Launch Slideshow

Coral Gables, Fla.

Coral Gables, Fla.

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    Jose Silva / Tom Spain

    Coral Gables Museum
    Architect: Jorge L. Hernandez Architect, Coral Gables
    Completion: 2009
    Cost: $5 million
    Size: 20,000 s.f.
    Built in 1936, the former police and fire station will become a LEED-certified museum of the city.

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    Alex Gort Jr. / Gort Productions

    55 Merrick
    Architect: Fullerton Diaz Architects, Coral Gables
    Completion: 2008
    Cost: $80-$100 million
    Size: 661,000 s.f.
    The mixed-use project includes office and retail space and 167 condos.

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    Domenech

    Kettal Showroom
    Architect: Mateu Architecture, Palmetto Bay/Miam
    Completion: 2007
    Cost: $900,000
    Size: 7,500 s.f.
    Spanish outdoor furniture maker's first U.S. store earned Miami AIA 2007 Award of Merit. Firm's previous work in city led to crafting of Coral Gables' Mediterranean design code.

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    JOSE SILVA/TOM SPAIN

    Old Spanish Village
    Architect: Jorge L. Hernandez Architect (master plan), Coral Gables
    Completion: 2009-2011
    Cost: $250 million
    Size: seven acres
    Project includes 38 townhomes and 172 apartments.

Home to the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Fla., is one of the greenest headquarters cities in the nation, with a rich canopy of banyans, oaks, and other lush trees. “More than 30 percent of the city's land area is actually open space, ranging from competitive golf courses to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden to beautiful parks,” notes Cathy Swanson Rivenbark, Coral Gables' director of development.

And if city leaders have their way, it might become one of the greenest cities in terms of sustainable building. “We are now working on facilitating and expediting the approval processes—including permitting—for LEED buildings,” says Mayor Don Slesnick. “This doesn't make it a requirement, but it provides a clear incentive.”

The city has always taken development seriously. Founded in 1925 by developer George Merrick, who also assisted in the creation of the University of Miami through the donation of land and money, Coral Gables is one of the nation's first fully planned communities.

It continues to focus on livability today. “We specifically chose to relocate our practice to Coral Gables because of its history and its focus on design and planning, which says a lot about the city as a draw for designers,” says Joseph Andriola, vice president and principal of SB Architects, whose 55-person office was previously headquartered in nearby Miami.

“The mixture of uses makes it wonderful for our employees,” Andriola continues, “while the address is attractive from a business standpoint. It is a true live-work environment, a rarity in Florida.”

Population/Employment

The city of nearly 43,000 has grown by only a few hundred souls since 2000. Regional job growth: 3.5 percent per year.

Office Market

In 2007, Class A space rented for $40/s.f., full-service gross, on 6.5 percent vacancy.

Residential Market

Average home sales price in 2007: $850,000.

Market Strengths

  • Strong sense of place
  • Diverse economy: local businesses, corporate HQs, and the University of Miami
  • City-led emphasis on LEED

Market Concerns

  • Preservation vs. growth
  • Tough zoning requirements
  • Housing affordability

Forecast

“In 10 years we'll see an even more pedestrian-friendly, community-oriented city,” predicts Fullerton Diaz Architects partner John Fullerton. “Achievement of these visions goes back to growing responsibly, with specific attention to the history and architectural style that permeate the city.”