South Florida Teardowns and McMansions

single story homes found in neighborhoods along the Intracoastal Waterway in South Florida

According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Florida is among the states they identified in 2002 that is experiencing teardowns in historic neighborhoods where McMansions are becoming more and more commonplace.  In 2002 they identified 100 communities in 20 states and, unfortunately, just about four years later that number soared to more than 300 communities in 33 states that are being impacted by teardowns.  The photo on the left is an example of what a typical neighborhood in South Florida looked like before some of the smaller, single-story older homes were replaced with newer, larger homes (as shown in the photo below).

There were 21 Florida cities identified (13 of which are in Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade Counties): Boca Raton, Bradenton Beach, Coral Gables, Delray Beach, Fort Lauderdale (Rio Vista), Gulf Stream, Hollywood (Lakes), Juno Beach, Jupiter Island, Lighthouse Point, Marco Island, Miami (Coconut Grove, West Grove), Naples, North Miami Beach, Ocean Ridge, Old Marco, Palm Beach, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee, and Tampa.

An example of a Florida McMansion next to an older one-story home.The term “McMansions” is a slang architectural term and is often used to describe the house built to replace the teardown.  In Florida, McMansions are typically much bigger than the original house on the site and they tend to stand out in a neighborhood that mostly consists of older and smaller, one-story homes with roomy front and back yards. Sometimes this new construction is not welcomed by neighbors because it destroys the original character of the neighborhood. Immediate neighbors sometimes complain of the negative impact it has on their property with regards to restricted views, reduced sunlight to their house or yard, as well as property values.  Local leaders are often either not able or willing to prevent these teardowns that forever change the landscape of historic neighborhoods.

Most of the McMansions around South Florida are located in neighborhoods where homes are either on, or have access to, the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW).  The land is often much more valuable than the original home that’s on the property and some of the teardowns are done by owners who have lived on the property for several years and love the location but simply want a newer, larger home.  In some cases, it’s luxury home developers who are buying the older homes, tearing them down and if the lot is large enough to allow it, they build more than one new home which makes for a very nice return on their investment.  These newer custom homes are typically full of luxurious details and features not found in older homes.

Among other terms that you may hear used in place of “McMansions” are: “monster home,” “faux chateaux,” and “starter castle.”

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