It's a sign of just how obscene the Miami real estate market is, when a nice but ultimately not particularly outstanding Mediterranean Revival number on Miami Beach attempts to get over four times the price it sold for 11 years ago.
Last week, the Miami Beach Design Review Board approved Stuart Miller's latest Star Island mega-mansion, a gigantic mashup of a Bond villain lair, the Batcave, a Balinese resort, and even the faint whiff of a brutalist office building thrown for sheer shock and awe.
Sometimes a property arises that appears to be the absolute definition of obscenely luxurious decadence, to practically an irresponsible degree. That's one way to describe this rental that recently hit the market at 242 Washington Avenue for an absolutely lavish $21,000 a month, in the heart of South Beach's South-of-Fifth enclave.
Acclaimed Miami-based architect Rene Gonzalez's Prairie Residence, completed in 2017 on a landlocked residential street in the heart of Miami Beach just off sunny and somewhat hostile Dade Boulevard, is one of his most extraordinary designs to date and a really masterful yet particularly unusual home. The 3,312-square-foot contemporary luxury residence was designed for its environment and its future environment, impacted by forces such as sea-level rise. Priced at a precise $15,151,000 apparently, the house has been on the market since last November, and, well, it's still here.
When you take a spectacular piece of early modernist architecture, such as this streamlined moderne house on Pine Tree Drive by important Miami Beach architect Igor Polevitzkty, and give it some bland contemporary renovations that are supposed to "improve" it while blending in with the existing architecture, the results often leave something to be desired.
When architectural critic and curator John Margolies took these photos in the early days of South Beach's art deco revival, from approximately 1980 to 1990, many thought it was a lost architectural cause, or perhaps not even worth the effort. But Margolies's photos document the raw beauty of South Beach's architecture at the time and are a stark comparison to what came later, as anybody who has seen what South Beach has become can immediately tell. These were the dark days of Miami Beach's art deco resurgence, but the light would soon come.
Designed by Achille Salvagni, an Italian designer and architect who has done some incredible yacht interiors but also has a flair for midcentury Italian design, this 7,400 square foot new-build in Mid-Beach was designed almost like a superyacht itself. The house has curvilinear lines and fabulous materials, creating custom elements like a kitchen that looks more like a sculptural art installation than a place to make food, and a bronze and gold grand staircase. It's also got a pool that, at 90 feet in length, spans almost the entire 111-foot width of the property itself. Originally listed for $21 million in March, it got a price cut to $19 million, according to the MLS, in May.
Miami Beach, a city of hotels, is often known for its most famous establishments of yesterday and today: places like the Fontainebleau, the Eden Roc, and the Delano. But there are scores of lesser-known hotels that have come and gone and often show different, more surprising sides to the beach. A catalog of hotel postcards from the University of Miami Libraries shows some of the big famous hotels, but even more smaller establishments that have been almost forgotten over the years. Check them out, this way.