THE NEW YORK TIMES: Bohemian or Business: Identities Collide in Miami’s Coconut Grove

March 24, 2020

The city’s development boom has finally caught up to a lush haven of shade trees and cafes. Some worry the neighborhood growth is too fast.

CocoWalk, an open-air mall in Miami’s Coconut Grove neighborhood, is scheduled to reopen this year after a makeover. Angel Valentin for The New York Times

By March 24, 2020, 9:00 a.m. ET

With its profusion of parks and shade trees, Coconut Grove is celebrated for being one of the greenest parts of sun-baked Miami.

It has some of the best schools in the city, drawing students from all over the metropolitan area. And it has long been a magnet for artists, writers and musicians who have given the neighborhood a bohemian vibe.

But lately, Coconut Grove has become known for yet another thing: a real estate boom.

The area did not experience much of the pre-recession wave of development that swept other Miami neighborhoods. But now, luxury residential towers by renowned modernist architects have been rising in Coconut Grove along Biscayne Bay, a snazzy hotel recently opened, and a well-known shopping center is getting a makeover.

And boutique office buildings are going up, attracting brand-name tenants in the tech, finance and creative industries.

The office square footage is a small fraction of that of nearby Brickell or downtown Miami, but the development is occurring in an area under six square miles, much of it zoned for low- and midrise construction.

The fast pace of growth and gentrification is pushing out longtime residents. And it is raising a question about the neighborhood’s identity: Can the Grove grow without losing its groove?

Juan Mullerat, the founding principal of PlusUrbia Design, which worked with Perkins & Will, a global design firm, on a master plan for the business improvement district a few years ago, expressed concern about vacant storefronts.

In some cases, short-term investors may be sitting on properties, waiting for their value to rise before flipping them. Some owners are offering only short-term leases, Mr. Mullerat said, “making it difficult for businesses to make investments in their stores.”

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