- Brickell is Miami’s famed financial district, nicknamed “Wall Street South.”
- Real-estate agents in the area say young people are flocking to live in the up-and-coming neighbourhood as new luxury condos, bars, and restaurants open up.
- I spent an afternoon walking around Brickell, and I didn’t see what all the hype was about.
- The neighbourhood isn’t very pedestrian friendly, it’s dominated by high-rise towers, and there didn’t seem to be many options for dining and drinking.
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Move aside, Wall Street. The country’s most exciting financial district is Brickell in Miami, according to real-estate agents in the area.
Nicknamed “Wall Street South,” the city’s financial hub is situated just south of downtown Miami. Real-estate agents say it’s an increasingly popular place for young people to live, and it’s seen a huge amount of development in recent years, from luxury condos to shopping centres and dining destinations.
“It’s the second-largest financial hub outside of New York, and it has the hottest retail real-estate market in the US,” Karen Elmir, a luxury realtor who sells homes in Brickell, told me in a phone conversation.
Scott Beyer wrote for Forbes that Brickell “personifies the new Miami: it is rich, multicultural, and intensive, having become an ‘overnight neighbourhood’ of gleaming skyscrapers whose designs and coloration reflect the coral blue waters of Biscayne Bay.”
On a recent trip to Miami, I spent an afternoon in the city’s famed financial district. But after all the hype I’d heard, I wasn’t too impressed by the neighbourhood.
Brickell in an afternoon
Undeniably, part of it comes down to personal taste, as a district of brand-new, “gleaming skyscrapers” doesn’t fit my idea of where I’d like to live.
I started my walking tour of the neighbourhood at Brickell City Centre, the 500,000-square-foot “vertical shopping experience” with four levels of shops including Sephora, Coach, Sandro, Zara, and All Saints, as well as bars, restaurants, and a movie theatre. There’s also an Apple store and a 107,000-square-foot Saks Fifth Avenue.
While I appreciated that the shopping center was outdoors – the better to enjoy the balmy Miami weather – I didn’t see any anything that I couldn’t have found in New York City, where I live.
After a tour of the shopping center, I spent a few hours wandering through Brickell. I passed towering skyscrapers, banks and other financial institutions, and quite a bit of construction.
Elmir told me most of the people moving to Brickell are young professionals between the ages of 25 and 45 who work in industries like finance and law.
These young professionals buy condominiums in luxury high-rises such as Echo Brickell, according to Elmir, where a four-bedroom penthouse is asking $US37 million.
The median sale price of homes in Brickell is $US356,800, and the median monthly rent is $US2,500 – both higher than the numbers for Miami as a whole, according to Zillow.
In Brickell, Elmir says the average price of the apartments she sells is $US1 million.
As I walked through Brickell, I expected a lively neighbourhood bustling with bars and restaurants. Instead, the few cafés and eateries I passed seemed to be outliers. Most of the time, I found myself walking beneath skyscrapers with few other pedestrians around, apart from right around Brickell City Centre.
And apart from Brickell City Centre, I didn’t see many retail establishments, either.
Millennials may be moving to Brickell – but aside from its proximity to offices, I just don’t see the draw
As I walked around, I found myself getting increasingly bored, with very little to look at besides the facades of skyscrapers. The lack of street-level retail, bars and restaurants – not to mention green space – made the neighbourhood feel unfriendly to pedestrians.
While financial districts in general aren’t known for being the most culturally vibrant neighbourhoods, walking through the streets of New York City’s Financial District, where I work, is a completely different experience than the one I had in Brickell.
In Manhattan’s Financial District, the bustling streets are overflowing with restaurants and fast casual dining options, bars (often mediocre, but they are there), and shopping.
Like most of my millennial peers, I’m partial to lively, walkable neighbourhoods, and from what I saw, while Brickell may be on the way to being one, it’s just not there yet. I found Miami Beach’s South of Fifth neighbourhood to be much more appealing and walkable, with its 17-acre waterfront park, cafés, bars, and restaurants.
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