Downtown Miami and Brickell were among the earliest developed parts of South Florida. William Brickell and his wife, Mary, settled in southern Florida in 1871. The couple, who moved from Ohio, opened a trading post and post office along the Miami River. The Brickells and their family acquired extensive parcels of land stretching from Coconut Grove to the Miami River. Their friend and former Ohio neighbor, Julia Tuttle, convinced Henry Flagler to extend his railroad and business interests to the area, which resulted in the growth and development of Miami. By the early 1900’s, Brickell Avenue – the main north-south thoroughfare – became known as “Millionaire’s Row due to the construction of extravagant mansions by Mary Brickell and others.
A Global Economy (Locally)
Spurred by the development of early tycoons and pioneers, Brickell/Downtown quickly became the center of commerce and government in South Florida. With rapid urbanization over the decades, very little remains of the original character of the area save a sprinkling of historic buildings. Office towers, hotels, and apartment complexes eventually replaced the majority of mansions in the 1970’s. Over the last 15 years, Brickell/Downtown has transformed from a regional economic hub to a global finance capital, seat of county and international government, and center of large scale real estate development.
The rapidly-growing population consists primarily of young, South American and international residents who work in the financial, government, and real estate sectors. Brickell, in particular, is a highly-educated and affluent neighborhood where the average income is more than twice that of the greater city of Miami.
Cultural Oasis in an Urban Paradise
At the center of Brickell sits Mary Brickell Village, a popular gathering spot for locals and tourists featuring restaurants, upscale retail stores and boutiques. This complex, designed as a French Village, also features trendy nightclubs and galleries – ideal for socializing (and networking) among the international set. Downtown is home to most of the area’s public and private schools, featuring Miami Dade Community College’s Wolfson campus and the Miami Main Library. Downtown is also where the performing arts take center stage in the critically-acclaimed Adrienne Arsht Center. One of the world’s largest outdoor music events, the Ultra Music Festival, takes place at Bayfront Park. There are also a surprising number of parks and bay-front nature preserves, such as Alice Wainwright Park.
Brickell/Downtown is a pedestrian-friendly area – and not just because of the warm weather. With limited space for parking, public transportation is an essential part of this community’s lifestyle. The Metrorail and Metromover have convenient stations approximately every two blocks, with connections to the airport and regional Tri-Rail. Bicycles have also become a popular way of transportation with the advent of dedicated bike lanes and bike rental locations throughout the city.
Condo Market Hot as the Weather?
Today the Brickell/Downtown area is home to some of Miami’s most expensive and luxurious high rise residential towers. Among them are the Four Seasons, Axis, Jade, ICON, Espirito Santo, and Epic. Increasing numbers of South American, Russian, European, and Chinese investors have directed capital into Brickell/Downtown real estate. This has sparked a second construction boom, currently underway, featuring lavish developments changing the Miami skyline including Brickell City Centre, Paramount Miami Worldcenter, SkyRise Miami, One Thousand Museum, and Echo Brickell. The outlook for the area’s condo market is strong with rising prices and increased inventory. Condo median sales prices increased to $217,400 for the area as of 3Q 2015, while total sales dropped slightly due to fewer distressed sales.