Long time observers of local real estate development might surely ask, “What has gotten into the masters of the universe that control the Miami skyline?” During the last boom, most projects relied on a highly refined economic model. The “vision” was frequently provided by the developer working with zoning lawyers to maximize the allowable square footage and height.
Miami sits near the southern tip of the Floridian peninsula, a city built atop a slab of limestone after water was rerouted and cleared from the Everglades, largely over the course of the last century. Residents have braved growing pains, real-estate busts, a political exile, and crime waves of Cocaine Cowboys lore. But apart from hurricanes, which haven’t been on the area’s radar much since Katrina, Rita and Wilma left parts of the city resembling a bar-side Jenga game in late 2005, the only attention local government pays to climate is the amount of sunny days a year it can market to tourists.
Ali Baba Avenue crisscrosses Sinbad Avenue around the corner from Aladdin and Sesame Streets. Marketers shortened the Seminole name of the area, Opa-tisha-wocka-locka, to an appellation heard as vaguely eastern sounding to those buying and selling exotic make-believe. Similarly concerned that prospects crossing Scheherazade Street might stumble over too many letters, they convinced Curtiss to name it Sharazad Blvd.
When you visit Bogotá, they tell you to go to the Gold Museum. They tell you to go to the Botero Museum, which is around the corner and shares a courtyard with the Museo del Banco de la República. They tell you to take the funicular up to the church on Monserrate, but you mustn’t move too quickly, because the city itself is 8,661 feet above sea level; in the mountains it’s over 10,000. Yes, many suffer from altitude sickness, which shares its symptoms with the flu, carbon monoxide poisoning, or hangover. While you’re here, you need to drink aguardiente, you need to eat chicharrón, have you visited the Gold Museum? Oh, and don’t get into a cab, or you’ll be kidnapped.