Fort Lauderdale may be the Godzilla of development in Broward County, but boomtown wannabes Hollywood and neighboring Dania Beach are hoping to give it a run for its money.
Both cities say their proximity to the coast, major highways, the airport and port are big draws. They also say they have more of what Fort Lauderdale doesn’t: Vacant land and timeworn properties ripe for redevelopment.
“Hollywood plans to capitalize on its popular beach, recently ranked sixth in the nation — five spots ahead of Fort Lauderdale,” said Mayor Josh Levy. “For decades, all the attention was out west and now all the attention is back east on the coastal cities. People are looking to come back to the coastal cities, closer to the beach and the downtowns, the airports and the seaports. We have an opportunity for a rebirth and reinvestment.”
Hollywood officials say Margaritaville — the $147 million Jimmy Buffett-themed beach resort that opened in late 2015 — has helped spur new development along the barrier island and is bringing crowds to the beach. Dania Beach, once known for its Antique Row, also has high hopes of becoming a destination town.
“People think Dania Beach is a sleepy place you just drive through,” Mayor Tamara James said. “I like the phrase ‘Dania Beach is on the rise.’ We’re not what we used to be. We’re heading in a new direction.”
A key player fueling the city’s redevelopment is Dania Pointe, a sprawling 102-acre entertainment village that will be built in phases over the next few years on the east side of Interstate 95 at Stirling Road.
“There’s a major transformation going on in Dania Beach at this area,” said Robert Shapiro, one of the project’s developers. “It will have a domino effect all the way to Dania Beach Boulevard and Federal Highway.”
And that’s what city officials are counting on.
“We have to rebrand ourselves,” James said. “We don’t want to be known only as Broward’s oldest city. Some residents love this quaint, quiet antique town. While we can keep some areas quiet and quaint, we need to bring in business. It’s part of the evolution of Dania Beach.”
Once built, the $800 million Dania Pointe project will be one of the region’s largest open-air shopping villages, with 20 restaurants and 900,000 square feet of shops. It also includes twin 20-story condo towers; two apartment complexes with a total of 1,000 luxury units; three 12-story office towers; and two hotels. A walkable main street will connect the hotels, apartments and shops.
“It will not only be a shopping center and a place to live but also a place to hang out and have fun,” Shapiro said.
In a nod to tech-savvy millennials, smartphones will open the doors to hotel rooms, apartments and offices.
“We’re calling it Smart Town,” Shapiro said. “All the apartments and hotel rooms and offices, you’ll be able to get into with your smart phone. When you walk into one of the shops, the retailers will have your profile. It’s going to be amazing. The first phase, with 300,000 square feet of retail, should “go vertical” in the next 60 days and be complete in early 2018.”
Construction on the hotels, office towers, residential units and additional shops and restaurants is expected to start later this year. The entire project, a joint venture partnership between Kimco Realty, Master Development and Salzman Real Estate Advisors, would be complete by 2020.
“We think this will be the biggest open-air mixed-use project in South Florida anywhere,” Shapiro said.