The numero-uno subject for discussion these days, other than sex, is real estate- although judging by some of the soft-core ad campaigns for new condos the two have become synonymous. Our not quite-yet-world-class city is experiencing the greatest boom in its history, and even those people who aren’t real estate moguls have experienced joy in watching the value of their small apartments increase exponentially. So naturally, everybody-from professional dog walkers to investment kingpins-talks about real estate and knows that land downtown on the Biscayne corridor has become stratospherically priced and in very short supply. That’s means the big question echoing off the walls these days is, what is the next area ripe for development?
The Touzet Studio, the relatively new architectural firm of talented husband and wife Carlos Prio-Touzet and Jacqueline Gonzalez-Touzet, may have the answer in South Miami. While the area is not yet on many people’s radar screens- there are no trendy artists’ studios or galleries, no ocean or bay vistas, and no hot hotels or clubs- a lot of good stuff is going on in the area around it.
But the real secret of South Miami may be that it is an almost idyllic example of a small, well-managed, rationally zoned city that offers a nice balance of town and country. It’s also a really nice place to live. Carlos, whose father, Carlos Prio Socarras, was a former president of Cuba, and Jacqueline are so impressed with the city they plan to move their family there.
Their new development will be in step with the South Miami ethos-a mixed use building covering an entire city block with apartments, town houses, offices, parking and retail spaces in what could have been an unseemly four-story blockhouse in other, less experienced, hands. Fortunately, the Touzets’commitment to design, painstaking eye for detail, and humanistic approach to architecture ensure that they will be creating a glorious building and not an eyesore. The structures four facades will be finished with different materials to create the illusion of being several buildings instead of one huge construction. Full-height, stitched-in glass panels set at intervals will lighten the mass of the building, and arcaded sidewalks dripping with bougainvillea, with a nod to the Early-Palm Beach designs of Addison Mizner, will create exterior ͞rooms.͟ Passageways through the façade will open to small, individually designed landscape courtyards, where shoppers and pedestrians can sit and relax.
Residents of this first true live-work residential project in South Miami’s city center will be able to walk to shops, restaurants, and movie theaters. Planned units will range from two-bedroom Parisian-style flats to town houses with private elevators. All units will feature spacious, covered balconies and loggias. The project is part of a three block downtown renewal and is just one if the large-scale projects that the Touzet Studio plans for South Miami.