Move over, South Beach. Miami’s downtown core is one of the fastest-growing destinations in the country. Florida’a population is growing at a rate of 900 people per day, second in the country only behind Texas. Within Florida, Brickell is the hotspot, with the most new construction condos, and nearly tripling its population between 2000 and 2016. The boom shows no signs of stopping.
According to the Miami Herald and Miami Downtown Development Authority’s 2018 report, downtown is now home to 92,000 people, and this is projected to grow to more than 109,000 residents by 2021.
Visitors are opting to stay here instead of the beach in greater numbers than ever too, thanks to hot new hotels like EAST, Miami, SLS Lux Brickell and W Miami. When the Mandarin Oriental, Miamiopened in 2000, it was a pioneer on Brickell Key, the first luxury property in the neighborhood, but now its stately elegance is joined by chic vibes at EAST, Swire Hotels’ first North American property. Paperless check-in, international cuisine and modern art installations appeal to a new generation of connected Millennial business travelers.
What’s driving this growth? An explosion of new build condominiums, trendy new bars and restaurants, business opportunities and the nearly perfect weather make Brickell especially appealing to a cosmopolitan, international crowd. Many new residents are Central and South American along with people fleeing the cold weather and high taxes in the northeast.
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Massive New Construction
Mixed-use development Brickell City Centre opened in November 2016, anchoring the neighborhood with a $1.05 billion mixed-use project, encompassing two condo towers, office buildings, 352-room hotel EAST, Miami and 500,000 square feet of shopping spanning nine acres. Miami-based Swire Properties Inc. has bet big on the neighborhood, developing other condominiums and apartments in Brickell corridor and Brickell Key too.
They’re received LEED Gold certification among other awards for the project’s sustainability features – most notably the Climate Ribbon elevated trellis which regulates air flow and temperature, maximizes natural light and collects rainwater for reuse.
Swire and Brickell City Centre paved the way for a slew of other developers, and according to the 2018 ISG World Miami Report, 91% of all new build condominiums in Brickell have already been sold. At Brickell City Centre, they’ve saved the best for last, recently releasing seven penthouses in each of their two condo towers for between $4-6 million apiece.
According to Swire’s senior vice president of residential sales, Maile Aguila, 85% of the buyers at Reach & Rise are international, from countries like Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Italy and Spain. “We created this neighborhood,” Aguila says matter-of-factly, and ISG World founder Craig Studnicky concurs.
“The catalyst for all of this growth was Brickell City Centre,” Studnicky says. “There was nothing here before. All you did was work here. I have tremendous respect for the vision and entrepreneurial risk that Swire took.” Condos like Brickell Heights, 1010 Brickell, 1100 Millecento and Brickell Flatiron have since capitalized on their success.
Convenience + Connectivity
Residents of the 43-story Reach & Rise duo of condominiums at Brickell City Centre are spoiled with the profusion of services and amenities at their fingertips. Each of the identical towers has its own hammam spa and massive amenity deck with barbecue grills, tropical gardens, children’s play room and outdoor fitness area.
The Brickell financial district honestly feels more like New York than Miami, with a similar ambition, fast-paced lifestyle and walkability. Everything you need to live, work, shop and relax can be found within a highly concentrated urban core.
Miami’s free Metromover has been a boon to the recent development, making the area more accessible for both residents and workers. One of the Metromover’s 21 stations is located right at Brickell City Centre and the connectivity and sprawling shopping center is reminiscent of the mega-shopping malls of Shanghai and Hong Kong. The Asian inspiration is not surprising, considering that Swire Properties is part of Hong Kong-based, publicly traded Swire Pacific Ltd. The model that’s worked so well in densely populated Asian metropolises has been implemented with great success here.
BCC has a remarkably well-curated selection of brands, including the first US locations for European brands like Acqua di Parma, Mirtoand Le Roy René. Mexico’s luxury theater brand CMX Cinemas launched its US operations here and has since rapidly expanded to a dozen locations across the country.
Downtown’s not just for shopping though. Just north of Brickell, Museum Park hosts music festivals and is home to two of Miami’s newest museums – Pérez Art Museum Miami and the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. The interactive science museum combines planetarium and three-level aquarium with natural history through engaging exhibits for kids of all ages, and adults too. Pretend you’re Matt Damon in The Martian during a surround sound outer space odyssey.
Next door, PAMM’s modern and contemporary art collections feature Miami-based artists like Lynne Golob Gelfman along with international exhibits like Hew Locke’s floating ships, a colorful and poignant representation of Miami’s history as a destination for immigrants reaching America by sea from the Caribbean and Central America.
Miami’s top spot for sushi is eight-seat NAOE on Brickell Key. The discreet omakase-only restaurant celebrates 10 years in March. Chef Kevin Cory serves sushi with his family’s own sake and soy sauce, eschewing endangered bluefin tuna in favor of kinmedai golden eye snapper, karasumi mullet roe and invasive local lionfish, a sweet and delicate bite of nigiri.
Several of Miami’s other popular restaurants, including Pubbelly Sushi and Casa Tua, have opened locations within Brickell City Centre. And Casa Tua’s only one of the two Italian food halls at BCC. The other, La Centrale, is even bigger, basically Eataly by another name, with a massive ground floor market with specialty imported groceries and restaurants specializing in pizza, pasta, seafood and vegetables on the second floor.
Look + Feel Your Best
With warm weather that requires your best beach body year-round, Brickell also helps residents look and feel their best with a first-rate offering of spas, salons and gyms – including two Equinox locations. Pop into the Caudalie boutique for a facial powered by grape water, reservatrol and powerful polyphenol antioxidants extracted from grape seeds and skins.
The Forbes five-star Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Miami is still the premier spa in downtown Miami, with a focus on oriental-inspired treatments in a truly restorative environment, along with facial treatments featuring Biologique Recherche. There are two split-level Mandarin Suites with multi-jet tubs overlooking Biscayne Bay.
Dock Your Yacht For Dinner
To be fair, this might not be a primary reason for moving, but it’s definitely a nice side effect of the Miami lifestyle. Zuma will cater on your yacht for a $5,000 minimum with 72 hours advance notice, including premium sake tasting, izakaya stations, mear carving, a raw bar and maki The modern Japanese menu is popular if predictable, with similarities to Nobu, Morimoto and Roka Akor. It’s the perfect kind of food to enjoy with a chilled glass of sake on the outdoor terrace while watching the sunset. Kiki on The River, The Standard’s Lido and Seaspice also offer docking services.