The History of Miami’s Edgewater Neighborhood

The History of Miami’s Edgewater Neighborhood

Jul 02, 2018 July 02, 2018

Edgewater is a long, and somewhat narrow neighborhood bordering Biscayne Bay in Miami. One of Miami’s oldest neighborhoods, it really developed in booms that mirror Miami’s repeated eras of development through its history.

Edgewater began as a neighborhood with a mixture of fine single family homes and small apartment buildings, bounded on one side by Biscayne Bay and on the other by the Florida East Coast Railway, in many small early 20th-century subdivisions. Since each subdivision contained only a few streets, there is a lot of irregularity in the grid street plan, with streets beginning here and ending there.

Then Biscayne Boulevard was plowed through in the 1920s, first by the Shoreland Company and then the Biscayne Boulevard Company, which was formed out of the remnants of the Shoreland Company after it went bankrupt after the 1926 hurricane.The grand, four-lane boulevard would remain the defining feature of Edgewater, second only to the bay itself, for the rest of its history.

Biscayne Boulevard, completed after the 1926 hurricane, was originally intended to be a district of luxurious shopping and apartment houses lining the boulevard itself, which was built to connect Miami with Miami Shores. And for a while in the early years, it really succeeded in that idyllic image.

Near the south end no less than three department stores clustered, including Sears, a swanky Burdine’s next door that is now completely gone, and the very swanky Jordan Marsh right across the street. Just a few blocks up, the very grand Church of Christ Scientist still exists, although the building is abandoned and awaiting redevelopment, likely as the pedestal of a residential tower.

Sears
Sears, Edgewater Miami

Directly to the north, the small miramar development, with its ‘malecon’ style esplanade that would eventually become Margaret Pace Park, blossomed next to the Miami Women’s Club, which would become an institution in the neighborhood. To the west, a central avenue ends at the Miami City Cemetery, the burial place of some of the most significant Miami founders and families, including the founder of Miami herself, Julia Tuttle.

Just to the north of the park, a lovely large mediterranean revival house would be made legendary in the 1998 movie ‘There’s Something About Mary.’ It’s been demolished, since an alleged accident with a crane. However, the preservation of the house was the original reason for the quarter-circle shape of Paramount Bay, which would have curved around it.

Mary
‘There’s Something About Mary’ House, Edgewater Miami

Modernist office buildings proliferated along Biscayne Boulevard in Edgewater in the decades following World War II, the most notable of which is the Bacardi Building. This is one of Miami’s most architecturally iconic structures, with brightly emblazoned tilework and stained glass.

Bacardi
Bacardi Building, Edgewater Miami

As affluent residents fled to the suburbs in the postwar era, driving in to their office buildings by car, upscale waterfront residential towers were built near the causeways and other amenities to lure them back, like the Charter Club, and the Bay Park Towers. Both built to patterns of postwar luxury residential towers that showed great success in other parts of Miami and Miami Beach. In the seventies and eighties came the blocks of development that would encompass the Omni/Venetia neighborhood and, on the opposite end, the Hamilton.

The Hamilton was and is a striking building of 1980s modernity. Developed by Ted Arison, owner of Carnival Cruise Lines, it looks like a cruise ship about to glide its way into Biscayne Bay. Its atrium rivals those on any of Arison’s grandest liners.

A church, called Unity on the Bay, moved onto the site of what was a large bayfront house. The house itself still exists but is no longer bayfront. Not only is it behind a large mid century modern church, but the postwar Biscayne 21 Condominium, designed by the seminal Miami architect Melvin Grossman, was built on infill land directly in front of it.

Unity on the bay
Unity on the Bay, Edgewater Miami

One interesting locale on Margaret Pace Park was the 1800 Club. Now the site of a condominium building, for a very long time a bar by the same name existed on that site that was very popular with employees of the Miami Herald. As most Miamians remember vividly, the Miami Herald Building used to be a few blocks south, on the edge of Edgewater.

Then, of course, there’s the Omni, a single massive building that has defined the south end of the district since it was constructed in 1973. Built as part of the Plaza at Venetia megaproject, which included two residential buildings (the Grand and the Venetia), an indoor shopping mall, and two hotels, the Omni has dominated the south end even far into its non-existence. It was intended as an urban renewal project, wiping the slate clean and demolishing everything on the site, replacing what was there with monolithic towers and the elevated mall.

Omni Mall
Omni Mall in 1983. BRUCE GILBERT Miami Herald File

The streetscape was hostile to the pedestrian, with the only things at street level being automobile entrances and parking garages. Now owned by casino giant Genting as part of their future Resorts World Miami project, the building remains partially abandoned while the hotel above it continues to operate and an art school occupies the former Jordan Marsh store, which was originally integrated into it.

Jordan Marsh
Jordan Marsh, Edgewater Miami

As the Omni briefly brought new life into the south end of Edgewater, and new residential buildings came to the north, the center of Edgewater continued to stagnate, a mish-mash of disjointed streets with an odd mixture of large but gradually dilapidating single-family homes and apartment buildings of all sizes, until quite recently. Even this stretch of Biscayne Boulevard lost most of its desirability as a commercial area. Only after the turn of the millenium did high-density residential development really start to boom across Edgewater. And boy has it boomed.

With dozens of new buildings shooting up since the year 2000, Edgewater has become a swankier and swankier neighborhood that still offers residential capacity stretching the gamut from relatively affordable to quite high-end. Some of the most significant additions to the neighborhood in recent years have or will include Paramount Bay, the Paraiso District, Icon Bay, Elysee, and of course the series of new buildings (The 1800 Club, Quantum on the Bay, Aria on the Bay, etc.) lining Margaret Pace Park.

Recent Posts

The Most Luxurious Condo Buildings in Bal Harbour
Real Estate News The Most Luxurious Condo Buildings in Bal Harbour
Bal Harbour condos have always been known to be some of the finest in town. But, what’s so special about these premium addresses that makes them so pricey? We’ve listed the Top 5 Most Luxurious Condo Buildings in Bal Harbour and the outstanding amenities they have that sets them a class apart. Below are the top condos ranked from least to most expensive. Why Choose Bal Harbour? Bal Harbour has always been one of the most coveted oceanside addresses in Miami. Just like the Shops at Bal Harbour are known for showcasing only high-end brands, the neighborhood too is known for housing only the world’s finest residences. Privacy and exclusivity are a given with a Bal Harbour address. Though this ultra-luxury neighborhood has its own tranquil beachfront, it also benefits from being just a 20-minute drive away from South Beach’s spoils and the mainland’s culture and shopping destinations. The Best of the Best Condos in Bal Harbour Palace at Bal Harbour – 10101 Collins Avenue, Bal...
Why Are Luxury Condo Sales Surging in Downtown Miami as Sales Weaken in Miami Beach?
Opinions and Advice Why Are Luxury Condo Sales Surging in Downtown Miami as Sales Weaken in Miami Beach?
Move over Miami Beach, there’s a new rising star on the block. For long, Miami Beach has been the hot favorite for property seekers in Miami. Whether it’s been about purchasing a permanent residence or getting a second home, South Beach properties have always sold out like hot cakes. On the other hand, Greater Downtown (Edgewater and Brickell included) has mostly been a second-best option to South Beach and Miami Beach, possibly out of necessity, with proximity to work being the biggest motivator for local buyers. But, as we’ve been tracing luxury condo trends over the last couple of years via our quarterly market reports, we noticed a reversal. The Greater Downtown area is now emerging as the top favorite among luxury condo seekers. Here are some reasons we are seeing this new trend: Numbers Speak: Miami Beach vs. Greater Downtown Miami Over the past couple of quarters, sales trends in Greater Downtown Miami have been marching ahead, even as those in Miami Beach slowed down....
Massive Lawsuits Won by Miami Condo Associations Mean Awesome Upgrades for Condo Owners and Residents
Real Estate News Massive Lawsuits Won by Miami Condo Associations Mean Awesome Upgrades for Condo Owners and Residents
Recently, a handful of condo associations have scored massive windfalls thanks to lawsuits leveraged against insurers and developers. This is obviously great news for condo associations, and it also usually means that the associations' finances will likely be great for years to come. This in turn translates into improved living conditions for residents of those buildings, since these windfalls provide opportunities for condo associations to make major repairs and improvements that benefit residents.  Oftentimes, the amount of money they win does not actually need to be spent entirely on the issue that motivated the lawsuit (many times the repairs have already been made by the time the lawsuit is settled). This provides a great opportunity for the condo to either fill their reserves and avoid special assessments on future capital improvements and maintenance projects, or simply spend money doing awesome upgrades on various things. Cité Law Suit Settlement Cité in Edgewater In...
The Most Luxurious Condo Buildings in Surfside
Real Estate News The Most Luxurious Condo Buildings in Surfside
Think Surfside, and most would imagine community living by the sea. But, there’s a more luxurious side to Surfside that is offered only by a handful of top-tier residences. To reveal more about that deluxe side, we’ve ranked the Top 5 Luxurious Condo Buildings in Surfside along with their average sales price and list of amenities. Read to find out which Surfside address made it to the list… Why Choose Surfside? This family-oriented beach town comes perfectly positioned between the glamorous Bal Harbour and world-famous Miami Beach. A pocket-sized neighborhood, Surfside is somewhat of an extension of Bal Harbour in some ways and is favored by those looking for community events, friendly neighbors, mom and pop shops and safe streets. Residents absolutely love the uncrowded beaches here that come lined with scenic boardwalks and citywide exhibits dedicated to marine life (read Surfside’s famous turtles). Also, the town has its very own community center that features a lap pool, plunge...
Financing Options for Second Home Buyers
Opinions and Advice Financing Options for Second Home Buyers
Purchasing a second home is embedded in the hearts of many as a sign of true success: the ability to escape to your favorite destination at-will and stay at a place you can still call home and also have it as part of your investment portfolio. Not only will it allow you to save money on lodging if you use it as a vacation home, but it can also provide you a source of income if you rent it out while you’re not using it. There are three common options to choose from to finance the purchase of your second home, and for each you will need good to excellent credit.  Here is what you need to know about each second home loan option. 1. Take out a HELOC on Your Current Home If you’ve owned your primary residence for a few years, chances are you’ve earned equity on the property if its value has gone up.  If so, you can take out a home equity line of credit (HELOC).   A HELOC can help you secure the funds for a down payment or even to purchase the second home outright, depending on the...
Inventory Loans for Unsold Condos Gaining Popularity Among Miami Developers
Real Estate News Inventory Loans for Unsold Condos Gaining Popularity Among Miami Developers
Although pre- and new construction developer sales have picked up in 2019 as compared to the past couple of years, the pace is not necessarily as fast as developers would like, and not all projects are benefiting from the uptick. While many of these new condo projects are averaging 89% - 92% unit sales, those remaining unsold units are currently totaling about 2,101 as of this writing, and developers are turning to inventory loans to capitalize on condos they’ve built that still remain unsold.   Developers have a choice to either reduce their prices to speed up sales, or take out an inventory loan and take a hit on carrying costs versus diminishing the value of their inventory. In Miami, many developers are doing the latter. We can also assume that the money from an inventory loan can be used to pay off other loans or invest in other ventures.  In one recent example, Alirio Torrealba, head of Coral Gables based MG Developer recently closed on a loan from BGI Capital for unsold...