighbors like Miami Beach.

With tight inventory and a spate of ambitious condo projects, the Grove has attracted a number of high profile residents in recent years, including actor Christian Slater, mega-developer Jorge Pérez, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and health care tycoon Mike Fernandez, according to public records and real-estate agents.

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Prices for some units in Park Grove’s under-construction towers are expected to top $1,900 a square foot—a city of Miami record. Coconut Grove’s priciest home, a historic estate listed for $47.5 million, is likely to be torn down as the value really lies in its 6.9 acres, agents say.

It could be a challenge for the subtropical enclave, known for its wild flora, to keep its hippie roots intact. Sandy Dufay, a retired health care company founder, is selling her 1928 waterfront villa for $3.795 million, as she’s conducting the renovation of a newer home a few blocks away.

Listing agent Mercedes Hernandez with Avatar Real Estate Services says homes on valuable waterfront lots, like Ms. Dufay’s, are dwindling because developers are tearing them down to build larger modern spreads that maximize their return. Down the block, a home on a similar lot was demolished to create a 9,800-square-foot spec house listed for almost $8 million—more than double the price of Ms. Dufay’s home.

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Located south of the downtown area, the 5.6-square-mile village of about 20,000 people predates the founding of Miami, which annexed the area in 1925. Unlike nearby Miami Beach, Coconut Grove has no sandy beaches or direct oceanfront. In the 1950s and ‘60s, beatniks and hippies were nonetheless drawn to the area’s walkable core and eclectic housing, and it has retained a bohemian spirit since, according to Paul George, a professor at Miami Dade College.

Winding side streets and lush vegetation recall an older Grove, established by English and Bahamian settlers, where Mediterranean villas meet colorful timber-frame conch houses. On some blocks, you might spot a muster of peacocks dawdling in the road. ​

“It’s different than the rest of the city—it isn’t manicured like other neighborhoods,” saidBernardo Fort-Brescia, the co-founder of design firm Arquitectonica and a longtime resident. He lives with his family in a modern waterfront home in a junglelike private community thick with trees.

Mr. Pérez, the billionaire developer and founder of Related Group, lives down the road in a 10,000-square-foot Venetian-style palazzo. Nearby is Jonathan Lewis, an investor and son of the late Progressive Insurance chairman, Peter Lewis, according to records, as well as Carlos Migoya, the CEO of Jackson Health System (and occasional tennis partner to Mr. Pérez, the developer says).

The spirit persists in the zoning code, which forbids adjacent homes to be exactly alike and mandates that removal of historic trees, like the village’s prized banyans and oaks, must be cleared by the city, says Luciana Gonzalez, assistant director of planning and zoning.

When high-end retail and residential development picked up in nearby Miami Beach and surrounding areas in the late 1990s, the Grove was largely left out, said Peter Zalewski,founder of condo-data company Cranespotters. “The only people you were left with were the hippies,” says Mr. Zalewski, who adds that top-flight buyers looked to beachfront communities.

That began to change in 2013, when sales started at the Grove at Grand Bay, two towers designed by Bjarke Ingels, who is now designing New York’s Two World Trade Center. Prices ranged from about $3 million to $9 million, with a roughly 14,000-square-foot penthouse asking $28 million. It was the first new high-end condo project to hit the Grove since about 2006 and all 98 units have sold, according to David Martin, the president of the developer, Terra Group. The towers will be finished in roughly eight months.

Miami’s Coconut Grove in Bloom

The hamlet that neighbors Miami Beach has peacocks, blocks of thick vegetation and colorful residents

