By Max Crampton-Thomas
2 min read September 2019 — A community redevelopment agency’s main purpose is to encourage public and private investment into an area to help promote economic growth and improve the quality of life of residents. In a flourishing county like Broward, CRA’s play an important role in helping to grow the local economies and development activity throughout the region. A prime example is the Dania Beach Community Redevelopment Agency. Its work is helping to revitalize and redevelop the city of Dania Beach. Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale had the opportunity to speak with Rickelle Williams, Executive Director for the Dania Beach CRA. Her passion for promoting and spearheading economic growth in Dania Beach was front and center during our conversation, in which she discussed the work the CRA is doing to promote this growth, the status of the new City Center initiative and how the CRA’s focus has broadened to include residential revitalization.
How is the CRA working to promote economic growth in Dania Beach?
The CRA has been spearheading a rebranding initiative on behalf of the city of Dania Beach to promote economic growth. Last year, the city adopted a new logo and slogan: “Sea it. Live it. Love it.” We have been implementing the rebranding initiative through signage at our parks and in neighborhoods as well as through advertising, marketing and public relations.
These are some of the methods we are using to get the Dania Beach brand out there and to let people know that if they have not discovered Dania Beach yet, now is a great time. To attract business, we promote our incentive programs, Opportunity Zones, and proximity to Port Everglades and Fort Lauderdale International Airport. In addition, the CRA produces an award-winning staple event going into its eighth year, the Dania Beach Arts and Seafood Celebration, recently drawing 19,000 people over a two-day weekend to one of our public parks. This free event is a way to bring people together for art, music, kids’ activities, and to showcase the quality of life in Dania Beach. We’ve also added a monthly street festival and art walk called Dania After Dark to add vibrant activity to our Downtown in preparation for our City Center Redevelopment initiative.
How is the process going for the new City Center initiative?
The Dania Beach Community Redevelopment Agency is leading a public-private partnership redevelopment initiative for Dania Beach City Hall, parking garage, library, and fire station as a new mixed-use City Center. The reconceived 6.5-acre site would provide an improved customer experience, a better working environment, needed housing, job creation, commercial and entertainment development, and stimulate a broader redevelopment of the city’s Downtown. We engaged FIU Metropolitan Center to research the city’s market capacity, engage the public in a discussion of possibilities and priorities and provide the city with an action agenda to move the City Center concept from idea to development. We later engaged with Colliers International South Florida through its government division to market the property and issue a request for proposals for parcels collectively appraised at $12.3 million. Three proposals were submitted and are under evaluation.
How has the CRA’s focus changed or broadened over the last year?
The CRA has traditionally focused on commercial investments and incentives, but for the first time we’ve incorporated residential revitalization into our cache of programs and initiatives. We started the At Home Dania Beach Program to make people feel at home in their community. This is a comprehensive approach to residential revitalization that encompasses several strategies. Those strategies include down-payment assistance, where we offer up to $20,000 to first-time homebuyers who meet our eligibility criteria. We are also developing single-family homes through our affordable housing development program. We have several homes that are in the development process, and we anticipate adding more homes in the coming months. We also provide a residential beautification grant where eligible homeowners can receive some financial help for landscaping or painting. When people recognize that there is an investment in the community, they take more pride in their homes and improve the quality of life and tax base.
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