Doral is a city in Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States. One of thirty-four municipalities in the county, it is located just one mile (1.6 km) from Miami International Airport and 13 miles (21 km) from Downtown Miami. The city regularly hosts in excess of 100,000 people who work in Miami. The City of Doral occupies a land area of 15 square miles (39 km2) bordered on the west by the Ronald Reagan Turnpike, to the north by the Town of Medley, to the east by the Palmetto Expressway and to the South by the City of Sweetwater. Doral is a principal city of the Miami metropolitan area, which was home to an estimated 6,012,331 people at the 2015 census.
Doral has operated under the Mayor-Council-Manager form of government since incorporation. Policymaking and legislative authority are vested in a governing council consisting of the mayor and four other council members. The Council, which is elected at large, is responsible among other things, for passing ordinances and resolutions, adopting the annual budget, appointing the City Manager, City Clerk, and City Attorney. The City Manager is responsible for carrying out the policies and ordinances of the Council, for overseeing the daily operations of the government, and for appointing the heads of various departments.
For a city of its size, Doral has many shops, financial institutions, and businesses, especially importers and exporters, primarily because of its proximity to the airport. In 2008, Fortune Small Business and CNN Money ranked Doral as 51 on a list of 100 cities with the best mix of business advantages and lifestyle appeal.
Doral is sometimes nicknamed, “Doralzuela” for its large Venezuelan population, which began moving to Doral in earnest around the time of Doral’s incorporation in 2003. In 2013, it was estimated that about 28% of the population of Doral was of Venezuelan descent, the largest concentration of Venezuelan expatriates in the US.
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In the late 1950s, real estate pioneers Alfred and Doris Kaskel purchased 2,400 acres of swampland between Northwest 36 Street and Northwest 74 Street and from Northwest 79 Avenue to Northwest 117 Avenue for about $49,000, intending to build a golf course and hotel. In 1962, the Doral Country Club opened in western Dade County, featuring the blue, red and par-3 golf courses, along with a hotel on Miami Beach. The “Doral” name combined Doris and Alfred. As Doral’s very first structure, the Doral Hotel, and Country Club became the area’s hot spot: guests were transported from the beach to the country club for a day on the golf course.
In the second year of operations, the Kaskels hosted the first Doral Open Invitational, Florida’s major PGA event. Alfred offered $50,000 in prize money to attract well-known golfers. According to the South Florida Golf Foundation, at the time only three other tournaments were held in Florida, offering a combined total of $65,000 prize money.
By the early 1980s, Doral started to experience its first residential growth spurt, when Alfred’s and Doris’ grandson Bill developed Doral Estates, followed by a joint venture with Lennar Corporation to build Doral Park. Both communities were named after the hotel, a trend that was to be repeated many more times. Although younger families started flooding the area, there were no stores, schools, or parks. Initially, most new homes were investment properties or second homes, but early full-time residents started coming together as a community.
From 1983 to 1985, Miami-Dade County imposed a building moratorium to protect the area’s water wells. Once the ban was lifted, Doral experienced tremendous growth. In 1989, Morgan Levy helped organize the West Dade Federation of Homeowner Associations to stand strong against any proposals that threatened the community’s welfare. Thus, they secured a police station instead of a jail, as well as convinced county officials to implement higher development standards as well as more lighting, roads, and landscaping.
In 1995, residents began lobbying for incorporation in earnest, dissatisfied with the high tax rate relative to the services they received, as well as unchecked growth. The county met the first attempt at incorporation with a year’s deferral. Some classified Doral as a “donor community,” meaning that the taxes paid were more than the cost of operations. With the deferral, incorporation efforts intensified even more. In 1996, the community elected its first community council: Jose “Pepe” Cancio, Sr., Mario Pita, and Barbara B. Thomas were elected and three other members were appointed. The council initially met once every month.
In 2002, Governor Jeb Bush appointed Cancio to fill the remainder of Miami-Dade Commissioner Miriam Alonso’s term of office. Doral residents hoped that his appointment would bring the community closer to incorporation, and their hopes were realized. Although Cancio endorsed Juan Carlos Bermudez, the City of Doral’s first elected Mayor, as his replacement on the Community Council, Bermudez declined the offer, ran for the seat and was elected. At the time, Bermudez was president of One Doral, a civic organization formed to counteract the perceived influence of the West Dade Federation on the new Council. However, both One Doral and the West Dade Federation proved essential to the incorporation process.
In January 2003, following a seven-year battle, 85% of Doral’s voters voted in favor of incorporation. In June of the same year, 92% voted to accept the City Charter and elected their first Mayor and City Council.
The new City of Doral was named as an attractive location for entrepreneurs with an interest in the Latin America market. Mayor Luigi Boria, elected in November 2012, became the second Venezuelan-American mayor in the United States. He was replaced by Juan Carlos Bermudez who won a reelection bid in 2016.