Archive for the 'Miami and Coral Gables Living' Category

Merry Christmas from Miami and Coral Gables

posted on December 25th, 2012 filed under: Miami and Coral Gables Living

Coral Gables Real Estate Photos -- Christmas Pic (Nativity)

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Fourth of July Fireworks Return to Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables

posted on July 4th, 2012 filed under: Miami and Coral Gables Living

Happy Independence Day to all.

Coral Gables Real Estate Photos -- Biltmore Fireworks 5

Fireworks returned to the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables for the first time in several years.  The tradition fell to budget cuts but returned for at least this year, thanks in part to institutional sponsorship by Bacardi and the University of Miami.  It was a great show and the Biltmore seemed to have drawn a lot of guests in addition to the local crowd.  Let’s hope it can become an annual event again.

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Must Be High Season

posted on February 21st, 2012 filed under: Miami and Coral Gables Living

No shortage of things to do in Miami in February.  You couldn’t go anywhere without stumbling onto some event this Presidents’ Day weekend . . . .

  • The inaugural Art Wynwood International Contemporary Art Fair filled the streets of Miami’s current bohemia in Wynwood, where artists go to struggle these days
  • The Coconut Grove Arts Festival filled the streets of Miami’s erstwhile bohemia, where real estate values are way too high and the ambiance way too conventional for those artists who truly struggle
  • The Miami International Boat Show stoked the imaginations of buyers and gawkers alike

Miami Beach Real Estate Photos -- Miami International Boat Show 2012 (1)

  • The University of Miami Hurricanes baseball team led off its 2012 season in fine form with a 3-game sweep of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, including a 12-inning nail-biter in Game 2 that saw both teams blow bases-loaded opportunities to break a 1-1 tie.

Coral Gables Real Estate Photos -- UM Univ Miami Hurricanes Baseball 2012

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Miami Has Seasons Too

posted on October 23rd, 2011 filed under: Miami and Coral Gables Living

The seasons are subtler variations in Miami than up north, but they are real.  Seems like someone flipped a switch and officially ended summer on October 15.  In the first 15 days of October, there were only 2 days below 85 F.  Since the 15th, we haven’t seen that mark again.  Nighttime lows in the cool 60s underlined the point.  But after two rainy weekends, the sunny skies and tepid temps were like a blank canvas for the art of outdoor fun.

All of which set the mood for events that seemed in tune with the approach of winter — otherwise known as high season — when snowbirds migrate just to remain in shirt sleeves and only the vacationers think of wearing a bathing suit at the beach.  Miami and Coral Gables assume an air of sporty sophistication rather than summer sultriness.

The weekend’s opening of the Coral Gables Museum was celebrated by those who helped make it possible.  And the Wynwood art fair celebrated those who make just about anything.

Miami Real Estate Photos -- Wynwood Art Fair 2011 -- Pic 1

Attendees were encouraged to make their mark.

Miami Real Estate Photos -- Wynwood Art Fair 2011 -- Pic 2

Other harbingers of winter include the DWNTWN Miami concert series, which kicked off October 14.

Miami Real Estate Photos -- DWNTWN Concert Series -- 2011 to 2012

Dates for the rest of the DWNTWN series: November 11, December 9, January 13, February 10 and April 13.  Performers TBA.

High season and high culture are synonomous, and the events become increasingly haute as the temperature becomes increasingly bas.  Miami Beach brings another installment of Sleepless Night on November 5, followed by Art Basel on December 1-4.  If you haven’t got your day cravats out of storage by then, you’ll never amount to anything.

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Giant Pink Snails Invade Coral Gables

posted on February 11th, 2011 filed under: Miami and Coral Gables Living

Giant pink snails descended on Miami Beach during Art Basel.  Hooligans apparently made life uncomfortable for the gastropods, so they migrated west to the more subdued environs of Coral Gables.

Here’s one outside the new Coral Gables Museum:

Coral Gables Real Estate Photos -- Pink Snails

The sculptures are made of recycled plastic, and are the work of the Italian collaborative Cracking Art Group.

Check out the snails’ original home in Milano.

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Coral Gables Country Club Opens for Event Business

posted on December 11th, 2010 filed under: Miami and Coral Gables Living

The Coral Gables Country Club at 997 Alhambra Circle has re-opened for event bookings.  The facility’s new cafe opened about six months ago, and the pool and gym re-opened soon after.

Coral Gables Real Estate Photos -- Coral Gables Country Club Exterior (1)

The facility, owned by the City of Coral Gables, was substantially renovated about ten years ago using the proceeds of hundreds of “lifetime” (really more like 20-year) memberships.  Those lifetime members each lost their $10,000 to $15,000 when the club closed after the relationship between the old manager and the city soured.

Coral Gables Real Estate Photos -- Coral Gables Country Club Exterior (2)

The new club’s business model appears to be very different.  As presented to the city, the operation was to resemble the old club, with a restaurant, a gym, a pool and event spaces.  The main difference was supposed to be that the restaurant would be open to the public (it was only for members before).  As it turns out, there is no restaurant.  Only the small cafe is truly public.  (The gym and pool still require memberships.)

The look and feel of the interior has been changed from traditional to modern.  It’s a rather shocking design, considering that the City of Coral Gables is renowned for its strict regulation of renovations to properties with historic architecture.  Owners of historic homes in Coral Gables face tough scrutiny when they want to make alterations.

