Bohemian or Business: Identities Collide in Miami’s Coconut Grove

Developers say they have no trouble finding office tenants even if prices in the Grove averages $ 52.48 per square foot for Class A space, compared to $ 43.54 in nearby Coral Gables, according to the office market of Avison Young Miami-Dade County Year End 2019 Report.

Sony Music Latin America and SapientNitro, an advertising firm, are among the companies that have moved or expanded their businesses in the Grove in the past five years.

Many residents cheer for the changes. Among them is Bernardo Fort-Brescia, who founded Arquitectonica four decades ago with his wife Laurinda H. Spear. They raised their six children in Miami as their company grew and gained an international reputation, and they have designed several projects around the city.

“It’s a natural evolution,” said Fort-Brescia. “More people want to live here, more companies want to be here.”

But real estate activities also caused unease in some quarters.

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

In some cases, short-term investors may sit in real estate waiting for its value to rise before turning it over. Some owners only offer short-term leases, Müllerat said, “which makes it difficult for companies to invest in their businesses.”

Property speculation and gentrification took place in the West Grove section, which was settled by Bahamian immigrants who worked in construction and agriculture. From the late 19th century, they built wooden-framed houses on courtyards that are now shaded by trees. Some houses have been in the same family for decades.

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