The City Beautiful
Coral Gables Renaissance
By Mayor Jim Cason
In keeping with the enterprising spirit of our city’s founder, a renaissance is underway in Coral Gables. Our reputation as an international city continues to grow, and our downtown is experiencing a major transformation.
Most recently, we welcomed the consulate of Norway and the Honorary Consulate of Australia. Today, 21 consulates and foreign government offices have addresses in Coral Gables – the City Beautiful. We’ve also recently welcomed several international organizations, including Britvic, Britain’s second-largest producer of soft drinks; international broadcaster BBC; Chopard, the Swiss luxury jewelry and watchmaker; and ESRI, the international supplier of G-I-S software.
These companies are among the more than 150 multinationals helping to fulfill founder George Merrick’s vision of Coral Gables as a truly international city.
Our proximity to the airport, Port Miami and downtown Miami, makes Coral Gables” central business district a major employment center offering a highly desirable office market that remains one of the most stable in South Florida. But our city center is no longer just a great place to do business. Now, it is rapidly becoming a premier place to live, with more than 1,000 residential units planned for the area.
It’s an ideal time for residents and businesses to invest in our downtown. As we prepare to celebrate our 90th anniversary this April, we are embarking on long-anticipated streetscape projects for Miracle Mile and Giralda Avenue that will make our central business district more pedestrian-friendly, attractive and economically competitive.
With input from property owners, merchants and residents with a steering committee comprised of major stakeholders, we will begin the exciting process of remaking our main street by replacing sidewalks, planting trees, creating garden areas and adding outdoor dining along newly landscaped curbs, among other things. This project is so important, it’s being fast-tracked, and we hope to have shovels in the ground by fall.
We’ve also rolled out several initiatives that will improve the “Coral Gables experience.” Last October, we officially launched a Visitors Center at the Coral Gables Museum that provides a welcome place to begin exploring our city’s rich heritage, natural beauty and wealth of cultural offerings.
We also recently upgraded our technology to make it easier to navigate our city and find the many amenities Coral Gables has to offer. With our new mobile app, users can find hundreds of places in the City to dine, shop or catch a show at a gallery, theater or museum. It’s also a convenient way to find parking.
I believe every improvement and beautification project we embark on, every opportunity we seize to make Coral Gables more welcoming, will enhance the city’s desirability as a place – not only to live, but to do business. ?
Why I’m Bullish on Coral Gables
By Mark Trowbridge
I have had the rare opportunity to watch the Gables transform itself over the last decade while serving as president of our Chamber of Commerce. Whether it’s the new businesses that have located (or re-located) to The City Beautiful or the amazing projects that have been built (or will be built), there is no place like Coral Gables. Indeed, there is no place like home.
This special issue of South Florida Business & Wealth Magazine focuses on our much admired hometown and the many people, projects and places that make it one of the best small towns in America. There is much to celebrate in the Gables and our Chamber has the great fortune to be involved in many of these activities and transformations.
Like the phoenix rising out of the ashes of an economic recession, our community is stronger and better positioned for the next decade to take our rightful place as the best community in which to live, work, learn and play. We are without peer in the quality of life offered in the Gables, with endless amenities and cultural offerings; an incredibly robust business community that is both international and professional in nature; a top-50 University of Miami (nearly 90 years since its own founding); and of course, year-round amazing weather that beckons travelers of all types, no matter if you like to hit the links or take a dip in our historic Venetian Pool.
As a reminder of all these amazing opportunities, it is the role of the Chamber to share the good news, and after nearly a half-decade of rather quiet growth, the Gables is poised for a renaissance. It is indeed an exciting time to be part of The City Beautiful.
Some of these developments include Agave’s Mediterranean Village, a significant multi-use project adjacent to Ponce Circle Park, likely to be a game-changer in our community. As the project nears approval, it will include upscale retail space, a hotel, residential and commercial space and a rooftop restaurant. It will also bear the hallmark of the most admired projects in the Gables, the Mediterranean architecture that inspired our City and Chamber Founder George E. Merrick over 90 years ago.
Then, there is our Miracle Mile Streetscape, a $20 million investment in our community’s well-known main street. This makeover will create significant place-making for Miracle Mile and its iconic restaurants and shops. It will also update the Mile’s brand, with a focus on outdoor seating, vast tree canopies, wayfinding, lighting and unparalleled energy in which our businesses will thrive.
As the City prepares for its 90th anniversary, we are reminded not only of our historical past, but our exciting future. There are many voices who are contributing to this vision, from our City leadership and downtown businesses to our Chamber and member stakeholders. While the momentum behind these projects is great, there is a broad understanding of how critical it is that we follow a well thought out path, ensuring that our businesses – and the customers they serve – are not inconvenienced during our growth phase.
One of the greatest joys of serving our Chamber is that there is never a day that does not require our attention. Businesses are prospering again and it is our singular focus that they achieve all of their goals. We are proud of our mission to help develop business and build our community. It is what we do best.
But, you need to come and see it for yourself. Dine in one of our many amazing restaurants – helmed by some of the hottest names in the culinary world. Spend the night wrapped in the warm history of our iconic Biltmore Hotel (also celebrating its 90th anniversary). Or better yet, step onto our trolley and let it whisk you from the shops at Merrick Park to the one and only Miracle Mile.
There is no place like home, especially in Coral Gables.?
Mark A. Trowbridge
President & CEO
Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce
Highly-educated workforce attracts multi-national businesses & foreign consulates
By Leslie Kraft Burke
Considered to be one of the most desirable places to do business in South Florida, Coral Gables is home to more than 150 multinational corporations and 20 foreign consulates and foreign government offices.
The city continues to attract more diverse businesses, as it boasts a well-educated workforce: More than half of Coral Gables” 50,000 residents can speak a language other than English, and nearly two-thirds of those over the age of 25 have at least a Bachelors degree. About 30 percent of the city’s population has at least one graduate degree.
Corporations with offices in Coral Gables specialize in a variety of fields, including telecommunications and technology, international finance, health care, biomedical research, import and export, transportation, manufacturing, travel and tourism, news information services and real estate. They tend to be heavy purchasers of professional services, such as legal and accounting, and often serve South and Central America from their local base. Overall, more than 100 countries are served from corporate addresses in Coral Gables.
The affluent enclave in which the median household income is $85,183 per year also is one of the more expensive areas to live in South Florida. The median house price is $701,800. Home prices there have risen in the past year by 8.1 percent, and Zillow predicts they will rise another 0.6 percent within the next year. The median rent price is $2,600 – much higher than the Miami-Fort Lauderdale Metro median of $1,800. ?
Mayor Jim Carson
305.460.5220 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice Mayor William H. Kerdyk, Jr.
305.569.1817 | email@example.com
Commissioner Patricia Keon
305.460.5223 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Commissioner Vince Lago
305.569.1817 | email@example.com
Commissioner Frank C. Quesada
305.569.1817 | firstname.lastname@example.org
City Manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark
305.460.5201 | email@example.com
City Attorney Craig E. Leen
305.460.5218 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Economic & Cultural Development
Director Cynthia Birdsill
305.460.5310 | email@example.com
Executive Director, Business Improvement District Marina Foglia
305.569.0311 | firstname.lastname@example.org
President of the Board of Directors,
Business Improvement District Mindy McIlroy
Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce
President Mark A. Trowbridge
305.446.1657 | email@example.com
Examples of Largest Employers
Bank of America
Baptist Health South Florida HQ
Bayview Financial Trading Group
The Biltmore Hotel
Coral Gables Hospital
Dade County Public Schools
First United Bank
HBO Latin America
Hyatt Regency Coral Gables
Kindred Hospital S. Fla. Coral Gables
Kraft Foods Caribbean Sales
Mercantil Commerce Bank, N.A.
Mercedes-Benz of Coral Gables
Merrill Lynch Bank & Trust Co.
