Title image: View of Biscayne Bay from the fifth-floor restaurant/bar of the Mr. C hotel, Coconut Grove, looking east. In the distance is Key Biscayne.
I am loving being in Miami for the academic year and teaching at Florida International University. After spending two weeks in Brickell, I decided to move. The neighborhood had its charms. However, I wasn’t staying in a swank high-rise on the water but rather in an okay hotel with no particular view. I figured I had had enough of the canyon-like downtown streets.
So I moved to Coconut Grove and am now absorbing a whole new atmosphere. The Grove has its high-rises, but guess what? They’re not crowded up against the water like in Brickell, blocking views and access. To give you the idea here’s another angle from the Mr. C hotel:
In the picture, below, my back is to the water, the park is in front of me and the fancy apartment buildings are on the other side of Bayshore Drive.
Coconut Grove: Oceanfront
Water’s edge is all parks.
And is pedestrian friendly.
I like this image. Very sculptural.
Coconut Grove: Business District
Unlike Brickell with its super fancy shopping center, the Grove’s shopping atmosphere is low key. The geographic center of town has … you guessed it!
Lots of leafy side streets:
Lots of boutiques.
Here’s a yoga studio I signed up with yesterday.
Bars and restaurants line most streets:
Here’s a fave Thai restaurant I go to.
A beauty of a restaurant can be found in Peacock Park. The park is continuous both with the business district and the other parks (in fact, a soccer field) leading to the water. The restaurant is called Glass & Vine.
Coconut Grove: Development
In the center of town – that is, at the same intersection as Starbuck’s – there used to be an open-air mall called CocoWalk.
Today it’s a construction zone:
According to what I read in the Miami Herald, Grove residents considered CocoWalk an eyesore and – worse! – a tourist magnet with all its chains, like the Cheesecake Factory and Banana Republic. It was a big deal when it opened in 1990. But in the intervening years it lost its luster – and completely lacked a local Grove vibe.
I know from the astonishing renaissance of Durham, North Carolina that the local and the distinctive are what sell a city or neighborhood these days. So I understand the desire to make a central space in the Grove more local and distinctive. Especially in such a wonderfully walkable part of Miami.
In any case, next to the big construction zone is another boarded-up building.
Across the street from the construction zone is a stretch of boarded-up sidewalk businesses.
Along with this:
It’s possible to take only beautiful pictures of the Grove. However, at the moment, not all of it is beautiful.
All places go through transitions. It’s fine by me that the Grove is going through one now.
This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen