Dania Beach - How Broward’s oldest city could become a top destination to live, work and play โ˜˜ Hoey Team โ˜˜ eXp Realty Florida

Dated: September 11 2019

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Dania Beach, Broward’s oldest city, is seeing new life as a South Florida attraction — envisioning a sweeping downtown makeover project that could bring hundreds of new apartments next to many planned new stores, parks and work spaces.

Preliminary rendering of how a revitalized downtown Dania Beach might look as part of a proposed $634 million redevelopment plan. (City of Dania Beach / Courtesy)

The city, incorporated in 1904, was known for decades as a transit point to other locations along U.S. 1 and State Road A1A, but several projects are planned in town. Developers and businesses, including hotels and retail chains, say they see merit in investing in Dania — partly because of the city’s proximity to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and the burgeoning cruise line operations at Port Everglades.

The city is “on the brink of a renaissance from our location being so close to the beaches and airport," City Manager Ana Garcia said Friday. "It’s just an amazing diamond in the rough that really is undiscovered.”

But at the same time, she said, the city wants to ensure its history is preserved and that it’s configured in a balanced way so that residents will have a single area in which they live, work, shop and relax in parks. “This is when we begin to take the most important step here,” she said. “This is the most transformative time in the history of the city.”

Among the spate of growth:

  • The first of an array of businesses already have opened within the 102-acre Dania Pointe residential, commercial and entertainment complex east of I-95 at Stirling and Bryan roads. Kimco Realty Corp., which is not involved in the downtown redevelopment, has been building hundreds of new residences, shopping and entertainment facilities on land where the former wooden roller-coaster ride once presided east of Interstate 95 at Stirling and Bryan roads. Big names such as BrandsMart, Shoe Carnival, Verizon and Starbucks are already opened. Movie theaters and a variety of dinging options will stand near two Marriott hotels with 350 rooms combined, two 250,000-square-foot office buildings, and 600 residential apartment units.
  • JetBlue Airways recently opened a headquarters of a new travel subsidiary at the Design Center of the Americas that employs 70 people. That number is likely to surpass 100 employees, airline officials said.
  • The latest proposed project will be The First at Dania Beach. Designed by the international architects Palma + Partners of Chicago, it would be laid out to accommodate a variety of functions and events — from farmers’ markets and art fairs to concerts and city and national holiday celebrations, said developer Aramda Hoffler Properties of Virginia Beach, Va. It also raises the possibility for shared office spaces for entrepreneurs, the use of side streets for shared rides and public transportation and access to a local train station.

Armada Hoffler, a publicly traded company, and Capital Group of Fort Lauderdale emerged as the winners of a competition among several developers who gave their proposals to the city earlier this year. Their plan, The First at Dania Beach, aims to recast 6.42 acres of municipal property at 100 W. Dania Beach Blvd.

The proposal calls for the demolition of the existing city hall, the construction of a new one and the relocation of the fire station and historic buildings. An existing parking garage would be expanded and the remainder of the acreage would be developed by Armada Hoffler. The project would include 14-story buildings that would be home to middle-income apartments and offices.

The First at Dania Beach would be built as a public-private endeavor, unfolding in three phases:

  • The new city hall, fire station and 810 rental apartments for middle-income residents that would rise on land leased from the city.
  • Another 470 apartment units would be built in 2025 on privately held land nearby that the developers would purchase for $3.5 million.
  • A non-residential third phase would include 341,100 square feet of office space, 24,300 square feet of retail and a 150-room hotel, which would open in 2027.

Other cities across Broward County, such as Pompano Beach, are remaking their downtowns and beach areas to lure more people.

Pompano Beach is focusing on a transit-oriented enclave with a new city hall. New apartment towers, stores and restaurants are rising along Atlantic Boulevard, and its beach area is the scene of new restaurants, high-luxury condos and a marina.

For its part, Dania Beach is cautiously recasting itself as a destination.

Elected officials recently raised concern about the size and scope of The First at Dania Beach. At a meeting Tuesday, Mayor Lori Lewellen described the plan as more suitable for a much larger urban area. “What has been proposed is not Dania Beach,” she said. “It looks like something that belongs in Miami or Atlanta or some other major metropolitan area.”

“We are moving forward, we are progressing, but not that far,” she added.

Lewellen said her “biggest concern is that I don’t want it to be such a sharp difference from the rest of the city that it stands out like a sore thumb.”

She was concerned about the capacity of the city’s street, sewer and water systems to handle new projects. “We are the oldest city [in Broward County]. We have a number of projects on line as far as pipes and sewers," she said. "We also have to be mindful of traffic, working with the Florida Department of Transportation, and how this is going to impact everything.”

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