La Brisa, a 6.9-acre Mediterranean estate in the Grove, is listed for $47.5 million with Nelson Gonzalez of EWM Realtors. Mr. Gonzalez said interest so far has come from developers looking to level the property and subdivide the land.
Visitors view Biscayne Bay from a gazebo in the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami’s Coconut Grove.
‘The Barge’ on display in the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.
A statue in Coconut Grove
The centerpiece of the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is the Italianate villa built for businessman James Deering.
Yachts on the marina
An organic farmer’s market in Coconut Grove in December.
Sandy Dufay, a retired healthcare company founder, at her 1928 villa in Coconut Grove. She is selling the home for $3.795 million with Mercedes Hernandez of Avatar Real Estate Services.
Ms. Dufay purchased the six-bedroom home in 2004 for $2.25 million, but she has lived in the Grove since the 1970s.
Ms. Dufay spent more than $500,000 to renovate the 4,800-square-foot home, adding an elevator and covering the grounds with tropical landscaping. She is seated with her Havanese dogs, Bentley and Chacha.
A view of the living room
A view of the deck at Ms. Dufay’s waterfront home, located in a gated community.
Ms. Dufay filled the home with an eclectic mix of furnishings, including decorative pieces from Bali and China.
The garden and pool area of Ms. Dufay’s home.
The pool area
The dining room
A view of the garden and waterfront from the balcony.
The Venetian-style palazzo of billionaire developer Jorge Pérez in Coconut Grove
The former home of NBA star LeBron James in Coconut Grove. Mr. James sold the home for about $13.4 million in 2015, according to public records and listing agent Tomi Rose, making it one of the most expensive residential sales in the Grove.
The former home of pop star Madonna, who sold the home for $7.5 million in 2000, according to public records.
A rendering of Park Grove, three towers on the bayfront in Coconut Grove designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and his firm OMA. Prices there exceed $1,900 a square foot for some units, setting a record for the city of Miami. The towers are being developed by Terra Group and Related. Prices range from $600,000 to $8 million.
La Brisa, a 6.9-acre Mediterranean estate in the Grove, is listed for $47.5 million with Nelson Gonzalez of EWM Realtors. Mr. Gonzalez said interest so far has come from developers looking to level the property and subdivide the land.
Visitors view Biscayne Bay from a gazebo in the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami’s Coconut Grove.

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La Brisa, a 6.9-acre Mediterranean estate in the Grove, is listed for $47.5 million with Nelson Gonzalez of EWM Realtors. Mr. Gonzalez said interest so far has come from developers looking to level the property and subdivide the land. STEPHAN GUARCH
Visitors view Biscayne Bay from a gazebo in the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami’s Coconut Grove. ALEXIA FODERE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
‘The Barge’ on display in the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. ALEXIA FODERE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
A statue in Coconut Grove ALEXIA FODERE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The centerpiece of the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is the Italianate villa built for businessman James Deering. ALEXIA FODERE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Yachts on the marina ALEXIA FODERE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
An organic farmer’s market in Coconut Grove in December. ALEXIA FODERE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Sandy Dufay, a retired healthcare company founder, at her 1928 villa in Coconut Grove. She is selling the home for $3.795 million with Mercedes Hernandez of Avatar Real Estate Services. ALEXIA FODERE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Ms. Dufay purchased the six-bedroom home in 2004 for $2.25 million, but she has lived in the Grove since the 1970s. ALEXIA FODERE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Ms. Dufay spent more than $500,000 to renovate the 4,800-square-foot home, adding an elevator and covering the grounds with tropical landscaping. She is seated with her Havanese dogs, Bentley and Chacha. ALEXIA FODERE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
A view of the living room ALEXIA FODERE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
A view of the deck at Ms. Dufay’s waterfront home, located in a gated community. ALEXIA FODERE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Ms. Dufay filled the home with an eclectic mix of furnishings, including decorative pieces from Bali and China. ALEXIA FODERE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The garden and pool area of Ms. Dufay’s home. ALEXIA FODERE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The pool area ALEXIA FODERE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The dining room ALEXIA FODERE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
A view of the garden and waterfront from the balcony. ALEXIA FODERE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The Venetian-style palazzo of billionaire developer Jorge Pérez in Coconut Grove ALEXIA FODERE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The former home of NBA star LeBron James in Coconut Grove. Mr. James sold the home for about $13.4 million in 2015, according to public records and listing agent Tomi Rose, making it one of the most expensive residential sales in the Grove. ALEXIA FODERE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The former home of pop star Madonna, who sold the home for $7.5 million in 2000, according to public records. ALEXIA FODERE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
A rendering of Park Grove, three towers on the bayfront in Coconut Grove designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and his firm OMA. Prices there exceed $1,900 a square foot for some units, setting a record for the city of Miami. The towers are being developed by Terra Group and Related. Prices range from $600,000 to $8 million. BLOOM IMAGES
La Brisa, a 6.9-acre Mediterranean estate in the Grove, is listed for $47.5 million with Nelson Gonzalez of EWM Realtors. Mr. Gonzalez said interest so far has come from developers looking to level the property and subdivide the land. STEPHAN GUARCH
Visitors view Biscayne Bay from a gazebo in the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami’s Coconut Grove. ALEXIA FODERE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Now Terra Group, along with Related Group, is building Park Grove, the nearby three-tower complex designed by well-known architect Rem Koolhaas and his firm OMA. The first two towers will be completed around winter 2017, but 95% of the units, priced from $600,000 to $5 million, have sold, said Pietro Belmonte of Douglas Elliman.

