When Tim Will was the mayor of Surfside, Florida, he asked the management of Indian Creek Village – a neighbouring but much more affluent area – about combining police departments to save money.
“They said, ‘Your police are union. Ours are more like butlers in uniforms,’ ” Will told The Post.
“The mayor of Indian Creek told me that if somebody’s maid doesn’t show up, they call the police and the police will take out the garbage for them.”
It’s just one of the many perks awaiting Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, who are poised to build a home in Miami’s exclusive Indian Creek Village, aka the Billionaire Bunker, after purchasing an 80,000-square-foot (7432-square-metre) lot from South American pop star Julio Iglesias.
The gated private island is a paradise where multimillion-dollar homes look like private resorts, docking slips are as common as driveways and having one’s own yacht is de rigueur, according to Realtor Brett Harris.
Even though the island is only 297 acres (4046 square metres) and there is just one street that encircles the whole thing, Ivanka and Jared aren’t likely to bump into their famous supermodel, sports-star and financier neighbours.
“Nobody is ever on the streets,” Paul George, historian for HistoryMiami Museum, told The Post. “People are in their houses, behind their houses or in the country club.”
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Indian Creek Village is an exclusive municipality complete with its own mayor and police force.
Its 30 or so residences are watched over by 13 cops, including some who cruise the shoreline by boat.
In the middle of the island stands the elite Indian Creek Country Club, which features one of the top golf courses in Florida.
Jared and Ivanka’s acreage at 4 Indian Creek Road boasts 200 feet (61 metres) of private bay front and is said to have run the couple, who have three children, in excess of US$31 million (A$40.8 million).
Current residents on the island include investment guru Edward Lampert, whose 13-bathroom house cost US$38.4 million (A$50.5 million); Hotels.com co-founder Robert Diener (he purchased his 17,100-square-foot (5212-square-metre) estate for US$19.2 million (A$25 million) and retired Victoria’s Secret Angel Adriana Lima – who paid US$9 million (A$11.8 million) for her mansion in 2009.
Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen purchased a comparatively modest 5172-square-foot (1576-square-metre) home at 26 Indian Creek Island Road for US$17 million (A$22 million). They are said to be tearing it down and building anew.
Don Shula, the late coach of the Miami Dolphins, lived there up to his death in May.
Former Knicks coach Rick Pitino resided in Indian Creek Village from 1999 until earlier this year, when he sold his mansion – complete with an elevator and 10½ bathrooms – for US$17 million (A$22 million).
Jay-Z and Beyoncé owned a seven-bedroom Mediterranean-style spread from around 2006 until 2010, before selling it to Dutch businessman Geert-Jan Bakker for US$9.3 million (A$12.2 million). Supermodel Elle Macpherson lived on the island with hotelier husband Jeffrey Soffer until their 2017 split.
According to Harris, the most recent major Indian Creek mansion went up some 10 years ago. Ultra-modern with glass walls and pink sand imported from the Bahamas on the private beach, it comes with a 3-D movie theatre, recording studio, spa and rooftop infinity pool.
“It is the most expensive [single family] house to have been sold in Miami Dade County,” architect Rene Gonzalez told The Post.
The posh pad went for US$47 million (A$62 million) in 2011 and earlier this year broke its own record: US$50 million (A$65.8 million) from a buyer believed to be from the Middle East. (Both times, broker Oren Alexander was involved in the deal.)
“The most unusual feature in that home is the panic room,” added Gonzalez. “You can lock yourself in there and have a direct connection with the police in the event of a burglary.”
It’s unusual in that there’s not a lot of panicking on the man-made island, which was created in the 1920s as an adjunct to the luxury housing development Miami Shores.
The Billionaire Bunker experienced zero break-ins between 2015 and 2018 – maybe because its 13 police officers cover around 30 residences. For safekeeping, aquatic police circle the island 24/7.
Still, that level of security did not cut it for Saudi prince Turki bin Abdul Aziz al Saud. After the Gulf War in 1991, he took refuge in a $3.2 home at 2 Indian Creek Road.
“[The prince] lived a nocturnal life, getting up at 5 or 6 o’clock in the evening,” said Norman Braman, a luxury-auto mogul who bought the home next door, 1 Indian Creek Road, in 19’91 for US$3.9 million (A$5 million).
“But his children went on walks and were accompanied by armed guards with tommy guns. The island put a stop to it.” The prince later moved away.
Like all the homeowners on the island, the prince could claim exquisite views of Biscayne Bay as well as the country club’s golf course.
But that didn’t mean he was allowed to play there. As Realtor Dora Puig told The Post, to live in Indian Creek Village “you just have to purchase [a property]. Becoming a member of the country club, though, can be tough. It is very exclusive … and they have their own criteria.”
As recently as 2000, Jewish members there were a rarity. As reported in the Orlando Sentinel, Indian Creek Country Club back then had 300 members – many of whom lived off-island – with only a few who were Jewish.
And there was only one Jewish member who actually lived on the island at the time: investor Carl Icahn, who moved to Indian Creek in 1997 and joined the club that same year.
According to the paper, Icahn, who made his name as a corporate-takeover specialist, did not want to discuss how he secured membership. He simply said: “I joined the club because I wanted to play tennis. I’m not into the politics of it.”
Braman, at the time, described the seemingly anti-Semitic situation as “offensive.” These days, though, he seems to view it as a remnant of a bygone era: “The country club [now] has a number of Jewish members,” he said, adding that he is not one of them. “I am not a golfer.”
But he is an art collector, and Indian Creek’s large lots served as a primary draw for Braman and his wife, Irma Miller – providing enough space for a home that could accommodate what The Art Newspaper describes as “one of the greatest private collections of classic American art.”
Braman, who, along with his wife, funded the construction of the Institute of Contemporary Art in Miami, keeps stunning metal sculptures by Calder and Miró in his backyard.
Just don’t try popping in unannounced for a peek. On an island known for privacy, there’s not much spontaneous socialising. Braman admitted he’s never “set eyes on” his next-door neighbour.
“The Indian Creek lifestyle is private,” said a Miami socialite who asked not to be identified for professional reasons. “There is not a sense of community. There are no neighbourhood picnics. If you’re a certain type of person you do not need unknown people courting you and wanting to be your friend.”
This article originally appeared on Page Six and was reproduced here with permission