Property buyers from around the world have shown their appreciation for Florida for decades, notably South Americans and Europeans, making it their top US destination last year.
More recently, wealthy North Americans have joined them, lured by Florida’s favourable tax regime with no state income or estate duties.
President Donald Trump is the most high-profile arrival, swapping high-tax New York for Palm Beach in Florida as his primary residence.
The state’s population grows at a rate of 902 people every day and in Miami’s exciting new neighbourhood of Brickell the population has increased by 20 per cent in less than 10 years.
“Brickell is our Manhattan, much cheaper than New York but with a quality of life just as good and with better weather,” suggests David Siddons from Knight Frank’s Florida associates. “It is multicultural and entrepreneurial with great new restaurants, amazing nightlife and real energy.”
High-rise Brickell overlooks Biscayne Bay and is Miami’s urban core, 15 minutes from both the airport and PAMM modern art museum.
Originally it was purely a business centre, filled with the banks that make Miami the second largest financial centre in America behind Wall Street.
But today it is a true live-work-play neighbourhood with good public transport, excellent shops including a large Whole Foods, gyms, restaurants and bars.
The credit for its transformation lies largely with Swire, a London and Hong Kong-based company which started developing homes on elegant Brickell Key in the Nineties.
Its latest project is Brickell City Centre, a hugely impressive £766 million mixed-use development linking a shopping centre anchored by Saks, two residential towers, EAST Hotel and two fully leased office buildings.
“Twenty years ago Miami was all about South Beach but that’s changed,” says Craig Studnicky, chief executive of sales agency ISG. “Today young professionals and those in tech start-ups want to live in the urban core and that means Brickell.”
From £495,000: elegant, modern apartments in the Reach and Rise tower blocks in Brickell come with balconies, parking and shared pool, gardens and gyms
Studnicky is selling elegant, modern flats at Reach and Rise, Swire’s completed residential towers each with 390 homes.
The one- to four-bedroom homes are well finished with high ceilings and share stand-out facilities including pools and pool decks, gyms, gardens and lounges.
The remaining homes for sale start from £495,000 for 1,100sq ft, all with balconies and parking.
Knight Frank placed Miami second in its Prime Forecast Report for 2020, predicting price increases of five per cent thanks to “continued momentum from state and land tax deduction”.
In Brickell Key, a beautiful sixth-floor resale apartment built in 2002 directly on the water with two bedrooms and annual maintenance of £5,500 is £607,000.
Recently completed Brickell Flatiron is the tallest building in Miami, 64 floors with 527 one- to four-bedroom apartments priced from £458,000 for sale through Savills.
“Half of all Miami resale condos bought in 2018 were in Brickell,” concludes Studnicky. “People are coming for a reason. Miami is the number one US city for tech start-ups with Brickell as the focus. It offers value and convenience with homes up to one third the price of those in South Beach.”
THE UNDERLINE: A NEW URBAN PARK
Miami has beaches but a surprisingly small amount of green space, a problem resident Meg Daly has worked tirelessly to solve.
After breaking both arms in a bike accident, she walked daily beneath the Metrorail to physio sessions and realised the dark, dirty space was ripe for transformation.
With a team of mostly volunteers Meg is creating a 10-mile urban park with outdoor gyms, basketball courts, art parks, 20 butterfly gardens and picnic tables.
The first section, from Brickell directly underneath Swire’s Rise Tower to 13th Street, opens this summer.
“The Underline will be a world-class linear park very much based on New York’s High Line which should help with transport, road safety and health issues,” says Meg, 59. “The only concrete will be on the cycle paths, all lighting will be SMART and we are adding 4,000 canopy trees. I hope the space will become the heart and soul of the community.”
The Underline is a £91 million project and already Meg and her team have raised close to 90 per cent of construction costs.
KEY MIAMI EVENTS
Miami has a packed annual events calendar from fireworks over the bay at New Year through to Art Basel Miami Beach in early December.
A highlight of 2020 comes in early February when the city hosts the 54th Super Bowl, one of the biggest dates in the US sporting year.
There is also an annual Boat Show, Coconut Grove Arts Festival and Miami Open Tennis, now in its new world-class home at Hard Rock Stadium.