Real estate development is booming in Fort Lauderdale

Real estate development is booming in Fort Lauderdale

By: Beatrice Silva 

2 min read –  Real estate development in Fort Lauderdale is getting a jolt of confidence despite the lingering impact of COVID-19. On March 24, a majority of businesses were forced to shut down after Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a statewide shelter-in-place order. However, construction companies, hospitals, grocery stores, gas stations and other essential businesses were allowed to carry on with work as usual.

 

Florida is just one of several states that allowed construction to continue despite nationwide shutdowns. Similar to many other regions in the area, development is a vital part of Fort Lauderdale’s economy. The construction industry is projected to have the largest industry increase in employment from 2014 to 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

A strong signal of the confidence in the market is a recent move by Oko Group, an international real estate development firm founded by Vladislav Doronin. It is the first company to close a large deal since the beginning of COVID-19. The firm recently purchased 6.68 acres of land east of the county courthouse in Downtown Fort Lauderdale for $62.59 million. “Oko Group is excited to expand its portfolio of South Florida real estate with the acquisition of a mixed-use development site in the heart of Fort Lauderdale’s urban core,” the developer said in a statement reported by South Florida Business Journal. “The Oko Group team, led by Doronin, now looks forward to working with the city of Fort Lauderdale to finalize plans for an exceptional development that will help to further transform the Downtown district while adding significant amenities for nearby residents and businesses.”

The majority of developments in the pipeline for Fort Lauderdale will most likely be residential. Retail and office real estate have proven themselves to be the weakest sectors in the market during the pandemic. “Prior to COVID-19, South Florida’s real estate sector was very strong, propelled by the demand and low interest rates. I think the commercial office market may see a bit of a correction. So many people are working from home and I imagine that most of them are going to continue to do that the rest of the year. I think business owners are getting more comfortable allowing their employees to work remotely. So far, the industrial and residential markets have proven themselves to be the strongest sectors in the real estate industry during the pandemic. I don’t think we’ll see any correction there. Currently, at Touchstone Webb Realty Company, we are watching retail and commercial as we move forward. We think it is going to take a good year before we see this sector begin to correct. We are still purchasing industrial and flex spaces for our clients,” Susan Thomas, president of Touchstone Webb Realty Company, told Invest: Palm Beach.

As Thomas mentioned, CDC regulations like social distancing have compelled more people to want to work from home. As a result, business owners could require less office space. Fairfield Cypress Creek is just one example of this trend. The new mixed-use project is currently underway between 6500 and 6520 N. Andrews Ave. The land which was originally occupied by office buildings will now hold 295 residential units, shops and restaurants. A new downtown could be another exciting project on the horizon for Broward County. Broward is recruiting a large company to relocate to the 140 acres next to the Everglades in Sunrise. “It’s one of the last few pieces you could make a statement. We really want to market this site internationally, not just nationally,” County Manager Bertha told the Sun Sentinel. 

 

 

South Florida’s Top Five Events for the Holiday Season

South Florida’s Top Five Events for the Holiday Season

By: Sara Warden

2 min read December 2019 — South Floridians may not expect a white Christmas, but there are still a plethora of entertainment options to get the kids into the holiday spirit. From Enchanted Forests to visits from Santa, there is plenty for all ages going on across the Miami, Palm Beach and Greater Fort Lauderdale areas. Capital Analytics counts down the top events in the run up to the big day!

 

 

 1. Christmas with the Chimps at Lion Country Safari

If you’re an animal lover, this is the place to be on Thursday, Dec. 19. For one day only, starting at 10.30am, guests at the Lion Country Safari park in Palm Beach will be able to leave their cars and watch as the chimps open Santa’s gifts. Entry is $39 for adults and $30 for children, and under twos go free!

Find out more here

2. Winterland at Pinto’s Farm

Located at 14890 SW 216 St, this farm park promises a huge range of activities, including holiday treats, face painting, a petting zoo, pony rides, hay rides and paddle boats. Why not venture into the enchanting illuminated forest and meet Santa Claus, Nix the Snowman and Sprinkle the Gingerbread cookie.