Richemont Latin America & Caribbean
T.Y. Lin International
The Westin Colonnade Hotel
University of Miami
Univision Radio Florida
Zubi Advertising Services
Consulates & Foreign Offices
ACC1″ (Government of Catalonia Agency)
Consulate General of Barbados
Consulate General of Colombia
Consulate General of El Salvador
Consulate General of Italy
Consulate General of Norway
Consulate General of Uruguay
Consulate General of St. Lucia
Consulate General of the Principality of Monaco
Consulate General of Spain
Italian Trade Commission
Spanish Trade Commission
Tourist Office of Spain
Spanish Office of Education
Honorary Consulate of Belize
Honorary Consulate of Hungary
Honorary Consulate of Senegal
Honorary Consulate of Togo
Honorary Consulate General of St. Kitts & Nevis
Honorary Consulate General of Thailand
U.S. Office of Foreign Missions
Taipei Economic & Cultural Office
Why Coral Gables Works for Business
“Home Financing Center has been based in Coral Gables since our founding in 1984. Coral Gables has become the commercial epicenter and gateway to businesses from around the world, with dozens of consulates representing countries from every continent. We are unquestionably one of the most desirable places to work in South Florida. When combined with the historical preservation of our city, which maintains the charm of George Merrick’s vision of the 1920s while still accommodating growth, along with the scores of top-caliber restaurants, the fine hotels, and the beautiful tree-lined avenues of the residential areas, Coral Gables is simply unique.”
” John R. Allen, President of Operations, Home Financing Center
“We have been very fortunate to have become a part of this close-knit community and are pleased to be doing business in the City of Coral Gables. The Liberty Entertainment Group has been in Coral Gables for over four years; first with the revitalization of the Coral Gables Country Club followed by Cibo Wine Bar in the heart of the Miracle Mile. Both have appreciated continuous growth since opening. The exceptional quality of life, architectural and natural beauty as well as convenient access, and a diversified economy make it an ideal location for investment. We look forward to many years of success ahead in Coral Gables.”
” Nick Di Donato, President and CEO, Liberty Entertainment Group
“Coral Gables is an ideal place to do business as compared to any other location in South Florida. First, as compared to other locations it is more accessible for our clients located in the Miami area as well as those from out-of-town coming from the airport. Second, with many of our clients located in Coral Gables or close by, it makes business meetings at our office or at one of the great places to eat very convenient for all. Finally, the location is ideal for our employees since it is a safe place to work, less expensive than downtown Miami and with plenty of shopping options nearby.”
Ronald L. Kammer, attorney and partner-in-charge of the Coral Gables office,
Hinshaw & Culbertson
George Merrick’s vision lives on
By Leslie Kraft Burke
Created in 1925 by George Merrick, Coral Gables is renown both for its beauty and as one of the nation’s first fully planned communities. The city’s storied past informs its present culture, which treasures its architecture and landmarks while positioning for the future.
Merrick’s vision for Coral Gables was drawn from the Garden City and City Beautiful planning movements of the 19th and early 20th century, and incorporated secluded residential enclaves and commercial areas inspired by the architectural style of the Mediterranean. He dreamt of a city that would offer every amenity to its residents, as well as one that would become a center for international business.
To make his dream a reality, Merrick worked with a team of city planners to create the community – complete with set aside residential and country club areas, business, industrial and craft subdivisions and recreational areas, including bridle paths, parks, tennis courts and golf courses.
Next, he selected a group of extraordinary designers, which included artist Denman Fink, architects H. George Fink and Phineas Paist, and landscape architect Frank Button, to create a unique suburb of the city of Miami. A project that would be an unrivaled beauty, constructed in the Mediterranean Revival style, featuring all the elements of the City Beautiful Movement right down to the finest details, like city lamp posts. Over time, other architectural styles became hallmarks within Coral Gables – each executed to perfection.
The Florida Pioneer Village (Southern Colonial) stands today on Santa Maria Street bordering the Riviera Country Club golf course, the French 18th Century Village is located in the 1000 block of Hardee Road, The French Normandy Village is on LeJeune and Viscaya, and the Dutch South African Village is on LeJeune at Maya Avenue. Also standing are the Italian Village, which is spread throughout an area located just south of Bird Road between Granada Boulevard and Riviera Drive, and an 8-unit Chinese Village that stands out colorfully from behind a gated wall on Riviera Drive, just south of U.S. 1.
