It was two years ago this month that we launched our first issue of Coral Gables Magazine, the April 2018 issue. It was an experiment, to see if the people who lived and worked in this city wanted a real magazine, one that was entirely about their city, and not one filled with generic stories about luxury lifestyles, or news from other places.
We are happy to report that our experiment has been a success. The reaction from our readers – that means you – has been overwhelmingly positive. Your letters and texts and emails and calls have been enormously encouraging and gratifying. Our favorite ones include the sentence: “I’ve lived here for [many] years, and I never knew that…”
Why that is so gratifying goes to the core of our mission, which is to report to you all that is taking place in Coral Gables in the areas of culture, politics, business, shopping, entertainment and eating, and to shine a light on the people who are making this city the marvelous place it is. It has been a pleasure to pursue that mission, and the deeper we get into it, the more that we discover. It is an endless voyage into the heart of a city that is a world unto itself, a green and leafy shire that no one wants to leave.
What follows are most of our covers from the first two years, along with a quick look back at some of the people and events we have covered for you, the readers who make all of this possible. If you want to read any of these stories, go to our magazine archives at www.coralgablesmagazine.com
It cost $24 million, and in the end, it took nearly two years to complete. Along the way businesses took a big hit. But what they had before on Miracle Mile was a narrow, broken, uneven sidewalk, and what they got afterwards was a broad, paved-stone promenade with room for sidewalk cafés – and a lot more pedestrians. Two blocks away, Giralda Plaza was transformed from a crowded street with lots of restaurants, but no parking. It became a pedestrian mall. This was our story about the price for that change, and whether it was worth it.
Coral Gables is home to more than 150 multinational corporations, many of them going about their business under the radar, with little exposure to the local community. One of the great corporations based here is Bacardi, still a tightly run family business that emerged from the Communist takeover in Cuba with such energy that it was reborn in the U.S. and became one of the most successful liquor companies in the world, with brands well beyond its famous rum. Here we went inside corporate headquarters and spent time with the scion and curator of the Bacardi family’s private collection of art and memorabilia.
Artists typically live in bohemian hangouts, legendary places like the West Village and 19th century Paris, where the rooms are cheap and the cafés are neighborhood dives. With the most expensive rental rates in the county, Coral Gables is not exactly the place to find artists who live and work here. But we did. Four of them. And this was our interview and pictorial on what it is like to live and practice art in such an affluent city.
The city’s reputation as a center for the arts was just one reason why playwright Richard Kagan chose Coral Gables as the place to launch his musical about Cuba. The other was its proximity to Cuba, and the large numbers of its citizens with Cuban heritage. And then there was that fantastic facility, the Miracle Theater on Miracle Mile. So, after many months of rehearsal, “Havana Music Hall” saw its premiere in the City Beautiful.
Does any city love its furry friends more than Coral Gables? In this first of what has become an annual feature, we took a look at some of the city’s resources for caring for its four-legged friends: Dog walkers, dog groomers, dog boarders, dog doctors, etc. And then we asked six canine-loving citizens to let us photograph them with their dogs – and tell us a tale or two about the endearing neurotic habits of their hounds.
Coral Gables is home to scores of world-class art collections in the private residences of its citizens. Unless you are lucky enough to know a collector, or get to see the pieces on the rare occasions when they are lent out, then you won’t ever get a peek – unless you read this and the other articles in our series on private art collections in the Gables. In this first episode, we looked at collections in the homes of Mike Fernandez and Dr. Julio Ortiz, both of which focused on Cuban art.
One of the more unique pieces of local legislation is the city ordinance that requires developers to set aside a small percentage of their project costs for public art. Sometimes the art is part of the building itself – as with the Codina headquarters building on Salzedo. Sometimes it is outside the building – as with the stone bench in Balboa Park, donated by MG Developer CEO Alirio Torrealba. And it is not always without controversy. Here is a look at what several builders did.
Take a look at a map of Coral Gables and you will see two pockets carved out of the city – on the northern side is Little Gables, on the southern side is High Pines/Douglas. The city has for years toyed with the idea of annexing one or both of these areas. Despite the efforts of proponents for annexation, both within the city and within these two neighborhoods, the county has so far resisted even letting the locals hold a vote about their fate. This was our look at the debate and the arguments on both sides of the fence.
There were once more than 40 galleries filling the streets of Coral Gables, back when it was the center of culture in Miami-Dade County. That was before the advent of South Beach and Brickell, and before the rents drove all of the galleries away to Wynwood, Little Havana and beyond. Despite the myriad challenges, however, a few galleries managed to survive – and even thrive. In this story we took a look at three veteran and one new galler- ist in the City Beautiful, all here to stay.
For years, the city’s government and private sector have been pushing the Gables to become a Smart City, one that embraces innovation and technology to adapt to the future. We looked at innovation in the Gables in the areas of municipal information technology, police enforcement, environmental sustainability, health care, transportation, education, and entrepreneurism. We also took a look a gallery of innovators who have made a difference in the Gables.
There are so many examples of excellence in what Coral Gables has to offer in the arts & entertainment, food, shopping & retail, sports & recreation, and architecture & public places, that it’s almost impossible to pick the very best. But someone had to do it. So, along with our panel of several dozen local pundits, we picked the best of the best of Coral Gables. If you didn’t know, now you knew.
Is it possible to pursue that dream of launching a business, and be a good mother at the same time? In this ode to the women who actually do it all, we broke it down with four local ladies who started successful enterprises at home while holding down the role of raising the kids at the same time.
Coral Gables enjoys a reputation of being a safe city, protected from the outside world of crime and mayhem. But deep within in its dark heart lurk these tales of murder most foul. For our Halloween issue, we looked at a handful of gruesome endings, starting with the death of a pioneer woman and ending with a more recent tale of a family’s murder for money. Scary stuff!
Despite an amazing parade of successful and famous graduates, and its importance to the city’s sense of community pride, Coral Gables High School had become a rundown shell of its former self. While academic standards have actually climbed in the last decade, funds for the physical plant were nowhere to be found. Not until the parents and teachers and local lawmakers united to push through $25 million in capital improvement allocations, now in the process of transforming the proud public high school into a modern center for learning.
Despite a master plan that calls for adding 33 miles of bike lanes along roads within the city, little progress has been made – mostly because of the resistance from residents along the planned paths. The main reason, say opponents, is that the streets where the new lanes will go could lose a signifi- cant number of trees. Proponents say it won’t be that bad, and the benefits to safety and health far outweigh any cost. So far, the lovers of the canopy have blocked any new bikes lanes.
With 40 miles of waterway and direct access to Biscayne Bay, Coral Gables is a boater’s paradise. With this feature we looked at the social, economic and lifestyle impact that our waterfront real estate – and its armada of yachts – has on the City Beautiful. The great advantage the city has compared to nearby competitors for big boaters (like Fort Lauderdale) is immediate access to the open bay, along with interesting places to sail or motor off to for a visit. The benefit is vast expenditures for the local economy – and a city with a great roster of successful people calling it home.