Find out more here.

3. “A Christmas Story: The Musical” at Broward Center for the Performing Arts

Brought to you from the songwriting team behind Tony-award-winning Dear Evan Hansen and La La Land, this show promises to be a festive treat for the ears. The show is based on the 1983 movie A Christmas Story, following protagonist Ralphie’s pursuit of his dream Christmas gift. Showings continue throughout the festive season and tickets are priced at $49-65, with discounts available for teachers and students.

Find out more here.

4. Santa’s Enchanted Forest at Tropical Park

With over 100 rides, shows and attractions, Santa’s Enchanted Forest is sure to spread the Christmas cheer. Running from the end of October until Jan. 5, the fun takes place at 7900 SW 40th Street and promises 3 million lights and a 92-inch Christmas tree, all within an amusement park. Tickets start at $28.60 for children and seniors.

Find out more here.

5. Brightline for The Polar Express train rides

Across selected dates from mid-November until Dec. 29, families can take the one-hour Polar Express train on the brand new Brightline route. Singing, dancing, cookies and hot chocolate are guaranteed to keep both the kids and adults happy before Santa climbs on board to hand out some Christmas gifts to the girls and boys on the nice list. Prices start from $55 for an adult and $50 for a child.

Find out more here

 

All Aboard! Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade Ready to Set Sail

All Aboard! Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade Ready to Set Sail

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read December 2019 — The annual Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade is just around the corner, and event organizers are adding the finishing touches to “The Greatest Show on H2O.” That’s no understatement, with an estimated economic impact of $50 million and 1 million live spectators, plus online and TV streams. “There is nothing like the Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade in the entire world,” said Lisa Scott-Founds, the event’s President and CEO.

 

Taking place on Dec. 14, the show – the seventh-largest one-day spectator event in the country – is not to be missed. “Private boats to the giant showboats and corporate megayachts will be adorned with hundreds of thousands of lights, music, entertainment, decorations, celebrities, musical groups, beauty queens and many other exciting entries,” the event’s website promises. Think the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but on water.

According to Scott-Founds, as a nonprofit organization, organizers are constantly innovating to think of new ways to make the event stand out without breaking the bank. “We always want to integrate the newest technology into our event, like the use of holograms, which we hope is a real possibility for this year,” she said. “We are always asking people, ‘What is something that you’ve never seen us do before?’ We take their suggestion, develop a budget to execute the idea and bring it to our board and possible sponsors to help with underwriting the “new wow factor idea.”

This year, the 12-mile parade route will begin at Stranahan House and will sail eastward into Fort Lauderdale to the Intracoastal Waterway, and ending at Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach. It costs a minimum of $35 to enter a boat with no advertising, while the heftiest sponsorship package comes in at a cool $65,000. Spectators can also purchase a ticket to the Grandstand Viewing Area inside the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park with prices starting at $25 for children 10 and under.

The economic bump in the county’s coffers comes at a good time, says Scott-Founds. “The beginning of December is a little slower for tourism, as opposed to other months when tourism in South Florida sees a boom, so we feel a responsibility to bring people into the region and put heads in beds,” she says.

For the event, it seems that all stakeholders in the area come together to enhance the experience for visitors. “Our success is due to collaboration with organizations like our Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau and working with area hotels,” says Scott-Founds. “Tourists should experience a Winterfest weekend, a show at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, eat at our restaurants and immerse themselves in our community. There is just so much to do in Fort Lauderdale, and in Broward County for that matter.”

To learn more, visit:

https://winterfestparade.com/

Can Demand Meet Supply?

Can Demand Meet Supply?

