Written by: Real Estate

Buying a Piece of History in Coral Gables

As we know, Coral Gables has an abundance of charm and history. Founded in 1925, the architecture of the time was infused with a strong Spanish and Mediterranean influence which permeates many treasured homes in the City Beautiful today. I often have the pleasure of selling an Old Spanish built between 1925 and 1935. Most of my clients take great pains to lovingly update these homes to today’s standards while maintaining the appeal of yesteryear. Some homes from this period even have a historical designation because of their significance to Coral Gables history. This adds another layer to the approval process for a remodel, whereby the Coral Gables Historic Preservation Board must oversee and approve the changes. This board’s origins started back in the 1970s as Coral Gables began legislation to help preserve its historical structures, thereby perpetuating the city’s magic. Today, there are over 1,000 historic homes and buildings on the Coral Gables Register of Historic Places.

I recently listed one of these historically designated homes built in 1925 which has garnered 40 offers. Forty! Among the offers were 23 out-of-town offers, of which 5 were sight unseen. While all business is welcomed, I did instruct all parties about the significance of this designation. I specifically emphasized the rigid parameters which are in place when modifying this type of cherished home. This specific listing needs some updating, and the successful buyer will have to run their plans through the city, resulting in some delays and restrictions to conform to vetted guidelines. The Historic Preservation Board is in place to help ensure we are preserving the historical significance of these types of homes.

My lovely out-of-town clients purchased a similar home last year and are still in the process of approvals and remodeling. While this seems daunting, it is a practice I wholeheartedly applaud. These vintage homes elevate Coral Gables and add much richness to the area.

Of course, there are some stellar new builds — some of which I have had the honor of selling! I love a modern amenity as much as the next person, but there’s also incremental financial value inherent in 1920s abodes in the Gables. In the last six months, 46 Old Spanish homes were sold with a median price per square foot of $598. This is 4% higher than the price per square foot of homes built after 1936 in the same area, and they were sold in almost half the time!

I encourage those who own or are considering buying a piece of history in Coral Gables to actively strive to keep the integrity of George Merrick’s vision alive. He designed the footprint of the city adhering to the City Beautiful Movement, a reform philosophy of North American architecture and urban planning that blossomed during the 1890s and 1900s with the explicit goal of infusing beauty and monumental grandeur in cities. Advocates of the philosophy believed that such beautification could increase the quality of life. I think most would agree that the surrounding architecture directly impacts the coveted lifestyle here.

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