As with many of Miami’s historic neighborhoods, the South of Fifth “SoFi” neighborhood in Miami Beach enjoyed its heydays in the 1950′s. Miami Beach had a reputation as the “American Riviera” with its beaches, hotels, tropical weather, mobsters and star power. However, the area was ethnically divided with SoFi as home to a thriving, mostly Jewish community, while the areas to the north and even some hotels had little tolerance for diversity. A number of hotels had “restricted clientele” rules and some properties transferred with deeds prohibiting “Hebrew blood.”
By the 1970′s, however, SoFi had become a haven for Jewish retirees and the younger generation stopped moving in. As the area declined, the city formed what was known as the “Committee to Keep Greater Miami Beach Young.” In an effort to eliminate most of the structures south of Fifth Street, the city created the South Shore Redevelopment Area in 1973. The city leader’s imagined that the $400-million plan would completely revitalize the area. Unfortunately, it all but guaranteed the area’s decline.
Many theories exist as to why the plan failed so dismally, but clearly it influenced property owners to stop taking care of their existing buildings. As the neighborhood was so cheap, it attracted the poor and crime and drugs became rampant. Unfortunately, things continued to get worse and it was not until the mid 1990′s that interest re-emerged to invest in the SoFi area.
Today the SoFi neighborhood represents the success that major redevelopment can produce. The area is very safe, it boasts a highly ranked elementary school, South Pointe Park, many successful businesses, restaurants, hotels, nightclubs and some of the most expensive real estate in Miami. Every weekend the beach is packed with locals and tourists. There are several iconic luxury condo projects in the SoFi area, including the Apogee, Murano Grande, Icon, Continuum North and South, Portofino Tower, Murano at Portofino, in addition to several currently under construction.