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read November 2019 — 4,500. That is the number of new hotel rooms expected to come online between now and 2024. This additional inventory will be on top of the 34,000 existing rooms already available in Broward County. New hotel developments and renovations like the opening of the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach, the $1.5 billion expansion of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and the upcoming addition of the Omni Hotel & Resorts as part of the massive expansion happening at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center, are all contributing factors to this significant increase in hotel room supply. The question now is whether demand in Broward County will match this increase in supply?

 

To begin to answer this question, it is important to understand how the hospitality sector in Broward has evolved over the years. Invest: spoke with Heiko Dobrikow, the general manager for one of the oldest and most successful hotels in the county: the Riverside Hotel located on Las Olas Boulevard. He discussed how the transformation of the sector was the result of deliberate action from past leaders. “Going back to the 1980s, we were the spring break capital of the world. The leadership then, the mayor and the business community, got together to make the city a little bit more upscale. Suddenly, the mom-and-pop hotels that we had on the beach became the Ritz Carlton, the Marriott, the Atlantic, and now we have a Four Seasons coming. Those are monumental changes. It speaks much to the change in the business environment that has transpired in Fort Lauderdale,” said Dobrikow.

Year after year the tourism sector in Broward County has hit record highs, which is a direct reflection of the over $3 billion dollars spent in capital improvements to the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in an effort to increase passenger traffic. All of this has had the biggest impact on investment and development within the hospitality sector. Dobrikow discussed the direct correlation between the growth of the airport and the hospitality industry. “We see growth mainly via the airport. In the last 12 months, the airport received 36.6 million customers, a growth of 5.6%. Of that traffic, 27.7 million were domestic customers. International passenger growth was almost 9%. It has been a tremendous driver for us. It gives investors looking to build hotels in Fort Lauderdale comfort knowing that there is more growth coming. We have a pipeline of about 45 new hotels in Broward County.”

The growing influx of tourists into the county, and the expected arrival of fans to world-renowned events like the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show and the coming Super Bowl LIV, indicate that demand will in fact meet the new supply of hotels rooms. But increased supply also means increased competition for the already established hotels that could ultimately lead to a significant decrease in rates across the board. Although this bodes well for consumers, it does not for hotels in the county. A potential economic downturn is another cloud on the horizon. The key for hotels is having the ability to adapt to a changing landscape within hospitality. “In the next year, I think our occupancy levels will remain flat, and the hotels will be very competitive in terms of rates in Broward County. Some of the hurricanes affected us, but we have recovered. Demand growth could be about 8-8.5%. We see an economic slowdown in the near future, and I am convinced that 2021 will be a slower year for us, with a dip in occupancy. We are planning a room renovation for that year, knowing that it is going to be a slower time,” Dobrikow told Invest:. 

While all indicators point to enough demand in the current market for an increased supply of hotel rooms, it will be something to keep a close eye on as we enter 2020 and beyond. 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

https://www.riversidehotel.com/

A Show 60 Years in the Making

A Show 60 Years in the Making

By Max Crampton-Thomas

 2 min read October 2019 — Oct. 30 to Nov. 3 are probably the most important couple of days for the city of Fort Lauderdale and for Broward County. Over the course of these five days, the city opens its doors to over 110,000 boating enthusiasts from around the world representing over 50 countries, all here for the purpose of attending the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. While this event is always a highlight for the year, this year has special meaning: it’s the 60th anniversary for the Boat Show.

The success and longevity of the event comes as no surprise as Fort Lauderdale has been dubbed the “Yachting Capital of the World” with its economic roots deeply cemented in the marine industry. This event is not just a chance for visitors to see these boats up close and personal; it serves primarily as a platform for yacht brokers and various other exhibitors to showcase their marine products and services. 

The economic benefits to the region brought on by a boat transaction cannot be understated, and were highlighted by Paul Flannery, executive director for the International Yacht Brokers Association, when he spoke to Invest:. “A boat is an economic engine for the community. When a boat comes to a community, 10% of the value of that boat is injected into the local economy on a yearly basis. When there is a transaction involving a boat, an additional 13% of the value of that boat is injected into the local economy in the first year after the sale,” Flannery explained. He continued: “When a person wants to sell their boat, then we need to make sure they know that there is no better place to do business than South Florida, the yachting capital of the world. The impact of that boat sale happening in South Florida benefits the local economy through the yacht broker and marina owner, as well as all the people engaged in that transaction.”

