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Fort Lauderdale neighborhood redevelopment


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Lauderdale OKs `slum' development

By Brittany Wallman

Staff Writer

Posted December 22 2004

Picking up the pace of development in the area north of Broward Boulevard, developers are pushing three more major residential plans on a receptive city commission.

Commissioners approved one Tuesday night, a funky mid-rise with an industrial flair on the cusp of northwest Fort Lauderdale. Two other residential projects planned in the urban core north of Broward Boulevard are making their way toward approval.

Much of the downtown area north of Broward Boulevard is officially considered "slum and blighted" and is within the Community Redevelopment Agency boundary for that reason. Developers have seized on the area and its tiny old cottages in disrepair, and have bought enough land to build or plan projects that will change its skyline and flavor. They hope to turn the neighborhood into a residential village feeding the downtown business district.

Some projects are under construction or built. Many more are in the planning stages. These are under, or have passed, commission review:

411 Brickell: A smattering of industrial buildings and warehouses on the eastern fringe of northwest Fort Lauderdale, on Northwest First Avenue, will be demolished and replaced with a seven-story mid-rise with 36 residential units and some retail and office space. Commissioners approved developer Alan Hooper's project, which lies within the CRA, in a unanimous vote Tuesday night.

Strada 315: Just outside the CRA boundaries and north of Broward Boulevard, Strada 315 LLC plans a 20-story tower with 117 residential units and retail space on Northeast Third Avenue. Commissioners said the building meets the city's design guidelines, but they tabled the project after Vice Mayor Dean Trantalis said he didn't like the way the building looks. The project will return for a vote Jan. 4.

"While I think the project as a whole is a very important contribution to our downtown, I just feel it needs refinement," Trantalis said.

300 Third: Across the street from Strada 315, this residential project by Charlie Ladd's Las Olas Properties Inc. was scheduled for public and staff review at a Development Review Committee meeting Tuesday. Ladd proposes 278 residential units plus office and retail space.

Bronwyn Batiste: Farther north of downtown, John W. McGinnis plans to build 35 residential units on Northeast 14th Court. Commissioners tabled a vote Tuesday night because of problems with maps supplied for the requested plat approval.

Just two weeks ago, commissioners endorsed two other residential projects in the same area -- a 169-unit, mixed-use, mixed-income project for Andrews Avenue and Northeast Sixth Street, and a 72-unit complex called Xposed, on Northeast Fourth Avenue and Seventh Street.

Tuesday night, though, commissioners said they would reconsider their approval for Xposed, in deference to Trantalis, who had complained he didn't like the design because it was too bland.

The city evaluates each project individually, without discussion of other projects planned or approved nearby. But the whole is expected to transform the area into an urban village.

The city's downtown master plan, a document outlining the city's vision and driving principles for its downtown, encourages the kind of dense, compact residential building that is going on now.

Though more than a dozen residential mid- and high-rises are under way downtown already, city officials thirst for more population density there, hoping it will transform Fort Lauderdale into a full-blown urban area where people walk and use mass transit.

Development has become a controversial issue in the changing city, but the ideas driving city officials are spelled out clearly in their relatively new downtown master plan, which commissioners approved unanimously. It reads:

"Principle 1: Capture a greater share of regional redevelopment."

"Principle 2: Increase residential uses downtown, with supporting amenities."

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Yeah, I just left there this past August after 10 years, and I can't believe what is already on the drawing boards or thrusting through the atmosphere.

This City (Fort Lauderdale) is going to surpass Tampa and Miami in the next few years in importance, population, and consumer destination demand. It is exploding.

The explosion began in 2000. When I moved there in 1995, very little construction or anything was going on. Downtown was dead, and outside of the snowbirds coming to visit each year, Fort Lauderdale was a "non mover."

This has now changed for whatever reason. This town is now a full blown city and has awakened from its snooze. I look for Fort Lauderdale to become a rival to Miami in many different ways.

Look for more office towers to be built and more towers in the "tall" order, that is 500 feet tall or more to begin to thrust the Lauderdale skyline.


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