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Coral Gables; The City Beautiful Still Lives Up to its Name

May 05, 2011 By Carlos Miller in Miami: Local News  | 7 Comments

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While Coral Gables has long maintained an air of exclusivity, it can be more affordable than some of the high-rise condominiums dotting South Beach and Brickell Avenue these days.

And it certainly has more history.

It is, in fact, one of the nation’s first planned communities; a municipality developed by George Merrick in the 1920’s in the Mediterranean Revival architectural style that was popular at the time.

In other words, “The City Beautiful”, as it is nicknamed, lacks the static cookie-cutter style that comes with most modern planned communities.

It is also home to some of the best restaurants in South Florida as well as the luxurious Biltmore Hotel, historical Venetian Pool and the University of Miami.

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Above: The Biltmore Hotel was modeled after the Giralda Tower in Spain when it was built in 1926. Today, it is one of the most luxurious hotels in Florida as well as a historical landmark.

Unlike Brickell (and sometimes South Beach), which can give off a vibe of nouveau riche, the Gables has always had an air of old money about it.

“Coral Gables is in a lot of ways a bit more sophisticated or grown up than South Beach or Brickell,” said Janie Coffey, a real estate agent that specializes in the area.

“While there are plenty of younger people, there is a larger range in age. And there is a larger range in dining with fewer bars and clubs which don’t stay open at night as late.”

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Above: The Venetian Pool was built in 1924 and is a historic landmark.

Rental Costs

Coffey said the average rent for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo near Miracle Mile, Coral Gables’ business district, runs between $1,500 to $1,700 a month.

Meanwhile, the average rent on Brickell Avenue runs between $1,800 to $2,000 while on South Beach it runs between $1,900 to $2,100.

But those are just averages. As on South Beach, you can find something for less than a $1.000.

However, in the Gables, you will get more for your money because you’re not paying for the beach within walking distance.

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Above: The Granada Entrance, which can be found on Southwest Eight Street and Granada Blvd, is another historical landmark.

Michelle Catin, who works at rbb Public Relations in the Gables, moved to the area from Miramar two years ago to cut down on commute times.

She said during her search, she found decent one-bedroom units for as low as $800-a-month.

“You just have to take the time to drive around the Gables and take note of apartments that are renting,” she said.

“I currently pay within the $800-$1000 range for a fully refurbished one bedroom apartment in a very good location.

“And by fully refurbished I mean stainless steel appliances, granite kitchen counter, crown molding and one of those fancy bathroom bowl-shaped sinks. On the high-end a one bedroom would probably start at $1,500-$2,000.”

“I can’t imagine living anywhere else,” said Catin. “It’s small-town living in the very center of Miami.

“I can walk down to Miracle Mile and I have great restaurants at my disposal. There is always something to do.”

Plus, it’s central location makes it easily accessible to Miami International Airport, which is only four miles away, and downtown Miami, which is about six miles away. Miami Beach is just over ten miles away.

Even though most people view Coral Gables as a Miami-Dade neighborhood, it is actually a city with a population of more than 42,000 residents.

It used to be almost exclusively Anglo American, but that began changing in the 1980s when Miami’s Cuban population moved into the power ranks.

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Above: The Church of the Little Flower, built in 1926, is one of the oldest Catholic churches in South Florida.

Today, Coral Gables is mostly Hispanic but most will speak English, which might not happen in other parts of Miami-Dade.

Strict Regulations

While almost anything goes in South Beach, Coral Gables has some of the strictest regulations for living there.

For example, residents are barred from having pickup trucks parked in front of their houses overnight, a law that was appealed and upheld in court a few years ago.

There are also strict regulations on what color residents can paint their houses and when they take their garbage out. And city officials are now considering a ban on leaf blowers.

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Property taxes are said to be higher than in other parts of the county, but not by much, according to some residents.

“I think actual cost of living is comparable to Brickell but less than South Beach or Coconut Grove,” said Douglas Clark, who owns a home with his wife. “I know our taxes are not excessive compared to City of Miami.”

Blanca Estella Mejia, a social media consultant who also owns a home in the Gables, agreed.

“The millage rate for taxes is not as high as other municipalities,” she said. “There is a perception that taxes are higher, but the reason that taxes are higher is the valuation of the properties.”

Mejia also doesn’t mind the strict regulations.

“People in the past complained about the rules of keeping everything clean, like if you don’t cut the grass, the city will and then bill you, but that is what keeps it clean and beautiful,” she said.

“Whenever my alarm goes off by accident and I forget to tell the alarm company, the police come in an instant. I feel very secure here.”

All photos by Carlos Miller

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Above: Waterfalls at Venetian Pool

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Above: The top of the Biltmore Hotel

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Related Categories: Miami: Local News,

Carlos Miller is a featured writer at Miami Beach 411. He also operates Photography is Not a Crime, a blog about photographer rights, New Media and First Amendment issues.

See more articles by Carlos Miller.

See more articles by Carlos Miller

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7 Comments on

"Coral Gables; The City Beautiful Still Lives Up to its Name"

Under the Sun says:

Great stuff !

For a homeowner or home renter, Coral Gables has all other communities in Miami beat.

Posted on 05/05/2011 at 10:00 AM

Maria de los Angeles says:

Great article, Carlos. I live one block away from city limits in South Miami and I agree it is a great place to live.

Coral Gables is also home to two amazing places, Matheson Hammock Park and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. There’s also a historic pioneer cemetery by Sunset Drive and Erin Road is where we’ll find the still standing home of the Wagner family which helped pioneer this area before Merrick.

Posted on 05/05/2011 at 1:10 PM

Doug says:

Not only is the story great, but so are the photos! Coral Gables seems like it would be a great place to live.  My only problem with it is that it seems a little over-policed.  Whenever I’m walking around there, I always notice people getting pulled over all the time there.

Posted on 05/06/2011 at 1:26 PM

bathroom repairs says:

Wow, it’s lovely river I love water swimming. I have done river rafting that was so dangerous but have a lot of fun. Keep sharing !!

Posted on 12/05/2012 at 2:12 AM

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