The show this year will not only feature the debut of the show’s largest megayacht, Madsummer, it will also include the 2nd Annual Sunset Soiree and Yacht Chef Competition, a superyacht village and a mansion yacht. Perhaps most unique about this year’s event is the FLIBS 4 Bahamas initiative that will be in support of the Bahamas relief efforts in the Abacos and Grand Bahama, two of the islands devastated by Hurricane Dorian. The proceeds from both the raffle of a Pioneer Sportfish 180 and the Yacht Chef Competition will be going directly to charities working on hurricane relief for the islands.

With more than $4 billion worth of product on display at the Boat Show, the event has not only become a staple for the South Florida community, but the global marine community as well. The event is owned by the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, whose CEO and President Phil Purcell perfectly summarized to Invest: just how important the Boat Show is to the region. “We are the refit and repair capital of the world, the yachting capital of the world. When you think of Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show’s impact on the state of Florida, it generates an $857 million economic impact, with 110,000 visitors from 52 countries around the globe. Keep in mind that $100 million a day changes hands in sales during the five days of the show. The marine industry has an economic value to Broward County of $8.9 billion.”

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

https://www.flibs.com/en/home.html

https://www.miasf.org/

https://iyba.yachts/

How Broward is Solving its Transportation Troubles

How Broward is Solving its Transportation Troubles

By Max Crampton-Thomas

4 min read October 2019 —  For over a century, the car has been America’s top transportation choice when getting from point A to point B. As the population in the United States has grown exponentially year over year, so has the dependency on these vehicles, which has led to worsening transportation issues like congested roads, air pollution, traffic accidents and in some cases fatalities. Throughout South Florida, in this case Broward County, the negative effects of the population’s dependency on single-occupancy vehicles are rampant throughout the region. While these issues pose a major challenge to Broward, there is hope as the younger generations are looking to avoid the stress of car ownership, and many community leaders and organizations are making a push toward better mass transit and alternative transportation options.

While these are not all new ideas, in the last couple of years the emphasis for Broward has become truly exploring and executing these ideas. This starts with the  30-year Penny For Transportation Surtax that was passed last November and is set to generate billions of dollars toward improving transportation and mass transit options throughout the county. Invest: recently spoke with Monica Cepero, deputy county administrator for Broward County, who discussed what the community could expect from the revenues generated by the tax. “This sales tax is set to generate about $16 billion over the next 30 years, and will be used in the more immediate future to improve and modernize public transit services. Our long-term plan for those funds is focused on creating connectivity, extending roadway capacities, multimodal improvements and improving transportation facilities and service.”

Invest: also spoke with Gregory Stuart, executive director of Broward MPO, about the near-term changes that could be expected from the revenues collected from the tax. “Realistically, the immediate changes aren’t going to result in construction; we are focusing on enhancing the traffic signalization program. This includes a coordination between the traffic lights, people’s vehicles and installing smart communication equipment. Another immediate change that has happened already but which we’re not going to notice for about another year, is the county transit agency’s purchase of another 130 buses. Considering they are operating a fleet of about 300 buses right now, this is a one-third expansion and a significant increase in the bus system,” he told Invest:

While the tax is going to be a huge benefit for transportation in the region, a change in mindset is another factor impacting how people get around. One option is the Tri-Rail, which is celebrating its 30th year servicing the South Florida community. Tri-Rail Executive Director Steven Abrams spoke about how it is benefiting from the changing mindset toward mass transit in the area. “South Florida is a tourist and service-related economy, and these individuals, like waiters or construction workers, cannot work from their homes. We have people coming from all over the world who are used to rail transportation in their countries, and they are feeding into our system. Our roads are also just becoming so congested. It used to be that our ridership would principally, and almost exclusively, fluctuate with gas prices, but now that  gas prices are stable and dropping, we still have people riding our system because ultimately it is the overabundance of cars on the road that is urging them to seek alternative transportation.”

