Despite recent negative trends in real estate, Coral Gables continues to thrive.
By Sally Gales
“Coral Gables continues to be one of the most desirable residential markets in the country.”
Coral Gables, otherwise known as the City Beautiful, is located in the heart of Miami. Developed by George Merrick in the 1920s, it is a community built in a grand Mediterranean Revival architectural style that complements its beautiful surroundings. The city is known for its wide, tree-lined avenues, monumental buildings, winding roadways, green space, ornate plazas, and unique waterways. As one of the most prestigious cities in South Florida, it is no wonder that ultra-luxury homes here continue to prosper in spite of the fluctuating real estate market.
“When we hear or read about market trends, we often forget that trends are largely based on a median market, which is well below the price of the average Coral Gables home and certainly inferior to high-end and waterfront properties,” says Tere Bernacé of Shelton & Associates Realtors, an exclusive real estate boutique specializing in luxury residential properties in areas like the Gables and other South Florida communities.
Coral Gables is by no means an average city.
“Coral Gables continues to be one of the most desirable residential markets in the country,” says Mayi de la Vega, the founder and co-owner of Stewart de la Vega Group, whose office is in the heart of the opulent community. Her lengthy credentials and love of the city make her a connoisseur of luxury living in South Florida. “Located in the epicenter of Miami-Dade County, Coral Gables is home to some of the most affluent people of South Florida and Latin America…it remains a hot commodity!”
Known as Miami’s “Woman on the Top” of the real estate industry, Audrey Ross adds, “The luxury market in Coral Gables has essentially remained ‘steady as you go’ for those properties above $5 million, with some prices increasing. I would simply say, at the luxury price point of $5 million-plus, the market remains brisk.”
Realtor Lizzie Padro concurs. Last year, she sold a $6 million residence in Snapper Creek Lakes in Coral Gables. Currently, she says, “All of the properties I have for sale are the best quality and price in their respective areas. Perhaps the most unique is a trophy parcel of three-and-a-half acres in Gables Estates with almost 400 feet of waterfront, a deep boat basin, and forever long water views of the Casuarinas Waterway.” The estate is listed at $15.9 million.
For luxury homebuyers, the unique benefits of living in Coral Gables merit the high price tag. The area is the center for big money corporations, high-end restaurants, South Florida’s finest jewelers, award-winning European and domestic furniture manufacturers, world-renowned bridal shops, and designer boutiques. And, perhaps most importantly, residents have the satisfaction of knowing they live in one of the world’s most elite communities.
Another key factor buoying the Coral Gables real estate market is that each property is one of a kind. Bernacé explained that this is “precisely one of the factors that has contributed to the resilience of the high-end market-each home is unique and will have a special appeal for a particular buyer. When high-end buyers find the home that exactly suits their needs, price becomes less of an issue.”
Coral Cove, located at 6312 Riviera Drive, is a prime example of this distinction. The five-bedroom, 11 bathroom stunner is listed for $22 million, a price that also includes a private island in Biscayne Bay (Coral Cay). “It is an outstanding 1937 classic designed by Phineas Paist, a famed architect in his day who was related to George Merrick. The house is one of Paist’s last works. It combines the charm and grace of a bygone era with the comforts of today,” says Ross.
The 11,203-square-foot property sits on one-and-a-half acres of prime real estate, and provides the ultimate in comfort and luxury. “One can easily envision a Great Gatsby party going on in this house,” says Ross. “There’s an outdoor dance floor, an Olympic size swimming pool, and gorgeous tennis court, all strung along the most picturesque waterway of Coral Gables.”
Another must-see home is in the heart of historic Coral Gables. The three-acre waterfront estate is “the largest and most private waterfront estate available today,” according to de la Vega. Alfred Browning Parker, a mid-century modern architect, designed the 10,000-square-foot home. The eight-bedroom, seven-bathroom estate sits on lush, private grounds enclosed by coral rock walls. Some of the property’s amenities include a lit tennis court, pool, and screened porch. Bids for the1951 gem start at $12.5 million.
Even homes that are not on the market are affected by their location in such an in-demand locale. Ross explained that one of the largest transactions she completed in the last 12 months was a home in Gables Estates. It was an unusual situation because the home was not initially for sale. Ross approached the owner of the home on behalf of the buyer, and ended up representing both parties. The house sold for $16 million, a win-win-win situation for buyer, seller, and agent.
In addition to historic estates and grandiose properties, the Coral Gables market continues to develop with an eye to the future. The Grove Residences in the Park is a sophisticated residential concept found at 4055 Douglas Road. “It will be the premier luxury community where architecture, quality, and privacy come together to provide an exclusive enclave of nine homes and two bay front residences,” says de la Vega. The property sits on seven-and-a-half acres of waterfront property and is an exciting addition to the Gables real estate market. De la Vega goes on to say, “It will offer a new concept of single-family living, envisioned by world-renowned art collector and philanthropist Ella Fontanals Cisneros. This gated community will set a new standard.”
The ultra-luxe market of South Florida is flourishing, and broker Rex Hamilton has had the chance to watch it grow for the past 23 years. He represents amazing properties throughout South Florida, but a standout is the Manor House on Sunset Point. The beautiful property comes complete with its own island. Hamilton says, “To be able to control a nine-acre island with easy access is truly extraordinary. It has remained under one family’s control for three generations, and now is on offer to the next lucky family or individual seeking absolute privacy and the bliss of unobstructed 360-degree views from the elevated manor house and pool.” Although not in Coral Gables, with 4,000-feet of waterfront, this is a rare find even in its elite class.
The Gables has long been known for its high standard of living, a reputation that will continue to grow as new developments abound among the historical properties that are testaments to mid-century elegance. Recession? Not in the City Beautiful, where property values are only going up.