In 1994, New York serial entrepreneur and real estate investor Steven Perricone arrived in sunny Miami to lease and convert an old Mediterranean-style home in Brickell into a garden-inspired Italian restaurant and specialty market. Three years later, he purchased the property for $775,000, knowing one day the area would be something special. “I was bullish on Brickell when I decided to open, but even the most optimistic projections couldn’t have predicted what the neighborhood has become,” he says. “At the beginning, everyone thought I was crazy — friends warned me that I would lose my shirt on this venture…in my heart, I knew they were wrong.” More than 20 years and 3 million+ meals later, his “gut feeling” paid off. Last year, he sold the property to Netherlands-based CitizenM Hotels for a little over $16 million.
Miami locals who remember the Brickell of the ‘80s and ‘90s, recall the buzz surrounding the launch of Perricone’s vividly. But before there was Perricone’s, there was the urbanizing of “Millionaire’s Row”, where William & Mary Brickell lived in their waterfront mansion more than 100 years ago. Among the buildings that were developed on the stretch was the iconic Atlantis, which helped put Arquitectonica on the map after it had its close-up on the opening credits of Miami Vice. For the first time, Miami “style” was part of the national conversation. Bright, tropical colors, white pants, snazzy shoes and flashy cars defined the era. The ‘90s ushered in Ugo Colombo’s Bristol Tower and Santa Maria; the latter being the tallest building constructed south of NYC at the time. Another notable milestone came more than a decade later with Jorge Perez’s ICON, an unprecedented development that many believe set off the building boom that transformed Brickell into the sprawling metropolis it is today, all in record time.
Brickell Flatiron is the latest landmark skyscraper making headlines. Adriana Brito is a Top Producer at Fortune International Realty & Sales Executive at Brickell Flatiron. “Brickell Flatiron’s shape, architecture and design will render it a timeless iconic building right in the center of the neighborhood,” she says. “The tower’s high-end finishes are unparalleled, further elevating Brickell’s standards of luxury and reputation as a growing, tropical Manhattan that is the true urban core of Miami.”
Perhaps the greatest contribution to the social evolution of Brickell in recent memory has come in the form of a $1.05 billion mega eco-friendly shopping mall and mixed-use lifestyle mecca brought to life by Swire, the award-winning firm that is also responsible for the development of Brickell Key and two more towers on the horizon: one at the former Associated Photo site; the other on the old Tobacco Road lot. As its name implies, Brickell City Centre has become the embodiment of the much-needed nexus and lifestyle hub that Brickell needed to compete on the world’s stage. With a focus of “experience” over “shopping” — anchors like La Centrale set the bar for the food hall trend city-wide; and the ultra-posh, tech-centric CMX dine-in movie theatre has redefined the “dinner and a movie” concept for generations to come — date nights and shopping sprees will indeed never be the same again.
Perhaps even more incredible, Brickell City Centre has connected with the community in a way that no other mall in the world has been able to accomplish. From breezy, open-air networking events to a Modern OM mass meditation of more than 1,000 people and a series of exhibits during Art Basel as well as weekly Farmers’ Markets and local vendor showcases, there’s never a dull day — or night — at Brickell City Centre. “It’s essentially a mini-Manhattan in the middle of Brickell,” says Craig Studnicky, Principal of ISG, the firm that manages the condo sales at Brickell City Centre. “In the future, Brickell will be an even more sought-after residential address than it is today.” Adds Maile Aguila, Sr. VP of Residential Sales for Swire Properties: “Brickell is finally a 24/7 livable neighborhood,” she says. “In addition to Brickell City Centre, projects like the Miami River Greenway and The Underline will ensure the area continues to evolve as the epicenter of connectivity to all points on the compass.”
As one of the first luxury retail tenants at Brickell City Centre, Valeria Cardenal, Business Director for Mirto Miami, knew that Brickell was ripe to become the new face of The Magic City. “Those who are moving into the area are getting used to walking and using the ever-expanding public transportation options in town, resulting in a neighborhood that is increasingly urban and pedestrian-friendly,” she says. “Mirto serves the professional and international customer who demands high-quality shirts manufactured in Madrid. We offer a wide variety of pieces from sporty business casual to black-tie formal.”
Award-winning, internationally renowned Architecture & Cityscape Photographer Bill Brothers of Golden Dusk Photography moved to Brickell from Toronto 10 years ago and invested in a condo at Brickell Heights. He says that Brickell and its ever-evolving skyline inspires his work daily. “Brickell is a round-the-clock bustling metropolis with everything that you need at your fingertips — it’s a lifestyle where young professionals and young families can experience a growing city full of culture all within an unmatched environment,” he says. “I feel that Brickell becomes even more alive at night and adds to the vibrancy and electric feel of the city.”
Sarah Elles Boggs, one of the first residents at Infinity and a real estate agent with Douglas Elliman, says that way back in 2008, she was headed to a meeting in Coral Gables when she saw Brickell for the first time and was mesmerized. She took the next exit off the highway and hasn’t looked back since. “I ended up having to reschedule my meeting that day and started looking for apartments that evening — Brickell was where I HAD to be,” she says. “I adore the fact that you have everything you need within just a few blocks. It’s like living in Manhattan except the properties and views are prettier and the weather is better. We also don’t have a state income tax, and that’s definitely a plus.” But Brickell is not just good for business; she’s also raising her 2-year-old son in the city. “It may not seem like it since we are the second-most dense neighborhood in the U.S. after Manhattan, but Brickell is still very much like a small town — the cashiers at the bank and grocery store get to know you by name and I’ve even had the mailman stop me and tell me that he left a birthday card in my mailbox,” she says. “Recently, many schools have opened for younger children and there are plans to build a new school complex on the South end of Brickell near I-95 for older kids. There are also 5 public playgrounds east of the highway and most of the newer buildings have amazing playrooms.”
What’s more, as a resident and a realtor, she has a lot of predictions for Brickell in 2019 and beyond. “There is a lot of resale inventory on the market, but the numbers show that the sellers aren’t offering steep discounts,” she says. “There are a lot of people who would sell but are not necessarily eager to do so. Most of these sellers paid cash for their condos, so they can either hold them and lease them out, or sell them if something good comes along. Basically there is a lot to choose from, but don’t anticipate fire sales.” She also foresees an uptick in the retail and office market. “Now that we have so many new residents, we need more places to work and eat,” she says. “Currently, Mary Brickell Village is getting a facelift and most of the new buildings have street-level retail spaces. These will bring us an even wider array of places to work, dine, shop and play — it really is a very exciting time for Brickell.”
And it’s not just financial, real estate and retail businesses that are calling Brickell home. Tech is also a burgeoning field. Henry Zakkour, Senior Director of Engineering for Zakkour Technology Group, decided Brickell was the perfect location for his company’s headquarters. “It was an obvious choice because it is an international hub for business which thrives on the entrepreneurial spirit,” he says. “Aside from the business perks, there’s also a massive lifestyle benefit in Brickell — plus it’s absolutely beautiful here!” For Zakkour and his team, the core of the Brickell lifestyle lies in the pursuit of being the best. “Brickell has grown into one of the — if not THE — best areas in Florida. The majority of the locals here are at the tops of their fields, and the atmosphere in Brickell emanates success.”
What’s more, Zakkour believes Brickell offers the best of all worlds. “I’ve lived in 4 countries and called some of the biggest cities in the world my home,” he says. “Throughout my travels, I found different aspects of every city attractive, but Brickell encompasses the best qualities from all of them. It has the diversity of a major American city while still being close enough to the beach to smell the salt in the air. The future of Brickell is bright with more businesses and entrepreneurs seeing the potential to be a part of the action!”