Peacocks amble down the side streets. The vegetation has an overgrown, jungle-like quality. Hippies once camped out here in vacant lots and public parks. And Coconut Grove–Miami’s groovy, Birkenstock-loving village–is now commanding some of the highest prices in the city, competing with slicker neighbors like Miami Beach.
With tight inventory and a spate of ambitious condo projects, the Grove has attracted a number of high-profile residents in recent years, including actor Christian Slater, megadeveloper Jorge Pérez, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and health-care tycoon Mike Fernandez, according to public records and real-estate agents.
Prices for some units in Park Grove‘s under-construction towers are expected to top $1,900 a square foot–a Miami record. Coconut Grove’s priciest home, a historic estate listed for $47.5 million, is likely to be torn down as the true value lies in its 6.9 acres, agents say.
It could be a challenge for the subtropical enclave, known for its wild flora, to keep its hippie roots intact. Sandy Dufay, a retired health-care-company founder, is selling her 1928 waterfront villa for $3.795 million, as she’s conducting the renovation of a newer home a few blocks away.
Located south of the downtown area, the 5.6-square-mile village of about 20,000 people predates the founding of Miami, which annexed the area in 1925. Unlike nearby Miami Beach, Coconut Grove has no sandy beaches or even direct oceanfront. In the 1950s and ’60s, beatniks and hippies were nonetheless drawn to the area’s walkable core and eclectic housing, and it has retained a bohemian spirit ever since, according to Paul George, a professor at Miami Dade College.
Winding side streets and lush vegetation recall an older Grove, established by English and Bahamian settlers, where Mediterranean villas meet colorful timber-frame conch houses. On some blocks, you might spot a muster of peacocks dawdling in the road.
The spirit persists in the zoning code, which forbids adjacent homes to be exactly alike and mandates that removal of historic trees, like the village’s prized banyans and oaks, must be cleared by the city, according to Luciana Gonzalez, assistant director of planning and zoning.
The housing market has risen rapidly in the last few years, says Michael Light of Miami Luxury Homes. For publicly listed condo units and houses, the median sales price in the Grove was $675,000 in 2015, up 17.5% from 2014. Last year, NBA star LeBron James, having returned to Cleveland after four seasons with the Miami Heat, sold his roughly 12,000-square-foot house in the Grove for $13.4 million, according to public records–one of the most expensive home sales in the village.