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In Miami Beach, buyers and builders turn to elevated homes amid rising concerns of floods

January 1, 2019

Rene Gonzalez’s home on Farrey Lane; and Jose Sanchez, Todd Michael Glaser and Rene Gonzalez

A growing number of Miami Beach homes are being designed with living spaces higher off the ground, as homeowners and builders try to protect against flooding and rising sea levels. The trend follows a July city ordinance that eased a height limit restriction beneath single-family homes, local officials, architects and developers said.

Under the previous code, the allowable space between the ground-floor and the home’s first floor could not exceed seven feet. The newly passed ordinance allows for homes to be lifted farther off the ground, but only with city Design Review Board approval.

Rendering of 40 West Rivo Alto Drive

That’s what prompted architect Rene Gonzalez to design his own home on Farrey Lane in the Venetian Islands. Built next to the water, the house is elevated 15 feet and features a tropical living area with a barbecue and lounge beneath its first floor.

Another one of his projects, at 2038 Prairie Avenue, was built with a retractable staircase that connects residents from the ground floor to the home’s first floor.

Gonzalez’s home is part of a series he’s working on in Miami Beach, each expected to list for several million dollars. In the future, he said, versions of those designs will be used to build less costly homes in the most flood-prone areas.

And it will pay off, Gonzalez said. “In the long-term, they are more economical as they are more resilient.”

Luxury home developer, Todd Michael Glaser is also incorporating the added understory areas to his homes. He’s building at least five elevated homes in the city, and just began construction on another at 1635 West 22nd Street.

Elevated homes began popping up in Miami Beach in 2014, primarily on Palm and Hibiscus islands — the lowest areas in the city. In the ensuing years, homeowners have learned to take advantage of every inch of space, and with the new ordinance, are able to raise the home higher off the ground without exceeding the overall height limit.

To a casual observer, it may not be obvious that the homes are elevated, and that is by design. Gates, greenery and decorated entrances serve to mask the beams that support and lift the structures.

Rendering of 2120 Lucerne Avenue

 

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