A small enclave tucked between Surfside and Bal Harbor on the east and North Miami on the west, Bay Harbour Islands was once home to the largest concentration of mid-century Miami Modern (MiMo) style architecture in the country.
Many of the low-slung condo and apartment buildings in Bay Harbor’s East Island (where only multi-family and commercial structures are allowed) have some of Miami’s most renowned architects behind them. In fact, one could argue Morris Lapidus, Henry Hohauser and Charles McKirahan were the first true starchitects in the Magic City, transforming Miami’s architectural Art Deco style in the 1930s into the MiMo designs that emerged in the middle of the 20th Century.
McKirahan was the mastermind who designed the Bay Harbor Continental, a wedge-shaped co-op building anchored by a pylon-like staircase built in 1948. McKirahan’s masterpiece featured multi-story brise-soleils accented with blocks of multi-colored glass. He also designed the Bay Harbor Club, a blue two-story waterfront building with V-shaped beanpole columns that run from the ceiling to the ground that was the home of the lead character in the cable TV series Dexter.
Signs of Change
Once the National Trust for Historic Preservation named East Island to its annual list of the “11 Most Endangered Historic Places” in America in 2014, it signaled the beginning of a significant redevelopment push in Bay Harbor. Today dozens of MiMo style buildings have met or are destined for the wrecking ball as existing condo owners seek to cash out by voting as a bloc to sell their buildings to developers, introducing a new luxury concept to wealthy buyers: boutique living.
“Bay Harbor Islands is super cozy hidden gem,” said Claudio Stivelman, CEO of S2 Development. “It is very well located. It is small. And it has all the goodies such as waterfront views, an excellent school, being close to the beach and being close to Bal Harbour Shops.”
The coziness gives Bay Harbor a real sense of community, Stivelman said. That’s why S2 Development was one of the first builders to enter the Bay Harbor submarket.
The company is developing O Residences, a 41-unit building that is offering 1,060- to 1,450-square-foot condos for $700,000 to $1.2 million. Demolition of the old building at 9821 East Bay Harbor Drive began in January. According to Stivelman, S2 has already signed contracts or collected deposits for 36 units.
“Bay Harbor is a very nice place where it is feasible to do a small cozy building,” Stivelman said. “For buyers who cannot pay $3 million to $4 million in South Beach, they can find a quality luxury condo for $1 million or less in Bay Harbor.”
Developers have pretty much gobbled up all the waterfront land in East Island and are now looking at dry lots and buildings, said Eduardo Pruna, sales director for Bijou Bay Harbor, a seven-story luxury condo with 41 units ranging from 900 square feet to 2,000 square feet, with prices starting at about $530 per square foot. “When we bought the land for Bijou a year-and-a-half ago, we paid $9 million,” Pruna said. “There are about 12 to 13 dry lots and buildings that are being traded right now.”
A free shuttle service runs from Monday through Friday, beginning at 9 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m. The route includes stops in Surfside and North Miami. Miami-Dade County also provides public bus routes within close proximity of Bay Harbor Islands. The Broad Causeway is the only one main road in Bay Harbor Islands, connecting commuters to Collins Avenue on the east and Biscayne Boulevard on the west.
Most expensive residential sale
9800 West Broadview Drive, a 6,904-square-foot home with five bedrooms and six-and-a-half bathrooms sold for $5.5 million in December 2015
Residential broker’s take
“Bay Harbor Islands is an extremely well-located neighborhood that offers an amazing lifestyle. It;s a place that lets you escape the hustle and bustle of Miami and Miami Beach,” Ivan Ramirez, president of Crescendo Real Estate
Demographic changes from 2000 to 2015
Population: 6,007 up 6.7% from 2010 and up 9.3% from 2000
Median age: 44
Median income: $129,965
Average household net worth: $563,168
Median sales price per square foot: $308, 43 percent higher compared to the rest of Miami-Dade County
Increase in average rent over the last year: 20% to $3,245
Most expensive home on the market
9410 West Broadview Drive, a 9,251-square-foot waterfront home with five bedrooms, six full bathrooms, and three half-bathrooms for $13.7 million
Least expensive home on the market
Unit 70D, 10070 East Bay Harbor Drive, 790-square-foot unit with two bedrooms and one bathroom for $154,000
Bay Harbor Islands is in the midst of massive redevelopment, with at least 26 projects in the planning or construction stages. Among them, in late December, Congress BHN LLC, a company tied to the Boston-based development firm the Congress Group, paid a combined $5.52 million for the 12 units at Harbor View in Bay Harbor Islands. Congress — which has acquired, developed, repositioned or managed more than 7 million square feet of real estate valued at more than $1.5 billion, according to its website — plans to develop the site into a luxury condo building.
In February, South American firm Allure Development Group, purchased two development lots at 1055 92nd Street and 1047 92nd Street for $4.4 million. Allure is planning to do a building with up to 30 condo units in a seven-story structure. The developers have hired Frankel Benayoun Architects, which had designed a previously approved project on the two sites, to design the new project.
Last week, townhouse project Palm Villas at 9870-9880 East Bay Harbor Drive launched sales and expects to break ground in May. LDG is co-developing Palm Villas in conjunction with Team 18, the lead developers of Kai, another project in Bay Harbor Islands. The townhouses will range from 2,300 square feet to 3,000 square feet, with prices from $990,000 to $1.3 million, or an average of $450 per square foot. LDG is also developing Bay Harbor One, an eight-story, 36-unit development that is more than 40 percent under contract, and that will also break ground in May.
Other projects underway include the seven-story, 15-residence Pearl House and the seven-story, 30-unit Le Jardin, both under development by Verzasca Group.
With so many new projects on the table, Crescendo’s Ramirez convinced many of the new developers in Bay Harbor to form the Island Living Council. The council will allow builders to pool their advertising and marketing efforts, Ramirez told The Real Deal. “The broker community doesn’t know about Bay Harbor Islands because it’s all small boutique projects,” Ramirez said. “They don’t get the exposure that big projects get. The only way to really market Bay Harbor was to join forces. We can now drive buyer traffic together.”