The final and most expensive tower, slated for completion in 2018, will have 54 units ranging from a $4 million three-bedroom to an $8 million apartment with five bedrooms, 6½ baths and a wraparound balcony. That translates to over $1,900 a square foot for some units. Related’s Mr. Pérez says he will personally curate a multimillion-dollar collection of contemporary art pieces and installations for Park Grove, including sculptures fromJaume Plensa and Richard Serra.

Buyers include Mr. Fernandez, founder of MBF Healthcare Partners, and Brazilian race car driver Emerson Fittipaldi. Mr. Fittipaldi, 68, says he is moving his family, along with a collection of Grand Prix race cars, from nearby Key Biscayne. He says he bought a 3,000-square-foot unit for $4.5 million at the new tower for the same reason many locals will: top-rated schools like Ransom Everglades, where tuition costs $34,550 a year.

Mr. Fernandez, 63, says he bought a two-story, 5,000-square-foot apartment with a private pool, as well as a two-bedroom unit for his daughter, for a total of roughly $10 million. “If I was 17, I would probably go to South Beach,” he says. “But Coconut Grove has a maturity to it that is [both] calm and exciting.” He plans to move from his current residence in nearby Coral Gables.

The housing market has risen rapidly in the last few years, says Michael Light of Miami Luxury Homes. For publicly listed condos and homes, the median sales price in the Grove was $675,000 in 2015, up 17.5% from 2014. Last year, NBA star LeBron James sold hisroughly 12,000-square-foot home in the Grove for $13.4 million, according to public records—one of the most expensive home sales in the village.

Nelson Gonzalez of EWM Realtors is listing La Brisa, the 6.9-acre estate with a circa 1920 mansion and over 200 feet of bay frontage. The only interest so far has come from developers looking to bulldoze and subdivide the land, Mr. Gonzalez says.

“Sometimes they go down so fast, I forget what was there” said historian Arva Moore Parks about the surge of demolitions. She recently campaigned to prevent a developer from leveling a historic Mediterranean home. According to the zoning department, there were about 45 requests for residential demolition in 2014, and most were approved. In 2015, there were 70.

Mr. Fort-Brescia has a few words of advice for newcomers looking to change the village. “You can’t let success take it over, because before you know it, we’re just like everybody else.”

Write to Stefanos Chen at stefanos.chen@wsj.com

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The Grove’s Imminent Renaissance

Dinner Key Marina
Dinner Key Marina
www.google.com

Coconut Grove is the oldest modern continuously inhabited neighborhood of Miami in Miami-Dade County settled in 1825 and annexed to the city in 1925; with its rich history, lush vegetation, spectacular bay views and sense of community, the “Grove” has seen many ups and downs when it comes to its culinary scene and popularity with locals and tourists alike.

Through the years Coconut Grove has been the “place to be” as well as ” a dead zone”; during the cocaine frenzy of the 80’s the Grove was notorious for being the neighborhood to go to, but all that debauchery made the area decline until Coco Walk and the Mayfair opened spots such as Planet Hollywood and Baja Beach Club, not precisely culinary meccas, but most definitely party spots and tourist traps. After that was said and done, the local club scene took a hit when legislation ordered to stop serving alcohol after 3 am, the neighborhood then became a quiet place and long forgotten were those horrible traffic blocks in the corner of Main Highway and Grand Avenue.

In the last 10-15 years, the Grove has remained a low key area with an island feel, the “Grovites” love their neighborhood and little by little it is starting to pick up again, now it is home to art galleries, independent shops and yoga studios which add to the overall laid back feel. Local restaurants like Jaguar, Peacock Garden, Lokal, Greenstreet and Bouchon in the Grove (to name a few) are always busy and have gained the trust and love of the local community.

Luxury condo developments such as Grove at Grand Bay and Park Grove are the buzz of the real estate world and have brought a massive wave of change to this bay side community. The old convention center was demolished to give way to more green areas, Dinner Key Marina is also undergoing a face-lift and the plan is to revamp the waterfront lot with more high scale restaurants and shops. Both ChefThomas Keller and Alain Ducasse have shown interest in Coconut Grove.