Abrams also spoke to how Tri-Rail has improved and updated its operations over the years to encourage use by a larger population. “Over those 30 years, we have improved our service, added more trains, added weekend and holiday service and added connections to the three airports. We are a transportation system that has become popular over time and we have really embedded ourselves in the tri-county area.” 

The other popular train in South Florida is also the newest mass transit option for the region, Virgin Trains USA. Running through the three counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, the train is looking toward the future by connecting the three counties with Orlando and an eventual Tampa Bay stop as well. 

Patrick Goddard, president for Virgin Trains USA, discussed with Invest: how it wants to be a catalyst for transit change in South Florida. “We are reinventing train travel in America, so there are always going to be challenges, but none that we have not been able to overcome so far. The advent of this project has awakened a desire and a curiosity within the municipalities to recognize the full potential for mass transit in South Florida. We are solving the challenge in Florida of medium-haul travel. Airlines take care of long trips, while rideshare, motorized scooters and buses take care of short ones. There has always been this gap with the 200- to 300-mile distances that are too short to fly and too long to drive. By introducing an option like this, it encourages people to leave their cars at home and start using a more environmentally sustainable means of transit.” 

A key factor in remaining economically sustainable is having good transportation and mass transit options. As Broward County continues to develop into an economic powerhouse so to must its transportation, and with changing mindsets and push from community leaders the future looks bright. 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

https://www.tri-rail.com/

http://www.browardmpo.org/

https://www.gobrightline.com/

https://www.broward.org/

Business is Booming for Deerfield Beach

Business is Booming for Deerfield Beach

By Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read September 2019 — When discussing growth in Broward County, the conversation would typically center around the economic hub that is the city of Fort Lauderdale. While it may be the most universally recognized city in Broward, it is certainly not the only one in the county experiencing an economic boom.

Located at the northernmost point of Broward County is Deerfield Beach, a city whose growth cannot be understated or overlooked. Home to over 80,000 individuals, this beach community has capitalized on the economic prosperity and ever-increasing migration of individuals to the South Florida region. Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale spoke with Bill Ganz, the mayor of Deerfield Beach about the city’s major developments in the last year. “We have had a lot of growth in the city in the last 12 months, including over 11,000 building permits that total nearly a billion dollars in new construction. We have new residential developments under construction from some of the top developers in the area, such as Lennar, Toll Brothers, Ram Realty and Weingarten Realty. One of the finest organizations in Broward County is also located in our city, JM Family Enterprises. They are working on a $176 million expansion of their corporate headquarters,” he told Invest:. 

The growth of Deerfield has not just been predicated on the development of new construction projects for the private sector. The city has recognized the importance of reinvesting in itself to better serve its residents. This is apparent in the ongoing construction of a new 12,000-square-foot community center, which is a revitalization of the old Tigner Community Center. When completed, it will be one of the largest community centers in Deerfield Beach. 

Successful economic growth of an area in Broward County is also dependent on addressing future threats to that growth. Ganz made a point of talking to Invest: about how the city is addressing the looming threat of sea level rise and its efforts toward environmental resilience. “We have been working on these issues for several years, starting with the West Wellfield project, which helps to solidify the water system in Deerfield Beach, so we are much better protected against salt water intrusion. We have taken the initiative to become LEED certified with some of our city projects that have recently finished, including the new pier and facilities on the beach.” 

He continued to speak on how he hopes Deerfield will serve as a positive example on these issues for other areas of Broward County. “We have a new Siemens Energy Efficiency Program that we hope can be used as an example for other municipalities to address these issues. The city has also been working on an Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan. We don’t want to just talk about sea level rise, but really address it from a safety standpoint, especially in the event of another hurricane.” 

