Fort Lauderdale is heaven for anyone who wants to retire with their yacht. But now, a flurry of new development is building downtown for younger residents who (gasp!) can’t even own a boat.
Miami-based Doron Broman, managing partner at Moderno Development Group, told The Post that 99% of his projects are in Fort Lauderdale.
“I fell in love with Fort Lauderdale in 2013,” he said. “When there was nothing going on.”
A lot is happening now. According to the Fort Lauderdale Downtown Development Authority (DDA), more than 50 developments are in the pipeline, with some already underway, bringing more than 8,500 new residential units – and 725,800 square feet of new restaurant and retail space. Major players include New York-based Property Markets Group, Related Companies, Reliant Equity and The Kushner Company, as well as Houston-based Hines and Denver-based Amco.
One of Broman’s concerns is the Tarpon River Entertainment and Design District (TREDD), a one-time commercial neighborhood south of New River.
“We converted warehouses into commercial spaces and brought in a coffee shop, a wine store, a bar, a tattoo parlor, a hair salon, and a nail salon. All local businesses,” he said. A hipster neighborhood? “You can call it that,” he replied.
This is followed by River Lofts, a 28-story apartment building, and 501 Urban, a proposed $300 million project in Broward County, consisting of two 30-story rental towers.
“It’s not affordable housing, but instead of $2,700 for an apartment, rents will be more like $2,000,” Broman said.
“Most cities get a boost from employers moving there and workers following them,” said DDA board member Charlie Ladd, owner of Barron Real Estate. “But for us, it’s the other way around. People want to be here and employers are following.
West Marine, Future Tech, Icon International, Solomon Partners, Revener, Belhealth Investment Partners and Hong Kong-based TTI are some of the corporations adding to the city’s job market.
Ladd said he once had difficulty getting high-end retailers into his commercial real estate development — he now name-checks Beverly Hills restaurant Henry’s as a tenant.
“For years, chefs only knew Miami. I fought to bring them here. “When I came here in 1984, it was a small village. Downtown consisted of two buildings. Now 35 million people pass through our airport every year and it is comparable to Orlando.
Ladd is also developing the Whitfield, an “extremely luxurious boutique hotel,” he said, expected to open in late 2024.
Luxury names like Omni Hotels and Editions have set their sights on Fort Lauderdale. Opening in early 2026, the 800-room Omni Fort Lauderdale is due adjacent to the Broward County Convention Center.
However, Edition Residences Fort Lauderdale is the brand’s first non-hotel development, adding more than 3,600 residential units over the past five years.
“Fort Lauderdale is coming into its own,” said Asi Simbal, president of Simbal DLT Companies, which is developing the 6-acre Waterfront and Nautica Hotel and Residences. “Fort Lauderdale is developing into one of the best cities in the world.”
Symbol DLT made national news when it moved, rather than destroy, a 100-year-old rain tree from its proposed waterfront development plot.
“This is who we are as a company,” he insisted. “We want to preserve the quality and history of the waterfront.”
To that end, a quaint local favorite, the Pirate Republic restaurant, will also relocate, making way for all five high-rise towers, ranging from apartments to branded luxury hotels and restaurants, and a private yacht club, including a spa and a boat attendant.
“We’re creating a marine district with our own marina,” Simbel said. “You can press a button on your phone and your yacht will be waiting. We want to attract yachtsmen for the day, or to come and stay here.
It’s about keeping Fort Lauderdale, “Fort Lauderdale”.
“We ended up with a city where people enjoy,” he said. “It’s moveable, it’s safe. We got it right.”