More concise plans are for Chef Michael Schwartz who is opening the new Harry’s Pizzeria and will have a restaurant inside the posh Park Grove condominium -currently under construction-. He feels that locals are ready for more upscale food choices and most can agree with this statement. Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli from Eating House will also open a new restaurant in Peacock Park called Glass House which is part of the redevelopment of the area.

With this said, it only takes a quick drive around Coconut Grove to witness the changes that are happening. Needless to say this is very exciting for Grovites and Miamians alike. It’s time.

From the Examiner.com

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Coconut Grove is the place to be! Look what is coming to the Grove!

Glass & Vine Rendering

GLASS & VINE

Location: 2820 MacFarlane Rd., Coconut Grove

Key Players: Giorgio Rapicavoli, Grove Bay Hospitality Group

Projected Opening: December

Situated inside Coconut Grove’s Peacock Park comes the newest restaurant concept from Giorgio Rapicavoli. The garden-style, contemporary American eatery situatied inside Coconut Grove’s Peacock Park will overlook the park, have a full service bar and a walkup counter for visitors

THE SPILLOVER

Location: 2911 Grand Avenue, Suite 400 D, Coconut Grove

Key Players: Matt Kuscher

Projected Opening:

Burger aficionado Matt Kuscher, the man behind neighboring LoKal and Kush, comes what he describes as “seafood version of Lokal,” with a menu filled with local seafood, wine, ciders, and meat.Like his other Coconut Grove spot there will also be plenty of outdoor, pet-friendly seating.

FARINELLI 1937

Location: 2901 Commodore Plaza, Coconut Grove

Key Players: Maurizio Farinelli

Projected Opening: Fall

Jumping on the wood-fired pizza trend is Farinelli in the Grove. From the same owners as the neighboring Strada in the Grove, the restaurant will not only serve an assortment of pizzas but salads, pastas and drinks.

 

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Coco walk Has Been Sold (article By Real Deal)

CocoWalk changed hands on Monday in a deal valued at $87.5 million, amid plans to redevelop the center with a new tenant mix.

Federal Realty Investment Trust, based in Rockville, Maryland, purchased an 80 percent interest in the 198,000-square-foot outdoor shopping center in Coconut Grove, along with local partners Grass River Property and The Comras Company, the firms announced.

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MIAMI’S SEASON

Miami’s Season

‘Tis the Season.  We often hear this at Christmas time but there is another time for this joyful statement and it is the time to come to enjoy the paradise that is South Florida. The weather this time of year is glorious. A great time to treat yourself to a respite in the warm sunshine of Miami: Coconut Grove, Miami Beach and Brickell Village. It’s a perfect time to look around to see what the area offers in terms of lifestyle and in sales and/or rentals of private or investment property.

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BRICKELL VILLAGE “THEN AND NOW”

Tequesta Indians (500AD-1795BC) settled the Brickell area located beside the Miami River and Biscayne Bay. Europeans arrived in the late 1700’s, and like the Tequesta’s, saw the wisdom of living in close to the water. This natural resource made it possible to maintain a system of “commerce” to ensure food, shelter, and income.

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COCONUT GROVE “THEN AND NOW”

The historic Coconut Grove community, one of South Florida’s oldest modern continuously inhabited neighborhoods, was established by several waves of immigration. Its roots trace back to the early 1800’s and the establishment of the Cape Florida Lighthouse manned by John Dubose. Horace P. Porter founded a post office and named it Coconut Grove: thus a village was named. Wealthy northeastern Americans and British, and white Bahamian immigrants came to the area.

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WONDERFUL COCONUT GROVE!

Coconut Grove, a delightful village on the shores of Biscayne Bay in Miami is full of great experiences. Quirky boutiques, sidewalk cafes, restaurants catering to a myriad of palates, art galleries, sailing, boardwalks along the Bay, and variety of community fairs and events that are scheduled throughout the year. We’ve listed a few of our favorites for you to savor.

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CHECK IT OUT

Using Feug Shui to Color Your World

We’ve heard so much about using feug shui when decorating our homes. I read a recent article about this Chinese art of placement and how it’s suggested use of color can have influence over our lives. In fact, in short, all feng shui is related to wealth – the “wealth” of good health, the “wealth” of opportunity, the “wealth” of love and happy relationships.

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IS THIS THE RIGHT TIME TO SELL?

Is Now the Right Time to Sell… to Buy…?

In America, surveys show that almost all aspire to own a home, especially those who are planning and raising families. Buying a home was determined to be more affordable than renting over the longer term. Sellers in those glory years, for the most part make a profit from their sale. 

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