The advancement of Deerfield Beach has not been by chance, and can be attributed to well-thought-out and deliberate initiatives and actions taken by the city’s public and private sectors. There is a recognition that to sustain the economic growth, the city must continue to present unique opportunities to businesses in the area. 

One of the ways the city is doing this is by recognizing the need to retain a strong workforce within the city, as highlighted by Ganz: “We want to make sure that we provide them with a wide variety of opportunities, not just entertainment, but business opportunities as well. We also are trying to make sure that we are appealing to all generations of the workforce. One of the ways we hope to accomplish that is with some of the new residential construction that is being built. We have worked with these developers to make sure they are keeping the new buildings attractive to all segments of the workforce in the city. We are also fortunate to have the most beautiful beaches in all of Broward County, and these people can really take advantage of this being a nautical destination.” 

While it has been a successful year for the city, local government and the business community will continue to focus on sustaining this growth for the foreseeable future. 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

http://www.deerfield-beach.com

Face Off: Broward’s Construction Boom

Face Off: Broward’s Construction Boom

By Max Crampton-Thomas

 

4 min read September 2019 It seems like more cranes are dotting the downtown Fort Lauderdale skyline every week as new developments emerge from the ground at a record rate. Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale recently had the opportunity to speak with two of the leading constructors in South Florida, Ryan Romanchuk, the Fort Lauderdale business unit leader for DPR Construction, and Brian Sudduth, the president of Miller Construction. The wide-ranging conversations touched on trends in the sector and how their companies are adapting to these, along with the challenges the industry faces.

What emerging trends are impacting the construction industry and how are you adapting to these?

Ryan Romanchuk: There is a strong movement toward prefabrication similar to what we’ve seen in other parts of the world outside of the United States. It is a movement to become smarter as an industry as our labor costs go up and we move more into a manufacturing environment. We are looking for different components that we can prefabricate off-site, which in turn helps to limit the amount of manpower needed on-site, making our project safer and resulting in a higher quality product. One of the constraints of prefabrication is that it requires a certain level of repeatability to make economic sense for a project. However, as our technological tools get more sophisticated we are going to start to push toward digital fabrication. It’s the idea that every project can be unique but still be prefabricated based on building it virtually first.

Brian Sudduth: Office space construction has been slower over the past several years, but we are now starting to see more opportunities for development and redevelopment of office space. The need for construction in hospitality has continued to offer opportunities, and there is still heavy demand for our services in the industrial market. The residential, multifamily market is slowing down, but we have not typically participated in these sectors. I think this is part of the reason why we are seeing opportunities for Miller Construction growing and why 2020 will be just as good if not better for our business.

What is an ongoing challenge the construction industry faces?

Romanchuk: We are working to incorporate data-driven decision-making into all aspects of the business and really moving toward predictive analytics. Every construction project produces so much data but at the same time every project is so unique, which makes it challenging to harness the data produced. Our ability to harness our data as an industry will make us more predictable and at the end of the day that is what most if not all our clients want: predictable outcomes.

Sudduth: The challenge of finding labor in construction is not limited to just identifying people for management roles; it is also finding quality craftsmen to work on these jobs. There are more opportunities than available workers in the marketplace. People leaving Florida and leaving the industry all together during the recession was one factor, but we also have a skills gap because for the last decade, high-school students were encouraged to go to college rather than consider vocational training for things like electrical, plumbing and welding. Those programs are finally seeing a resurgence, but that gap has had an effect on available labor.

What are the factors that contribute to the longevity of your company?

Romanchuk: DPR is and always has been a self-performing general contractor. It really centers around the belief that we are builders at heart and our central belief as a company to respect the individual. This is why we don’t believe in “piece work” and believe in a fair and honest hourly wage and benefits such as health, 401K and paid care leave for all our craft employees.  We have had high levels of retention and are investing in training our employees to make sure they continue to grow their skillset and have upward mobility within DPR. Being a self-performing contractor requires additional resources, time and capital, but we control our own destiny, carry forward respect for the individual and can be part of our industry working to solve the labor gap. 