Some of the most enchanting examples of Coral Gables” unique beauty also include the Venetian Pool and the Biltmore Hotel, whose tower ends in a three-stage cupola inspired by the Giralda tower of the Cathedral of Seville, Spain. Both properties are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, along with Merrick House and Coral Gables City Hall – as well as over 1,300 locally designated properties.
With an exceptional appreciation of the past influences the future, the same principles that made Coral Gables a success at its inception guide the city’s current policies. The community’s emphasis on protecting the residential sectors, preserving the natural environment and celebrating international culture lives on today as Coral Gables continues to be one of Miami-Dade County’s greatest cities. ?
“Coral Gables is the ideal location for today’s business person. Its central location combined with numerous high quality restaurants, a corporate environment, 140 multi-national company headquarters, numerous Consul General offices and a full array of banking institutions make it a sought after location. Businesses and residents both take advantage of the free trolley, lushly landscaped boulevards and a City Government that is there to promote businesses and that continues to invest in infrastructure.”
” William H. Kerdyk, Jr, President & CEO, Kerdyk Real Estate
“Not only does Coral Gables have superb housing and first class retail shops, of all varieties; numerous restaurants and great cultural institutions; but it also has a very pro-business municipal administration and one of the lowest property tax rates in the region. Add that to close proximity to Miami International Airport; a world-class university, the University of Miami; great connectivity with several stops on the metro rail line and a great trolley system; as well as two great hospitals – the sum total is the best business environment in Miami-Dade County.”
” Jack Lowell, Executive Vice President, PointGroup Advisors
UM symbolizes overall education excellence
By Leslie Kraft Burke
Coral Gables” schools have long occupied prestigious positions on the nation’s lists of top advanced learning and K-12 educational institutions.
Based in the city since its inception, the University of Miami is one of the country’s leading research universities. Its main campus occupies 239 acres in Coral Gables to support its student population of more than 16,200 collegiates, who hail from more than 120 nations. Led by President Donna Shalala, the university offers more than 180 undergraduate and more than 150 masters and doctoral degree programs. It was the highest-ranked university in Florida on the recent U.S. News & World Report’s list of “America’s Best Colleges.”
Also located in the city is Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management’s Executive MBA Program. Kellogg was ranked third in the U.S. News & World Report’s list of “America’s Best Business Schools in 2013.”
In 2014, 25 schools based in Coral Gables placed in the top 100 in the state on U.S. World & News Report’s list of the top schools in the nation and Florida. Coral Gables Preparatory Academy and George Washington Carver Middle School have been designated as Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence by the Department of Education, the highest honor that can be awarded to an American school. In addition, George Washington Carver Middle School holds the distinction of being recognized by the French, German, Italian and Spanish governments.
While Riviera Day School and Gulliver Academy have long traditions of academic excellence in elementary school education, Coral Gables Senior High hosts a renowned International Baccalaureate Program. Graduates received diplomas recognized by colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and the world. Also renown is The International Studies Preparatory Academy, a high school focused on international studies and foreign languages created by a collaboration between Coral Gables, Miami-Dade County Public Schools and the French, Italian and Spanish education ministries. ?
Art: The Ambrosia of Life
Widespread recognition for arts, quality of life
Quality of life is at the heart of the many cultural and recreational programs offered in Coral Gables, which has won much national acclaim as an exemplary city.
Opportunities to enjoy the arts are plentiful, as Coral Gables has a Cultural Grants Program to support non-profit organizations and an Art in Public Places Program that require all real estate developments to assign 1 percent of their budget for public artworks.
The city is home to three museums: the Coral Gables Museum in the downtown area; the Lowe Art Museum on the University of Miami Campus; and Merrick House, the boyhood home of city founder George Merrick. The Coral Gables Museum plaza hosts a live music, art and wine gathering every Friday of the month as part of Coral Gables Gallery Night, which features many of the city’s private art galleries highlighting works by European and Latin American artists.
Live theater abounds as well, including the Actors” Playhouse at the Miracle Theater, GableStage at the historic Biltmore Hotel and the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre at the University of Miami. Film enthusiasts enjoy the most current foreign and independent releases at the Cosford Cinema at the University of Miami and the Coral Gables Art Cinema.
