When people think of Miami’s beach culture, they likely focus on the three miles of shoreline along the heart of Miami Beach. What they may not realize is that this culture is spreading north, to previously suburban areas like Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale. This new growth results from the same secret sauce that has bolstered South Florida at large. These once-mild coastal townships are allowing new people, crafting model public spaces, funding forward-thinking infrastructure, and most importantly, letting builders build. The result is a fast-spreading, vertical brand of urbanism that has become the region’s trademark, and turned it into an ever-growing global destination.
Downtown Miami and South Beach
Of course, this beach culture still centers on Miami Beach, flailing out from there. Much of the growth–which throughout the region is often expressed via glassy luxury condos with teal and coral hues–lines the waterfront south of 5th street, complimenting SoBe’s older art deco motif. Miami Beach’s eastern shoreline, meanwhile, remains a night-and-day party on the sand.
But high-rise growth has more recently dominated the shoreline just across Biscayne Bay, in Miami proper. The highlight of the city’s relaxed ethos towards urbanization is Brickell, a neighborhood just south of downtown. As I wrote last year for National Review, this area turned in just 20 years from a sleepy low-rise business district and single-family neighborhood to a high-rise megazone that accommodates international banks, foreign consulates, and luxury condo buyers. The city allowed this rapid growth by putting enhanced infrastructure underground and at street level, and then–in a wild diversion from the policies in other U.S. cities–letting developers build upwards, largely unfettered. This has turned Brickell, too, into a 24/7 urban neighborhood with a residential population of 32,000.
Skyscrapers have spread to other parts of Miami’s shoreline, including downtown and Edgewater. It would be a stretch to call these areas beaches, since there’s little actual sand. But the city built parks and walkways along their shorelines that give the public waterfront access and full bay views.
To the North
But the real story is what’s happening north of Miami Beach. Aside from a few areas dedicated to state parkland, there is now essentially a contiguous urban shoreline extending from the southern tip of Miami Beach up to Fort Lauderdale (and many parts beyond, leading to Boca Raton and Palm Beach). And an awful lot of this area is becoming vertical.
According to a recent New York Times report, there are 83 new residential towers along Broward County’s 24-mile coastal strip. 44 of these are in Fort Lauderdale, which was long the more Americanized, suburban counterpart to Miami, yet is now growing upwards, with many longtime inland residents buying coastal waterfront condos as second homes. Adjacent to this is Hollywood, a once-seedy beach hub that has become a target for upscale Brazilian and Russian buyers. And other receiving areas include Sunny Isles and Hallandale Beach.