For many years, Miami was the destination for snowbirds and spring breakers, but during this unprecedented year it has become the “new” New York. When NYC went into lockdown last spring, a record number of New Yorkers flocked to the warm climate and open spaces of Florida (not to mention the low taxes and more relaxed COVID rules). Miami is having a renaissance as NYC restaurants, luxury hotels and art galleries followed this exodus from the North.


The move South started slowly pre-COVID, but sped up in 2020. There was always a southern migration, but it has now gone into overdrive. COVID pushed a lot of people over the edge and gave them a reason to finally make the move. In fact, NYC saw 300,000 households leave since the start of the pandemic compared to around 85,000 that left in 2019. Miami has always been appealing to New Yorkers as both cities are in the same time zone plus there are direct flights too. Now that we are finding out that remote working is not just possible, but can actually be more efficient while you are able to spend more time with your family, why not take that Zoom call overlooking the ocean or poolside? Initially thinking they would wait out the pandemic, Northerners are now realizing that this new way of life has something great to offer and are now setting up permanent homes and offices in the area.


There has been a seismic shift in real estate in Miami. I read somewhere recently that if you think of NYC as a ballet, right now the city is at intermission. During intermission, some people get restless and don’t come back for the next act. That is what is happening now, as real estate prices in Miami (and Palm Beach too) are on an unstoppable upward trajectory. Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen recently made news by dropping $17 million on a 2-acre lot on Billionaire’s Bunker on Indian Creek Island in Miami. They will tear down the existing home and will custom build a new one. They spent $20 million building a custom designed home years ago in LA, so one can only imagine what they will build here. In August 2020, Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez bought a 10-bedroom mansion on the exclusive Star Island in Miami for $32.5 million. Around the same time, the hedge-fund billionaire Ken Griffin bought an empty lot also on Star Island for $37 million. He has been on a buying spree spending more than $350 million to buy land in Palm Beach and Miami. There is an interesting story behind Star Island as it was conceptualized not long after the 1918 pandemic by Miami developer Carl Fisher, who discovered that he could create his own island with lots of social distancing. It was completed in 1922.

Aerial view of the exclusive Star Island in Miami

Palm Beach luxury home sales were up 113% in the fourth quarter of 2020. An oceanfront property recently sold for $73 million to hedge-fund billionaire and Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper, the founder of Appaloosa. These high prices are still continuing into 2021. In February, private-equity executive Scott Shleifer, a co-founder of Tiger Global Management, paid over $120 million for an oceanfront mansion setting a price record for the state and as one of the most expensive home sales in the U.S.


The area is also turning into a “Wall Street South”, as the hedge-fund Citadel is planning to open an office in Miami. Elliott Management (another hedge fund) recently moved its headquarters from NYC to West Palm Beach and Goldman Sachs Asset Management is rumored to be looking in the Palm Beach area for a large office as so many of their employees are now living in South Florida. Tech is not being left out, as Microsoft is in talks to lease office space in Miami.


With this influx of New Yorkers into the area, NYC based restaurants and art galleries followed their customers south. In Miami, such NYC favorites like Milos, Carbone, Sant Ambroeus, Red Rooster, Cote, Osteria Morini and Roberta’s opened up. Restaurateurs were feeling confident staying open in Florida if more lockdowns were to occur nationally as they will always have nice weather for outdoor dining. For most of the past year, Miami restaurants have been allowed to operate at 100% capacity, as long as social distancing is maintained. In the past two months 150 restaurant groups are rumored to be looking for spaces in South Florida including some who have abandoned their NYC projects. Business is apparently booming, as Carbone only opened in early 2021 and already has a 3 month wait list and SoHo House remains as crowded as ever and has hard to get reservations like in the old days in NYC. During Miami Art Week in December, several NYC galleries had pop-ups, including Galerie LeLong and Marianne Boesky with Goodman Gallery. The Rubell Museum and The Pérez Art Museum continue to exhibit contemporary must see shows that are adding to the cultural landscape. Design aficionados also flock to these two museums as The Rubell Museum was designed by Selldorf Architects and The Pérez Art Museum was designed by Herzog & de Meuron. Hotels are also becoming cultural hubs, as places like the Sagamore Hotel are hosting exhibitions and artists’ talks.

The Pérez Art Museum designed by Herzog & de Meuron

In Palm Beach, which was always a bit more reliant on the older crowd, a younger generation is now making its mark. Aerin Lauder recently designed a charming villa at the Colony Hotel. New York’s old stalwart Upper East Side eateries La Goulue opened in Palm Beach in 2020, and Swifty’s is doing a pop up at The Colony Hotel, while Le Bilboquet will open soon. On the art front, Pace and Acquavella have opened art galleries in the area. It seems that for New Yorkers settling into this sunnier location, the “new” normal has been reestablishing old routines in a new location.


The hotel landscape is changing too, as four luxury hotel brands are building new properties in the area. The planned Aman-branded luxury hotel and condo will be part of the redevelopment of the Faena District site in Miami with an opening slated for 2023. This new 2-building development will have a 56-room hotel and 23 luxury condos. The hotel will be in the historic Versailles Hotel (built in 1941) that will be renovated by the Miami based developer OKO Group. Another building nearby will be comprised of 23 Aman boutique residences. This building will be designed by the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. This project will mark the first Aman-branded development in Florida and one of only four in the U.S. The Related Group is partnering with Baccarat for a Baccarat-branded 3-tower development in the Brickell neighborhood of Miami. This multi-tower project, The Baccarat Hotel & Residences, will have up to 1,400 residential units plus 249 hotel rooms with additional office and retail spaces. Arquitectonica is the architect for the Baccarat Residences and the interior design will be by Meyer Davis. Sales have recently launched for the 100-story Waldorf Astoria Residences in Downtown Miami, which will be home to 205 hotel rooms and 360 luxury residences. It will be designed by architect Carlos Ott and will be the tallest building in Florida. The design will be striking as it will resemble a pile of unevenly stacked glass cubes.

A rendering of The Waldorf Astoria Residences designed by Carlos Ott

Finally, E11even Partners are working with Deepak Chopra on E11even Hotel & Residences, a planned 65-story, 400-unit tower northwest of Downtown Miami. The architects are Sieger Suarez Architects, and the residential interiors are by the design firm AvroKO Hospitality Group.


Starchitects are making their mark on the city too. Jean Nouvel’s first project in Miami, the Monad Terrace, will be a 59-unit luxury condominium. With the buildings lush climbing gardens and signature lagoon, this will surely be a site to visit. Along with the top architects mentioned so far, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Richard Meier, Piero Lissoni and Renzo Piano all have recently designed buildings in Miami. Will Miami become THE new global destination for architecture/design lovers? With so many exciting new projects in the works and the influx of this new money and all the new properties being built, it will be thrilling to see how the design landscape in Miami and its surroundings will unfold in the next few years.

The rendering of the upcoming Monad Terrace designed by Jean Nouvel and featuring a lagoon