Sudduth: The longevity of our company is attributed to our business model of always putting our clients first. We never try to chase a revenue number or a product type. Instead, we focus our efforts on quality clients, and through the years we have done a good job of selecting clients that are looking for a long-lasting partnership. We always look out for their best interests, and in return people appreciate that and come back to us whenever they have new projects. We have never been a company that tries to be the biggest. Our goal has always been to be the best construction company.

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

https://www.millerconstruction.com/

https://www.dpr.com/

The Future is Now for FATVillage

By Max Crampton-Thomas

 

3 min read August 2019 — Fort Lauderdale’s FATVillage makes up for what it lacks in size with a treasure trove of arts, cultural and technological offerings. Founded in the late 1990s by Doug McCraw, the four-block historic warehouse district has developed into an arts hub to rival the most established arts districts in South Florida. While the area was originally founded as a way to rally philanthropic support around the artistic community in Fort Lauderdale, it is now transitioning into the premier destination for artists, small-business owners, technologists and arts enthusiasts.

The emergence of FATVillage has been a thoughtful and deliberate process of encouraging smart development that never diverts from the emphasis on art as the main part of the neighborhood’s DNA. This stands true for the introduction of more mixed-use development into the area, as McCraw highlighted in a recent interview with Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale, discussing how that development is not only a new concept but also positively affecting the surrounding neighborhoods. “FATVillage has consistently been a significant economic driver in the Broward County region. It has acted not only as an arts community but also as a nucleus for a lot of the development in Flagler Village. What we are doing in terms of using art as a driver of mixed-use development is still a new concept, and not many developers are integrating product development with a creative community in the same way that we are,” McCraw told Invest. 

He also acknowledged that while FATVillage is undergoing a transition to focus on developing its status as an economic driver in the region, the reason for the district’s success has been the deliberate and careful process of deciding who can lease inside the area. “FATVillage is at a transition point. We are very focused on developing FATVillage to make it a treasure for Fort Lauderdale. We have aggregated various types of coworking spaces with different disciplines, all of which are major components of FATVillage. We have a curated process and we do not just lease to the first person who walks in the door. Our focus on art as an integrated part of the DNA of FATVillage makes us a unique component of Fort Lauderdale’s culture,” McCraw said

Helping to achieve this vision for the future of FATVillage, while also remaining true to its arts identity, is Urban Street Development, which has been involved with the district from the beginning. Invest: recently had a conversation with the Co-Founder Alan Hooper about what the next phase of development for FATVillage will look like. “In August, we intend to deliver a plan that will take the FATVillage Art District in downtown Fort Lauderdale into an exciting era that will combine food with art and technology (FAT) and develop a neighborhood where people and businesses of all sizes can find a place to live, create, collaborate, and socialize. The 5- acre-plus plan fully embraces the arts and elevates the opportunities for artists and creative businesses alike. Positioned inside the downtown core, the Opportunity Zone, and a block from Brightline, the options for community building are endless,” Hooper told Invest:. “We want to help FATVillage evolve into the place it should be. A place that is attractive to creative businesses while maintaining the artists who made us a well-known destination. We want to build some affordable housing for artists and local creative people, as well as really cool workspaces for start-up businesses that might represent art in another way, through video or audio, the art of the word, or the art of food. A place like this will be very attractive to businesses that benefit from hiring within a congregation of talent. In the end, we are creating a village that all people can grow with, be a part of and enjoy.” 

Arts and culture is a major key in Florida’s economy, and even more so in Broward County. Areas like FATVillage play a vital role in keeping arts in the county, and acting as a significant economic driver for the region. FATVillage has long been an attractive destination in Fort Lauderdale, but it is now on the cusp of a major transition into a true arts and economic staple in Broward County. 

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

https://www.fatvillage.com/

http://www.urbanstreetdevelopment.com/