From gated communities to moated communities

From Oliver Bullough’s Moneyland pg 225-226. It’s hard not to see intimations of Elysium in developments like this:

Take Indian Creek, for example. It is a village in Miami-Dade County, Florida, which you approach through a quiet and pleasant residential neighbourhood, all groomed lawns and bungalows; where the streets lack sidewalks, but where there is so little traffic that walking on the road feels fine. Eventually, there is a bridge, with cream guard towers on either side of it, and a wrought-iron gate between them. If you try to step on to the bridge, a voice booms out of an intercom, asking your business. If you have no business there, or if your business is (like mine) idle curiosity, then you will be told it is a private island and that you must go elsewhere. To emphasise the point, there is a heavy police presence. At the last census, in 2010, Indian Creek had a population of eighty-six, which included four of America’s 500 richest people, as well as the singer Julio Iglesias, Colombian billionaire Jaime Galinski (whose base is London, but who also has homes in New York and a couple of other places), and various others, all with a combined net worth –according to the Miami Herald –of $ 37 billion. That sum is approximately equal to the annual economic output of Serbia, which has a population of more than 7 million people. Indian Creek’s police force employs ten full-time officers, plus four reserves, and four civilian public service aides, giving the community a police officer to resident ratio of around 1: 5, which is significantly higher even than that of East Germany at its most paranoid. The village is an island, so cannot be approached except by the bridge, but the police are taking no chances in protecting what their website calls ‘America’s most exclusive municipality’, and they run a marine patrol unit day and night, seven days a week. It is, in short, a moated community, where Moneyland can become real.

In 2012, one ten-bedroom, fourteen-bathroom house on the island sold for $ 47 million, making it south Florida’s most expensive ever property, according to the agents who closed the deal. The local press reported that the purchaser was a Russian billionaire. The photos of the house released by the agents show an airy, high-ceilinged mansion, modest yet enormous, with an infinity pool looking out on to Biscayne Bay, towards the sunrise. It has a dock with water deep enough for a superyacht, and is surrounded on the other three sides by the lush lawns of the island’s golf course. It bears about as much resemblance to an ordinary person’s house as a Bengal tiger does to a tabby cat, but it is simultaneously both tasteful and restrained. ‘Air flows in and out of the home like a deep, cleansing breath. In this open plan, where the line is eternally blurred between inside and out, entire walls part to allow the embrace of the refreshing bay breezes. Ceilings soar to incredible heights,’ the agents’ brief declares. But the closest you or me will get to it is standing at the end of the bridge, looking at a photo of it on your phone, while being intensely eyeballed by a policeman in mirrored sunglasses.

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