In Miami’s Flagler Street Area, Investors Pay High Prices for Low-Rent Properties

August 25, 2015

A new train station in downtown Miami – the first in over 85 years is coming thanks to the new, privately funded and to be privately operated All Aboard Florida, which will offer 16 daily roundtrips between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando. The Wall Street Journal highlights what is happening to nearby real estate in the historic part of Miami’s downtown along Flagler Street.

Miami was just a village until Henry Flagler and his Florida East Coast Railway came to town at the end of the 19th Century and transformed Miami from a sleepy hamlet into a bustling winter season tourist attraction. Miami was the southern terminus of his railroad before he pushed it south over the Florida Keys to Key West. And, Miami prospered through the first part of the 20th Century as FECs rival Seaboard Air Line Railroad also came to Miami, building its line from the middle of the Florida peninsula east to West Palm Beach and then due south to Miami.

The original Florida East Coast wooden passenger station in downtown Miami survived into the middle of the 20th Century, and then was torn down. The new All Aboard Florida station and accompanying major development will be on the same land as the former wooden FEC station.

The original Seaboard Air Line passenger station was built several blocks to the northwest of the FEC station in the late 1920s and survived until the Amtrak era in the 1970s when it was abandoned for a new suburban Miami-area station in nearby Hialeah in what was formerly the Seaboard coach yards. Today, that station is being replaced by a new Miami Central Station as part of the Miami International Airport complex south of downtown Miami. It is scheduled to open in the next year as construction is finished.

Both the FEC and Seaboard prospered with passenger service to Florida during the 1920s and the roaring Florida Land Boom. When the land boom went bust, the two railroads (and, the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, which sent its trains originating in New York City to Miami by using the FEC tracks from Jacksonville, south) felt a huge financial pinch. Both the Seaboard and the FEC would enter into receivership during the Great Depression, with the Seaboard emerging out of bankruptcy first. Eventually the Seaboard and Atlantic Coast Line would merge in 1967 to become Seaboard Coast Line and then merge again with the Chessie System to form today’s CSX Transportation.

Florida’s prosperity was built on the arrival of the railroads and the passengers they brought from the north. Today, The Wall Street Journal reports on a second land boom in Miami, this time the result of the new passenger service on the FEC tracks, All Aboard Florida. What’s old is new. – Website Editor


Some see potential in Flagler district, which had been largely ignored by developers for decades

For decades, investors and developers largely ignored Flagler Street in downtown Miami, home to some of the city’s oldest buildings. Commercial real-estate buyers focused instead on Brickell, its financial center.

That’s changing. Flagler Street, Miami’s historic main street lined with beauty parlors and variety stores, is attracting serious investors who are paying high prices for low-rent properties.

Older central business districts in many large cities, from New York to Chicago to Los Angeles, have gone through a renaissance in the last 10 years. Now, investors are betting that the time is right for Miami.

Read reporter Robyn A. Friedman’s full story in The Wall Street Journal by clicking here.


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