By John Ruiz
Surely you’ve noticed the post-World War II style homes and MiMo buildings that give Normandy Isles such a unique European charm, unlike anywhere else in Miami.
On a recent press tour, they provided the perfect backdrop to discuss the area’s revival. With its conveniences, style and culture, the island village is bound to be the next “hot” neighborhood.
We spoke and met with business and community leaders, and other stakeholders around all the activity underway. And here’s a glimpse of what Normandy Isles has to offer, today and tomorrow.
Normandy Isles, in North Beach, is centrally located. Just across the 79th Street Causeway. The tropical island is lined with MiMo architecture, picturesque canals and waterways where dolphins and other marine life can be frequently observed.
Picture getting up in the morning with the smell of salt in the air, palm trees dancing in the wind with seagulls flying by. You walk down to the local bakery and grab a croissant and cappuccino while you sift through your twitter news feed. Shortly after that, you catch the new free trolley that takes you to Collins Ave on North Miami Beach where you enjoy an afternoon sunbathing session.
Grab a local dish from Sazon Cuban Cuisine and idly make your way home for a nap before you carry out your evening plans. If that sounds like a fantasy, it’s no accident! Henri Levy envisioned this expansion in the 20’s and left his mark by raising the Normandy Fountain, which at the time was practically at the water-edge. Levy, a successful silent film theater owner would be delighted that today’s residents and neighbors of the area can watch international and independent films at the newly minted O-Cinema Miami Beach. Even the North Beach Bandshell is getting a makeover. Laura Quinlan, founder of the Rhythm Foundation has helped keep it alive with yearly events.
“I love working with Miami Beach venues – The Fillmore, Colony Theater, the North Beach Bandshell. I’m excited to hear of the retractable roof and state of the art sound system that will surely improve and accelerate the cultural growth of this town.”
“Street life builds a community,” said Miami Beach Chamber President and Normandy Isles Resident Jerry Libbin. He and President of the North Beach Development Corporation, Carol Housen, spoke to the growing list of locally-owned restaurants, a weekly farmer’s market, the walkable infrastructure of the neighborhood, and the expansion of the iconic fountain entrance to further create a public place for gathering.
In terms of restaurants, Normandy Isles boasts an incredible offering of international cuisine, from Morrocan, Cuban, to Japanese, just to name a few.
Oh, by the way, the police stand behind the growth and improvement of the neighborhood. Their dedication and efforts in safety and crime prevention have changed the tide. According to North District Officer Julio Blanco, “20 years ago, the area had one of the highest crime rates in the city, today it’s down to the lowest.” You’ll probably see Blanco, or Miami Beach Police Captain Enrique Doce next time you’re in North Beach, as they frequently patrol the streets and beach in their badass golf carts.
Speaking of golf carts, did you know Normandy Isles has its own golf course? I’m not that big on golf myself, but I know plenty of new homeowners and art collectors who would go ape shit over living walking distance to a course that has pelicans chilling in a bunker.
Across the way from the golf course is a new, secluded townhome community called Iris on the Bay. Marked by a contemporary European design, spacious units, two-car garages, boat slips and waterfront acreage, it’s an ideal abode for sophisticated island living. And to boot, it’s offered at a mighty competitive price point, the lowest in all of Miami Beach for waterfront, new construction.
According to Mark Weithorn, Chair of the Transportation and Parking Committee and proud resident of Normandy Isle, the city is investing in improving the many open water areas to include kayak docks and benches, to kick back and take in some of the most incredible views of Biscayne Bay.
The City of Miami Beach is an entitlement community receiving annual federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, which means an estimated $250,000 will be available for capital public service projects EVERY YEAR. This includes the renovations to the North Beach Bandshell where there will also be improvements to the overall look and feel of North Beach businesses due to the Façade Improvement Program.
I’m personally excited to hear of the retractable roof and state of the art sound system at the Bandshell that will surely improve and accelerate the cultural growth of this town.
My favorite piece of the puzzle is the fact that runners, bikers, and boardwalk enthusiasts will be able to enjoy a hike from South Pointe all the way into North Miami Beach and beyond! Thanks to the five large-scale park projects that are soon to be underway connecting Miami Beach unlike ever before. It seems there has never been a better time to start thinking about moving to North Beach and Normandy Isles!