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From the Horse’s Mouth…Latest Scoop on the Main Highway Drainage Project!

Miami-Dade-County-LogoCoconut Grove is buzzing with projects! Besides the new and beautiful Park Grove and Grove at Grand Bay Towers there are many ‘works in progress’:  Regatta Park & surrounding plans,  Save the Coconut Grove Playhouse, Commodore Plaza sidewalk beautification, CocoWalk revival, and of course new commercial ownerships and proposed site plans all over the Grove.

Very large and intensely discussed on the list is the Stormwater Drainage Improvement Project on Main Highway.  That’s Dade County’s child, not the City of Miami’s, and there isn’t any voting about it – it’s a must, it will be messy until completed, and progress is sometimes painful.  We barely live above sea level,  and proper drainage is a must. City of Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff was kind enough to issue a letter to the community with the facts (as the County presented them).

misc_floodThere is an ocean of information in his letter (see below), complete with site maps, but in a nutshell beginning in June and for approximately seven months (ha ha)  there will be a retrofitting of the existing drainage system along Main Highway between Royal Road and McFarlane Road.  Main Highway will be one lane only moving in the north direction, and Grand Avenue will essentially be the route out for southbound traffic. Ouch.

Just thinking about it gives parents dropping off at St. Hugh’s, Ransom, Carrollton, and Plymouth Congregational Pre-School some serious anxiety, but this too shall pass!  Many moons ago I worked in Miami Lakes and the commute was really, really painful.  My father’s advice? Turn up the radio and enjoy the ride.


The Insider Scoop on the Main Highway Drainage Project

We have received a large volume of emails and phone calls regarding the upcoming Miami-Dade County Stormwater Drainage Improvement Project on Main Highway. With the many rumors and gossip that have been circulating throughout the community, we wanted to present the plans as they have been presented to us by the County. Hopefully this clears up any misunderstanding about the project and its intention.The project is slated to begin in June of 2015 and will retrofit the existing drainage system that has failed due to age and been compromised by tree root intrusion. As you can see in the diagram below, the project stretches from Royal Road to MacFarlane Road and will take 7 months to complete. Miami-Dade County officials have told us that the project was actually going to start earlier. However, it was pushed to June to prepare those frequenting the schools on Main Highway for the incoming traffic congestion when the new year school year begins and to allow for the completion of the Southwest 27th Avenue Project.

With a project of this magnitude, there are bound to be many community concerns. The first is obviously traffic. Undeniably, this will narrow one of the most used streets in this community, especially for drop off and pick up during the school year. Traffic will be one-way, heading North, and southbound traffic will have to be rerouted down Grand Avenue to Douglas Road. See the below illustration for a visual representation.

Another concern for the community and this office has been the removal of trees along this signature corridor in Coconut Grove. We have been told by the County that NO trees will be removed during this project. This project only addresses the stormwater drainage system underneath the street. Additionally, the City has requested that a bike lane be striped on the side of the street, removing the commodore trail from the sidewalk.Another concern we have heard from residents is that the County project is to add sewage lines for up-and-coming high-rise development down Main Highway. This was also answered in the negative by Alejandro Barrios, the Miami-Dade County project manager. This project is EXCLUSIVELY for retrofitting an outdated stormwater drainage system. Additionally, nowhere in Miami-Dade County do stormwater drainage pipes run next to sewage pipes.If you have any additional questions about the project itself, feel free to reach out to Alejandro Barrios, or Francisco Gonzalez at the Stormwater Drainage Design Section of Miami-Dade County, and they will help you. Please call 305-375-4772.As always, if you have questions or concerns that you’d like to share with our office, you can always call us at (305) 250-5333 or email me at msarnoff@miamigov.com.

Learn more about real estate in South Miami, Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay, by contacting Val Byrne at val@valbyrnerealtor.com or at 305-323-6231. Val Byrne – Working For You!

Recently Listed by Val Byrne in Gables Estates 181 Leucadendra Drive


Designed by Cesar Molina and Jodel Narcisse, and inspired by the Vanderbilt mansion on Fisher Island, this exquisite Mediterranean hacienda on the premier lagoon in Gables Estates, reigns as one of the most magnificent homes in this guarded community in Coral Gables along Biscayne Bay.   A main house designed to follow the arc of the property and lagoon, two carriage houses, and a two-bedroom service house form the perimeter of a gracious courtyard of European scale.  270′ feet of water frontage (only a moment to the Bay) are flanked by gorgeous terraces, porticos, and a gazebo for opulent outdoor living.  This is truly an exceptional estate.

Property Details:

 • 7 Bedrooms | 7.5 Baths

• 14,946 Adj. Square Feet | 48,274 Square Foot Lot | 270′ Water Frontage

 • List Price: $22,500,000


Aerial Tour





Learn more about real estate in South Miami, Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay, by contacting Val Byrne at val@valbyrnerealtor.com or at 305-323-6231. Val Byrne – Working For You!

Hey Chris, Why Don’t You Ask Lebron Why He Chose To Live Coconut Grove?


If you haven’t read “Why Won’t Anyone Buy LeBron James’ Miami House?”, click the link and be as amused as I was. The director of luxury sales for a respected real estate company explains why LeBron’s house hasn’t sold in 6 months. In David Letterman-style I’ll name the reasons in reverse, and save the best for last:

Lebron James


“LeBron’s $17 million mansion won’t sell because…”

6) It’s not in the ideal ideal location (yes, ‘ideal’ is used twice).

5) People spending this kind of money are not impressed by who owns it.

4) It’s hard to find someone who will write a $17 million check.

3) The Grove is too residential so you’re not going to get the big baller-type rollers.

2) Big money tends to gravitate to Miami Beach.

1) LeBron James’ home is in the Coconut Grove neighborhood.

Do you think he checked that story out with LeBron? Do you think Chris has been to Coconut Grove? LeBron could have lived anywhere in Miami, and I know of a half dozen houses in Miami that were considered, but legendary ex-Miami Heat player #6 chose 3590 Crystal View Court because it IS the ideal location, and it IS in the ideal neighborhood. I won’t bother to go into the reasons why, and I wouldn’t be foolish enough to knock Miami Beach because I LOVE it.

Next week I am listing 181 Leucadendra Drive in Gables Estates for $22,500,000. It’s an ideal neighborhood where plenty of “big baller-type rollers” live under the radar, and $17 million is what the last land parcel sold for! Here’s a preview:


 Learn more about real estate in South Miami, Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay, by contacting Val Byrne at val@valbyrnerealtor.com or at 305-323-6231. Val Byrne – Working For You!

Just Listed by Val Byrne! 5030 Davis Road Introducing “Casa Iluminada”


Back Exterior Evening with Pool

We’re calling this “Casa Iluminada” because of the phenomenal collaboration of glass, natural light, and soaring ceilings.  The home was built in 2008, and a gorgeous renovation took place in 2014.  This gated residence is bar none the epitome of luxury, sensibility, and comfort, and so are the separate guest house, gym, and housekeeper’s quarters! 

The finishes are exquisite, the Arclinea kitchen is over-the-top, the Brazilian Ipe solid wood floors are breathtaking, and the architectural nuances are fabulous.  Come see for yourself! Website and floor plan will be up shortly!

Property Details:

 • 7 Bedrooms | 7 Baths + 2 Half Baths

• 8,921 Adj. Square Feet / 39,204 Square Foot Lot

 • List Price: $5,495,000

 • www.CasaIluminada.com

Back Exterior PanoramaFront Exterior

EntranceDownstairs Family Room






Master BedroomMaster Bathroom







KitchenUpstairs Landing







Pool&SpaSummer Kitchen







Learn more about real estate in South Miami, Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay, by contacting Val Byrne at val@valbyrnerealtor.com or at 305-323-6231. Val Byrne – Working For You!

Will We See The End Of Controlled Choice?

Brief background: In the 1980’s Miami-Dade County Public Schools established “Controlled Choice,” a system whereby the school system selected the school that a student would attend. It was intended to desegregate the schools.

Sunset Elementary School

Fast forward to 2015 and Coral Gables is the county’s only remaining city to have Controlled Choice, with Coral Gables Preparatory Academy, George Washington Carver Elementary, and Sunset Elementary Schools being the lone survivors and topic of debate. Today Commissioners will meet with the Miami-Dade County School Board where the Attendance Boundary Committee is expected to vote on the issue. That recommendation will be given to Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who will make the final decision.

Of course there is debate on all sides, some preferring their children to attend the neighborhood school, and others believing the schools are not equal and perhaps another route is best, but at the very least they want more time to investigate. Apparently, the parents were made aware of the proposal with only 4 days remaining in the 70-day review process.

G.W. Carver Elementary School

From a realtor’s perspective: try explaining Controlled Choice to an international Buyer. I sell a lot of properties in Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, and South Miami, and the Buyers don’t always ‘get it’ or like it. One recent example: Buyer wants to live in the Dante Fascell Park area of South Miami (west of Red Road), but wants to reside east of SW 59th Avenue so they can be in the Coral Gables school district (and attend Sunset Elementary School). I had to tell them that with the Controlled Choice system their children could be placed in one of the other 2 schools, which logistically are much further away. Parents are working in the Dadeland/Datran area and now the children may have to go to elementary school in the north Gables (Coral Gables Preparatory Academy). They will probably opt out of the public school arena.   Let’s see what happens today!


Coral Gables Preparatory Academy

To learn more about real estate in Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, South Miami, Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay, contact Val Byrne at val@valbyrnerealtor.com or at 305-323-6231. Val Byrne – Working For You!


