Is it really all that?
South of Fifth, or Sofi, as it is sometimes affectionately called occupies the first five blocks at the very tip of Miami Beach and has evolved into a very distinct neighborhood. It has a rags-to-riches history in record time.
South of Fifth used to be known as “South Pointe” in the 80’s and it was a seriously dangerous place. For years, the area had been a sleepy sunshine retirement community, but after the Mariel boatlift of 1980, refugees moved in and started sleeping on its beaches. These were the Miami Vice days, and from how things look today in the South of Fifth neighborhood, it’s hard to believe they ever happened. German entrepreneur and developer, Thomas Kramer, was the first to see the area’s potential and began snapping up property in the early 90’s. In June of 1993, Kramer assembled 10 of the country’s best architecture firms, along with civic officials and residents at Joe’s Stone Crab, the oldest restaurant South of Fifth, for a 6-day think tank to create a new plan for the blighted area. Although none of the stunning results came to be realized, the ball was rolling. When Kramer ran into financial trouble a few years later, Miami’s mega-developer Jorge Perez bought much of his portfolio and the rest is history.
A Renaissance South of Fifth
This new second wave of developments happening right now seals the fate of South of Fifth as a unique, exclusive enclave with a character all its own. Having no more waterfront parcels to build on, developer Jorge Perez went boutique luxury and has created his One Ocean and Marea on inland parcels. He has employed a dream team of artists, including the genius of Swiss landscape architect Enzo Enea, to enliven the concrete. Enea has carefully chosen hearty plant materials to bring a lushness to the his South of Fifth developments.
Miami architect Rene Gonzalez, a student of Richard Meier, has given us Glass, with one unit per floor, made largely of glass, with landscape by Raymond Jungles. 321 Ocean and One Ocean are designed by ‘starchitect’ Enrique Norten. These high-profile projects sold to a healthy combination of New Yorkers, Europeans and South Americans, adding only 120 units to SoFi’s condo inventory and urban density.
As prices soar for property in the exclusive South of Fifth neighborhood, buyers may ask, is it worth it? Compared with other international cities, Miami is a bargain. Luxury prices in London range from $4,000-11,000 per square foot (psf) for a flat in Mayfair. Manhattan’s luxury market has an average price of $2,700 – $4,000 psf. Hong Kong rings in with psf’s at $11,000; Paris, $4,400; Tokyo $7,600; and Moscow, $4,250.
By these standards, Miami’s most expensive neighborhood seems affordable. Prices for the larger units at the Continuum South Tower have reached into the $3,000 psf territory, with Apogee just slightly behind. This marks an 18 percent year-over-year increase for resales South of Fifth. The four new developments in construction, Glass, 321 Ocean, Marea and One Ocean, sold out in a matter of months. Their average sold price per square foot varies from $1,400 (Marea and One Ocean) to $2,600 (Glass) and $1,800 (321 Ocean). Three out of the four are not even on the beach!
The Value of SoFi Living
So what does a buyer get for their $2000+psf price tag South of Fifth? SoFi has the obvious and forever advantage of being surrounded by water on three sides providing breathtaking views, a lovely beach, 18-acre park, boardwalk that circles its periphery and deep-water marina. The active South of Fifth Neighborhood Association (SOFNA) led by Dr. Steve Mandy has ensured that SoFi remains a club free zone (with a few exceptions). More significantly, South of Fifth represents 18-20 percent of the tax base of Miami Beach, and 20 percent of those taxes are reinvested into that neighborhood. That spells new roads and a stellar park. It’s recently renovated South Pointe Park had a pricetag of $22M. South Pointe Elementary School is A -rated. The lifestyle is luxurious, low density, and, in fact, owners don’t need a car to live it. So close to South Beach, South of Fifth has nowhere near the craziness factor to the north. In fact, within its confines are some of the finest restaurants in Miami, including Joe’s Stonecrab, Milos, the Prime establishments (112, Italian and Fish), and the newly opened Il Mulino and Porfirio.
South of Fifth is a very unique place with a unique history and, yes – it is all that.