Morris Massre's Blog

Thoughts on South Florida Realty and the Planet in General

Rebuilding America’s Real Estate Market Begins in its Downtowns

1950's Columbia

A vintage 1950’s era black and white photo of Main St. in downtown Columbia, SC tells a story of a city’s past. You will notice the hustle and bustle that used to be. The other is the new Mast General Store that now occupies what used to be Lourie’s Men’s Store in the downtown area today. With the advent of the suburbs and malls people slowly moved out of the city and the downtowns across the country began its slow decent into oblivion. I vividly remember as a student at the University of South Carolina in the 1980’s how dead the area was. And I often wondered what it would take to bring it back because the suburbs were actually too far away as the college campus was downtown. I figured that something like South Beach in Miami would have to happen. That took lots of cafes, bars, and retail, something Columbia was seriously lacking.

What it takes are some smart and gutsy business people to come in and take a chance by opening a business there. Well, this finally started to happen last year when Lourie’s Men’s Store, a staple of the downtown area for years, finally closed its doors. Businessmen and politicians from the area stopped shopping. But low and behold, the Mast General Store took a chance and took the bottom of the old store and The Lofts apartments took the top. By doing so the two managed to bring people back downtown. More and more young professionals who are more and more disenchanted with the price of gas are making the move to downtown and walking to work. It seems that hybrids and smaller cars just were not working anymore. As it turns out, the apartments are renting at a fast pace because the demand has returned.

Now, some may call this gentrification, but in the case of Columbia, it can’t be because nobody was living there anymore. This, however, may now be the case in Miami, Florida.

I bring up Columbia as an example of what can be. I now live in Pembroke Pines, Florida, a suburb of Miami, and found that this too can happen in downtown Miami. If you have never been there, the heart, Flagler St., isn’t much to look at and pretty much shuts down after 5pm. My grandfather used to roam these streets in the 1940’s as a carpetbagger and the place used to hustle. He would not recognize now. But the good news is that others like me are starting to recognize the potential in the downtown area and are taking a chance in bringing back some of the old buildings by converting them into apartments, much like the The Lofts. One such building is Flagler First, a loft style apartment building exclusively represented by Fortune International Realty. The prices are more than reasonable and start at $94,000. for a loft or one bedroom. (See photo)

Flagler First

This too is a prime example of young professionals making their way back into downtown areas to be closer to work. And the main reason, besides the drive, is the price of gas. Everyone has now realized that the price is what it is and it’s not going to change. Wishful thinking. Now comes acceptance. Why buy and smaller car when you can just sell your bigger house in the suburbs, get rid of your car altogether, and walk to work? The savings are incredible when you think about it. In this case, gentrification may actually be a good thing. How else are you going to bring downtown Miami back?

If you think that this may be you and you are considering this type of move, contact me, Morris Massre, for more information about Flagler First and a viewing. You will be surprised at what can be. Visit my website for more information about me and other properties at http://www.myfloridarealty.net

The Lofts Apts.

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