Trader Joe’s in Edgewater?

traderThe Edgewater area has blossomed within the past few years into a wonderful pedestrian friendly community. Centrally located, Edgewater is just north of Brickell and Downtown Miami, south of the beautiful Design District and Midtown, and a short drive away from Miami Beach, Coral Gables, and Coconut Grove. Many companies have been fighting for a retail spot in the area. The Real Deal reports, “Developer Fifteen Group has recently unveiled plans to renovate the historic First Church of Christ,” leading to the speculation that Trader Joe’s could be a prospective tenant. The square footage and location match within Trader Joe’s criteria. Publix, located a block away on 17th and Biscayne Boulevard, opened up in 2012 and became one of the busiest stores within the chain in no time. I’m sure Edgewater residents would be thrilled to welcome another grocery store to their community, a little competition is always good!


Paraiso Bay Project, 600 NE 31st Street

So many exciting new projects underway for Edgewater it’s hard to keep track! The foundation for the first tower at Paraiso Bay has just been poured by Related Group, almost a month after receiving their $93 million construction loan for the four tower luxury complex. The complex will host 1,300 residences, each with Bay views, private elevator and foyer, 9 foot ceilings and large balconies. The Related Group also plans on extending the project by creating a luscious waterfront park open to the public.  I have to ask, can any park be as  beautiful as Margaret Pace Park?  That gorgeous, dog-friendly, expansive park along Biscayne Bay in front of 1800 Club, Quantum on the Bay, Cite, and Paramount is one-of-a-kind, and will be hard to beat.  Love it!


Margaret Pace Park, along N. Bayshore Drive between 17th and 19th

To learn more about real estate in Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, South Miami, Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay, contact Val Byrne at val@valbyrnerealtor.com or at 305-323-6231. Val Byrne – Working For You!



The Underline Is Going To Be Top-of-the-Line! Thank You Meg Daly!

What do the UM, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, the Dade County parks, public works and transit departments, and the Mayors of Miami, Coral Gables, and South Miami have in common? They are avid supporters of Meg Daly’s “Underline” dream of transforming the existing, Underline logopractically unused paved path that runs from Brickell to Dadeland (under the Metrorail), into a beautiful, functional, wildly successful linear park for cyclists and pedestrians.


Friends of the Underline’ see gardens, parks, and playgrounds connecting neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces. Meg’s genius vision + tireless grassroots effort will not only give Miami another layer of outdoor living, but it will make it possible for kids and adults to walk or cycle to work, play, and school SAFELY. Can you imagine what a boost the Underline will give the Metrorail? OMG, why isn’t everyone taking the Metrorail to the American Airlines Arena, Perez Art Museum, and the Corporate Run? What if we all walked the Underline and hopped on the Metrorail to get us most of the way to Art Basel and Wynwood? It took me nearly 2 hours to get into the Miami Beach Convention Center this year.

Underline Rendering 2Underline Rendering

As a realtor primarily selling homes in Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, South Miami, Pinecrest, and Palmetto Bay I spend A LOT of time in my car and that means a lot of time on US1.  I am so excited to watch the transformation of that space; it will be such a joy to look over and see a beautiful, vibrant, happy scene under the Metrorail, and I can’t wait to walk on it!

Meg Daly

PS, before Meg Daly fell off her bike, broke her elbows, rendered herself unable to drive and had to get to physical therapy in the Grove via Metrorail and walking (that’s where she brainstormed the Underline/formerly Greenlink), she was a marketing whiz at EWM Realty International. Thank you so much Meg for your vision, energy, and spirit! Good luck to the five design teams competing to design the masterplan for the Underline: Balmori Associates, Dlandstudio, and James Corner Field Operations, all from New York, Perkins + Will, and Stoss, from Boston.


To learn more about real estate in Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, South Miami, Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay, contact Val Byrne at val@valbyrnerealtor.com or at 305-323-6231. Val Byrne – Working For You!

All Eyes Are On Miami!


Did everyone read last week’s Business Monday cover story about Miami being a leading luxury capital of the world?   It was a WOW moment for Miami where we were defined as “a cosmopolitan playground for the world’s wealthy,” “the American Riviera,” and “a magnet for capital and people from all over the world.” To put it in perspective Miami is:

  • No. 7 of 10 top markets globally according to Wealth Report real estate
  • No. 9 of 10 in luxury real estate markets according to Christie’s International Real Estate (Cote d’ Azur, London and Miami are the world’s most popular second homes)
  • No. 9 globally and No. 2 in the United States in sales of Krug Champagne
  • No. 1 globally in sales of Vilebrequin swimwear
  • No. 2 in the United State in sales of Audemars Piguet watches
  • Way the heck up there in world-wide sales of Breguet watches, Ferragamo shoes & accessories, Burgess Yachts, and Maserati cars

So those are some light-shedding statistics on this great city that I have called home all of my life and sold real estate in for 20+ years (specializing in Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, South Miami, Pinecrest, & Palmetto Bay). The most amazing characteristic of Miami is how resilient we are, and how quickly we recovered from the ‘dark days’ which were darkest in 2007 & 2008. By 2009-2010 we were well on our way to recovery, and 2014 was a record year for real estate sales in both luxury ($1mil+) and non-luxury real estate markets.

