Been going to this part of Florida for several years now, an unassuming area north of the madness populated with mom-and-pop motels and resorts and beach clubs that were probably really grand in, say, 1973. I love the lively little pool- and ocean-side bars in these places, where many retired New Yorkers and other locals mingle with the tourists. There's often a glorious feeling of community spirit.
But. For how long? There is no escape. The high-rise condos and hotels have been making their way up the beach in recent years. Someone needs to start a blog about the (possible) end of days here.
In March 2002, the Times had an article on the condo boom in the area:
''I had a guy who bought a unit here, get this, who worked at U.P.S. his entire life,'' said Gil Dezer, president of Dezer Development, the city's largest landowner. ''If you saw the guy on the street, you wouldn't think he had a dime to his name. But he was a shareholder when U.P.S. went public and he is a millionaire. He bought a $400,000 unit with $80,000 down.''
Several years ago, envisioning just that sort of demand, Mr. Dezer's father, the New York developer Michael Dezer, started buying up all the property he could, including blocks of bargain-rate motels dotting the oceanfront, offering rooms for $39.95 per night with free cable television.
''Every owner, I was after him to sell to me,'' said Michael Dezer, who with his son has since bought 27 acres of prime oceanfront real estate here and replaced the old motels with 11 hotels and resorts.
The latest father-son project is a collaboration with Mr. Trump, the Trump Grande Ocean Resort and Residence. It is a $600 million condominium and hotel development where units start at $350,000 for a studio and go up to $5 million for a penthouse with pool.
Meanwhile, I'll celebrate the people and the places that make this area what it is. (Yes, pretty cheesy. Still.)
The poolside bar entertainment at the Monaco Resort.
At the Thunderbird Beach Resort.
Finally. Overheard poolside. A young man from Kentucky bragging about a wealthy New Yorker he knows: