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Miami’s most exclusive beaches and island enclaves are perfect for superyacht owners who want to live between the beach and the glitzy metropolis. Francesca Steele explores a grand island home for sale with fabulous facilities for entertaining.
For a city that is barely 100 years old, Miami has always punched above its weight in real estate. It has regularly topped lists of best returns and is a treasure trove of luxury homes for international buyers, as well as well-heeled New Yorkers. People come for the sun, the cocktails, the art deco architecture and, lately, the fine art.
Recent figures show that the Miami market has cooled off in the past year. But this, says Jay Parker, of Douglas Elliman, is a good thing. “This market has never had stability. We have gone through tremendous growth over the past few years. It’s natural that it will start to calm at that point.”
So where to look? South Beach – and the Sunset Islands – are still popular. You can buy enormous Mediterranean-style mansions with sea views for $10 million or more. But Art Basel Miami has transformed Downtown into the Design District, and gentrified nearby Wynwood, too. Crumbling Downtown office blocks are now posh condos, priced from just $300,000. If you’re after capital gain (and up-and-coming neighbourhoods) this is the place to look.
In 1934, just as architects were pouring into Ocean Drive on South Beach to build the art deco hotels that now form the famous Old Miami Beach Historic District, the Sunset Islands Company began building houses on mangrove-strewn islands across the new canal. Real estate developers were looking for the next big thing to market to Hollywood stars and New York businessmen. And they found it.
The gated communities on the Sunset Islands have since become home to some of America’s wealthiest folk, looking for somewhere with sun all year round. Lenny Kravitz and Enrique Iglesias are just two local residents who have recently put homes on the market here. A quartet of islands are intersected by canals, with fantastic views and a range of architectural styles that includes Mediterranean revival, art deco and mid-century modern.
Sunset I and II are slightly further away from town than III and IV, but they tend to offer larger properties. It is on Sunset I that you will find this huge colonial-style pre-war mansion, designed by the renowned Miami architect Russell Pancoast. The property was built in 1937 but was completely gutted and rebuilt in 2003. Ceilings were raised, the roof replaced and rooms reconfigured to give it the light, bright and modern feel it has today.
The current owner, a developer who has lived here with his large family (the 8,000 square metre house has eight bedrooms), has found it excellent for parties.
“Miami Beach is made for outdoor entertaining and this home offers this perfectly with the large covered summer kitchen, complete with a lovely blue mosaic bar, cabana bath, coral stone floors and high-end music system,” says Nelson Gonzalez, senior vice-president at EWM Realty, affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate, which is selling the property. The house is south-facing and gets the sun most of the day.
There are eight bedrooms in all, as well as six bathrooms, a huge eat-in kitchen, formal dining room, media room, family room and even a gym with a sea view. Outside, if you get bored of the private pool you’re right on the waterfront and there are plenty of other water-based activities you could enjoy. The current residents are big fans of kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and, of course, boating.
There are 30 metres of mooring on the water, a new seawall and boat lift for smaller boats – while the nearby Sunset Harbour Yacht Club is an award-winning marina club with boat cleaning, fuel service and concierge service.
Buyers concerned about the effect of the recent hurricane (and future ones) can rest assured that the property has been fitted with high-impact windows and doors. The agent says that it is very well priced compared with other properties located on the Sunset Islands: “$11.9 million is towards the mid-range of the neighbourhood, with properties valued as high as $50 million.”
1616 W 28th St, Miami Beach, Florida, for sale at $11.9 million with Christie’s, christiesrealestate.com.