You can track the inventory and sales of luxury and non-luxury real estate in Miami for the last 12 years on the two graphs below (click on graph for enlargement):

Over 1 Mil


To learn more about real estate in Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, South Miami, Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay, contact Val Byrne at val@valbyrnerealtor.com or at 305-323-6231. Val Byrne – Working For You!

The Buzz on Condos in Coconut Grove! There’s Life Beyond Park Grove…

I have clients coming to Miami this month who want to buy a condo in Coconut Grove but can’t afford nor wait for Park Grove to be completed.  I adore Park Grove but we have to remember there is life beyond that site! Architectural styles change and building popularities ebb and flow, but panoramas of sunrise, sunset, Sailboat Bay, and downtown Miami remain constant. Where does one go when they want to be a condo-wheeling Grovite before 2016-17? 

Grovenor House

There are five properties for sale between $1.6 mil and $8.750 ranging from 1,750 sf to about 6,900 sf.  Ugo Colombo completed this majestic 32-story tower in 2006 and it still reigns in my eyes as the king of South Bayshore Drive.

Grovenor House, 2627 S. Bayshore Drive

Grovenor House, 2627 S. Bayshore Drive

Ritz Carlton Tower Residences & Executive Residences

The ‘Ritz’ is the benchmark for luxury and elegance and between the two Ritz Towers there are four units for sale between $970,000 and $2.350 mil, ranging in size from 1,560 sf to 4000 sf.


Ritz Carlton Tower and Ritz Carlton Executive Residences, 3400 & 3350 SW 27th Avenue

Yacht Harbour

It was the bomb when it debuted in 1975 and this Ken Treister classic is still one of my favorites.  They just finished the 40 year re-certification at Yacht Harbour and with it came new balconies and a completely fresh face at poolside.  There are 4 great units available right now and 2 of them, in the coveted “A” line, have direct views of Sailboat Bay for $799,000 and $675,000.

View from Yacht Harbour, 2901 S. Bayshore Drive

Grove Isle

The views from Grove Isle are endless, and so is the resort lifestyle: hotel, spa, tennis courts, marina, and restaurant – it’s all grand on this private island. Between the 3 buildings there are 10 two and three bedroom units for sale right now between $675,000 and $1.45 mil.


Grove Isle, 1, 2 & 3 Grove Isle Drive

Mutiny Hotel & Condo and Mutiny Park Sonesta Condominium

The Mutiny Hotel located at 2951 S. Bayshore Drive, and Mutiny Park Sonesta Condominium located at 2889 McFarlane Road have a diverse range of inventory beginning at $219,000 and reaching as high as $1.5mil. Both properties appeal to the Coconut Grove investor and periodic visitor who values the hotel/condo platform allowing short and long term visitors.


The Mutiny Hotel & Condo, 2951 S. Bayshore Drive & Mutiny Park Sonesta Condominium, 2889 McFarlane Road

There are other fabulous buildings in the Grove to consider but there isn’t much for sale in them at the moment. Always on my radar are the Residences at Vizcaya, Grove Hill Tower, Beacon Harbour, Grove Towers, and Mayfair Lofts. Without a doubt, the selection of condominiums in Coconut Grove is as diverse and eclectic as the people who live there.

To learn more about real estate in Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, South Miami, Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay, contact Val Byrne at val@valbyrnerealtor.com or at 305-323-6231. Val Byrne – Working For You!

Recently Sold by Valaree Byrne in Coral Gables! 515 San Antonio Avenue



List Price: 1,375,000.00

4 Bedrooms | 3 Baths


My first closing in 2015 was one of my favorite homes listed in 2014! The house was a classic 1990 built with a mix of Florida Vernacular and Modernism, and spanned a beautiful 14,700 SF lot.

There was no one living at the property and no furniture inside when we listed it, so first on the agenda was transforming this already great house into a “home”. With the help of Jenny McCloskey Staging 515 San Antonio was furnished and accessorized into a magazine quality work of art! We had 3 offers come in and so many other interested parties. I congratulate both the lucky Buyers and Sellers and thank Jenny for a fabulous staging presentation!


To learn more about real estate in South Miami, Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay, contact Val Byrne at val@valbyrnerealtor.com or at 305-323-6231. Val Byrne – Working For You!