Widely applauded for its sophisticated music scene, the city of Coral Gables presents the Jazz in the Gables lunchtime concert series every week from January to April. The city also is home to an annual Baroque Music Festival and the University of Miami’s renowned Frost School of Music, a popular venue for a wide variety of concerts.
For outdoor recreation, there are more than 40 parks where residents enjoy year-round golf, tennis and water sports. These complement Coral Gables” 47 miles of lush waterways that flow throughout its neighborhoods, and the city’s historic, freshwater Venetian Pool – voted one of the world’s coolest pools by Travel & Leisure magazine. ?
National Quality of Life Distinctions
” Top 5 Most Beautiful Small Cities in America (Rand McNally / USA Today)
” Most Walkable Suburbs in the Country (Wall Street Journal)
” Top 10 City to Live Well in America (Forbes)
” Best Places to Retire in America (NBC Today Show)
” Playful City USA (KaBOOM!)
” 100 Best Communities for Young People (America’s Promise Alliance)
” Top 10 Romantic City in the U.S. (Livability.com)
” Top 10 Dreamiest Places to Live in the United States (HGTV’s FrontDoor.com)
” Protector of the Climate Award (Audubon Society)
” Top 10 Cities for Books (Livability.com)
” Top 5 Most Livable Communities in the World (United Nations-backed LivCom International)
“Coral Gables is an affluent community located 5 miles from Downtown Miami and 4 miles from Miami International Airport. It is a well-known, internationally acclaimed, sophisticated destination with more than 200 shops and 70 restaurants supported by a centralized valet program and free trolley within the City Beautiful. Business people and residents alike come to Coral Gables to shop, dine, play, live and work. The Gables also has a significant population of 30,000 students and staff at the University of Miami that support its economic vitality.”
Mindy McIlroy, Executive Vice President of Terranova, and President of the Business Improvement District of Coral Gables
“Coral Gables has a dynamic, diverse and educated population and as we all know, the city’s thoughtful planning and beautiful aesthetic appeals to business people and consumers including both residents and tourists. The city’s new commercial development has brought new people to downtown Coral Gables and made it more lively than ever. With the Coral Gables Museum’s location in the heart of downtown, and the fact that we also now serve as the city’s Official Visitors Center, we have benefitted from the surrounding successful business community and from residents and tourists taking advantage of all the business district has to offer.”
” Christine Rupp, Director, Coral Gables Museum
A Center for Fine Dining & Great Shopping
By Leslie Kraft Burke
A mecca for locals and tourists who love fine dining and boutique shopping, Coral Gables” famed Miracle Mile is the center of the city’s vibrant downtown. It’s also the site of one of Coral Gables most exciting current initiatives expected to be completed this year: the city is investing more than $1 million to give this pedestrian-friendly main street feel even more like an elegant European enclave by widening public spaces to create a lush garden environment reminiscent of the Alhambra in Spain.
Crossing areas throughout Miracle Mile will become garden “rooms” designed by artists and there will be plenty of areas for al fresco dining – especially along the nearby spectacular Restaurant Row – located on the 100 block of Giralda Avenue between Ponce de Leon Boulevard and Galiano Street. There, and throughout Coral Gables in general, diners choose from 120 international upscale and casual options.
Miracle Mile is also home to stores like Barnes & Noble, unique bridal and wedding shops, jewelers, beauty salons, shoe boutiques, fitness studios and specialty men’s clothing stores. Close to these is the acclaimed Books & Books, one of the nation’s top independent bookstores. Considered a major South Florida cultural center, the shop hosts more than 500 author readings and events annually.
Just a few minutes away from downtown is the upscale Village of Merrick Park, an outdoor shopping and lifestyle center that offers array of luxury retailers, anchored by Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. Specialty boutiques include Tiffany & Co., Hugo Boss, Jimmy Choo, Longchamp, Burberry, Diane Von Furstenberg, Carlo Pazolini and Gucci.
For a list of shopping, dining and business services options, visit www.shopcoralgables.com. ?