Coral Gables Real Estate Photos -- Coral Gables Country Club Interior (2)

The Coral Gables Country Club is one of the city’s oldest and most historically significant buildings.  It served as a sales center for city founder George Merrick when he was touting the promise of paradise.  The idea that Coral Gables would allow this to be done to its own property is bizarre.

Coral Gables Real Estate Photos -- Coral Gables Country Club Interior (1)

Nothing like a faux-wood stripe in black marble to signify elegance, eh?

The interior design is only superficial, of course, and can be restored to something more appropriate someday.  In the meantime, design students have somewhere to go to study what “hideous” and “inappropriate” mean.

Opulence.  I has it.

Coral Gables Real Estate Photos -- Coral Gables Country Club Interior (4)

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Donations Sought for Repairs to Alhambra Water Tower in Coral Gables

posted on November 19th, 2010 filed under: Miami and Coral Gables Living

Everybody loves the Alhambra Water Tower in Coral Gables.  It’s one of the city’s most iconic landmarks.

Coral Gables Real Estate Photos -- Alhambra Tower & Blooming Mimosa 3

In 2006-07, Coral Gables and the State of Florida together spent about $700,000 repairing the facade after the active 2005 hurricane season.  But apparently it needs more repair work just because of its age.  The Save the Alhambra Water Tower Project is seeking donations to complement a $200,000 commitment from the city.

From a real estate perspective, property values in north Coral Gables depend on maintenance of the many beautiful public landmarks that dot the landscape.  The north side of Coral Gables is where most of the city’s historic features are found.

A ceremony to kick off the fundraising drive will be held at the Water Tower on December 9, 2010.

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Country Club of Coral Gables Begins Next Incarnation

posted on May 16th, 2010 filed under: Miami and Coral Gables Living, Real Estate News

The latest operation at the city-owned Country Club of Coral Gables property officially opened this weekend with a ribbon cutting at the new Liberty Caffe on North Greenway Drive at Granada Boulevard.

Coral Gables Real Estate Photos -- Country Club of Coral Gables -- Liberty Caffe -- Ribbon Cutting 1

The cafe will serve pizza, gelato and light, Italian-oriented fare from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., which one passerby considered an unwelcome threat to neighborhood fixture Burger Bob’s, the greasy spoon in the Granada Golf Course clubhouse right across the street.  It’s a fair point.  Unless the new cafe draws an all-new clientele, Burger Bob’s could be a big loser.  (The other big losers are members of the old country club operation, but that’s a story for another day.)

Additional club operations will open in several phases.  The pool and gym, which will require purchase of a membership, should be open in the next few weeks.  The restaurant, which will be open to the public, is supposed to open in the next couple of months.  And the event facilities are expected to begin operation in about six months.

Area residents have expressed concern about the effect that the cafe will have on the character of the neighborhood.  The cafe itself is not terribly conspicuous and hardly seems a threat to property values.  But nearby real estate could be adversely affected if the cafe becomes a popular place to grab a quick cup of cappucino to go.  Nobody wants a constant stream of cars zipping up the street, parking and pulling away two minutes later.

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A Dark Hour for Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables?

posted on May 2nd, 2010 filed under: Miami and Coral Gables Living, Real Estate News

The Biltmore Hotel’s management has been widely reported to be seeking renegotiation of their lease arrangement with the City of Coral Gables, which owns the hotel building and land.  The managers claim that business is way down because of the economy.

Indeed, something must be going on if the highly rated Palme d’Or restaurant and the classic Biltmore Bar are closed on a Sunday evening in early May.

Coral Gables Real Estate Photos -- Biltmore Hotel (3)

The odd thing is that the hotel made it through the 2001-03 recession, despite the intense fear of travel that crimped tourism after the 9/11 attacks.  Back then, the hotel slashed prices and offered hefty incentives for guests.  The Simple Pleasures package combined low, tax-inclusive room rates and in-hotel spending credits, for an effective rate of something like $100 per night.

The deals now are not quite as good, but from May 1 to September 30, the Simple Pleasures package is priced at about $149 per night, not including tax and after accounting for the in-hotel spending credit.

The role of the Biltmore in sustaining Coral Gables real estate cannot be underestimated.  The hotel not only adds value to homes and properties in the surrounding neighborhood, but introduces a steady stream of potential future residents to the city.  City founder George Merrick knew as much when he sent Biltmore guests on real estate tours.  After all, Coral Gables is not an obviously desirable destination, and has always had to justify why people coming to Miami should situate themselves 8 miles inland from the ocean and world-famous beaches.

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Coral Gables Living: Miracle Theater Kids Fest 2010

posted on May 2nd, 2010 filed under: Miami and Coral Gables Living

It was all about the kiddies this weekend at the Miracle Theater in downtown Coral Gables.  Kids Fest 2010 offered live performances, crafts, a costume room and various other activities, all free of charge.  It was a good time to be a kid in Coral Gables.

Coral Gables Real Estate Photos -- Miracle Theater -- Kids Fest 2010 (3)Coral Gables Real Estate Photos -- Miracle Theater -- Kids Fest 2010 (2)Coral Gables Real Estate Photos -- Miracle Theater -- Kids Fest 2010 (1)

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