CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The city of Coral Gables is in the midst of an unprecedented building boom, and a massive half-billion-dollar project called The Plaza Coral Gables is at the heart of it all in downtown.
"I see this as a renaissance here in Coral Gables," Coral Gables Commissioner Vince Lago said. "You are talking about an opportunity for both rental, ownership and commercial space here in downtown Coral Gables."
At least four other projects are underway around the Gables and all of them are mixed-use, meaning they will incorporate rental, residential ownership, office space, retail and hotels to attract coveted live, work and play residents.
"One of our problems is that we have 700,000 cars passing through Coral Gables every day, and to the extent we can alleviate that with our residents living, working and playing in Coral Gables, we are trying to do that," Coral Gables Mayor Raul Valdez-Faulk said.
Downtown Coral Gables makes up 5 percent of the Gables geographically, but the area provides 50 percent of its tax revenue. So city officials are encouraging quality live, work, play projects in the City Beautiful.
Officials said that most exciting part of the growth spurt is that most of these mixed-use projects are in areas that were predominantly used for commercial use. They are calling this "high quality growth."
The Gables has been known for its difficult building codes. New projects will still have to adhere to a maximum 16-floor height restriction.
"We are, as you know, the first planned community in the state of Florida," Lago said. "George Merrick had a vision, and that vision was to design a city and build around it. So a properly planned community like Coral Gables is where everybody wants to come live, work and play."