broward county

Greater Fort Lauderdale is in the midst of a development boom.

With Virgin Trains opening up the South Florida corridor, high-profile celebrity projects underway and dozens of cranes dotting the region’s skyline, Greater Fort Lauderdale has captured the national spotlight.

The latest jobs data clearly showed the strength of the Broward County region with a 2.8% unemployment rate in April 2019. The jobless rate was 0.5 percentage points lower than the region’s year ago rate of 3.3%. Non-agricultural employment increased by 16,400 jobs (+1.9%) over the year, with an employment of 867,000 in the Ft. Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach MSA (Broward County).

The Ft. Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach Metro Division had the highest annual job growth compared to all the metro areas in the state in other services (+2,200 jobs) in April 2019.

The industries gaining in jobs over the year were: Professional and Business services (+5,400 jobs); Education and Health Services (+5,200 jobs); ; Financial Activities (+1,300 jobs); Construction (+1,200 jobs); Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (+800 jobs); Manufacturing (+600 jobs); and Leisure and Hospitality (+300 jobs). The industry that lost jobs over the year was Government (-600 jobs).  The information industry was unchanged over the year. recently turned to Bob Swindell, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, to discuss the factors that have been driving job growth in the region and Broward County’s rapid transformation from beach town to boomtown. What does the launch of Brightline (now Virgin Trains) mean for Greater Fort Lauderdale and how has it impacted real estate development?

Swindell: There’s no question that Virgin Trains is a game-changer for our region. The high-speed real has unlocked Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach by connecting a combined population of more than 6 million, giving the 200+ Broward-based corporate headquarters access to a deeper talent pool than ever before.

Late last year, the Alliance conducted an analysis of the activity that has occurred along Brightline’s route since the train was announced and found that millions in corporate investment have already been made within a one-mile radius of the Fort Lauderdale station. Much more is on the way now that the Fort Lauderdale City Commission and the Broward County Commission recently voted to move forward with the development of a joint governmental campus, co-locating city and county Halls in one facility. The new government building will be located across the tracks from the train terminal on a site currently occupied by the Main Bus Terminal on Broward Boulevard.

The marquee project in the area is Traina and BH3’s FAT City (Flagler Arts and Technology) which is estimated to encompass 1.4 million square feet of mixed-use space that will foster Broward’s growing urban community of artists, technology businesses and young professionals.

This new level of mobility and the development it has spawned has been a major selling point in retaining and attracting the skilled, high-paying jobs that are propelling our economy forward. What other new projects are rising in the area?

Swindell: The bulk of new development in the region is taking shape in downtown Fort Lauderdale where the population has grown by 30% as new apartments and condos rise.  There’s PMG Group’s redevelopment of Las Olas Riverfront, a mixed-use project that will consist of “social living” rental communities that combine residences with coworking space as well as a public plaza featuring restaurants and nightlife. Also set for completion by end of 2019 is Skanska’s $49.3-million renovation and revitalization of Las Olas Boulevard. Once complete, Fort Lauderdale’s most popular thoroughfare will have a brand new 670-space parking lot, a beachfront park, a new canopy, public spaces and interactive water features that will enhance the pedestrian experience. Stiles Corporation’s The Main Las Olas, a 25-story office building and 27-story residential tower, will span an entire city block bordering East Las Olas Boulevard and Southeast Third Avenue.

More growth is on the way, with approximately 6.2 million square feet of multifamily, office, retail and hotel construction either under development or in the pipeline within Broward’s urban core. What does the exposure from globally recognized names like Richard Branson and David Beckham mean for the Broward brand?

Swindell: Richard Branson turned heads when he launched the first-ever adults-only cruise line from a Plantation-based headquarters in early 2018 and then doubled down on the region by investing heavily in Brightline, which is being rebranded to Virgin Trains. Soccer legend David Beckham put Broward back on the soccer map when he joined forces with the City of Fort Lauderdale to transform Lockhart Stadium into an 18,000 seat, state-of-art arena for his MLS team.

And let’s not forget about the wave of positive publicity generated from South Florida being shortlisted for Amazon’s HQ2. These are all indicators of Greater Fort Lauderdale’s status as a thriving business and lifestyle destination finally being recognized on the international stage. How are advancements in infrastructure driving new talent to Greater Fort Lauderdale and supporting job growth?

Swindell: As an economic development organization, we look at the big picture. Recent innovations and investment in infrastructure have been a major step forward in creating the type of walkable, mixed-use environments that put our region on a path for long-term growth and success.

This urbanization of Broward County is helping us attract the type of young, skilled talent that draws the attention of global brands and moves the needle where it matters most: jobs. The Greater Fort Lauderdale area added more than 14,000 jobs year-over year in 2018 and continues to be a leader in the state in terms of job creation. With Broward County projected to gain 900,00 new residents by 2030, the region isn’t slowing down anytime soon.


Source: GlobeSt.

Business Rent Tax

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law that will reduce the tax on commercial leases in Florida.

House Bill 7123, known as the business rent tax, lowers the commercial lease tax by 0.2 percent to 5.5 percent. Although the reduction is small, it marks the third such cut since 2018.

Florida is the only state in the U.S. that collects sales tax on commercial leases, according to NAIOP, the national commercial real estate development association. The state is otherwise considered a tax haven due to its lack of a state income tax.

“In Florida, the commercial tax is imposed on the base rent, plus any additional rent or consideration the tenant is required to pay,” said Darcie Lunsford, who has spearheaded reductions in the tax on behalf of the South Florida chapter of Herndon, Virginia-based NAIOP.

It’s also applied to the tenant’s share of common-area maintenance fees and property taxes. Some Florida counties also tack on a local surtax, including Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

The tax reduction becomes effective on Jan. 1, 2020 and is expected to generate annual savings of $64.5 million, according to the governor’s office. DeSantis, who won the endorsement of the Florida Realtors in his race for governor, was elected in November. The tax applies to retail, office and industrial leases and does not include hotel or apartment leases.

“Reducing the tax helps to level the playing field when Florida competes for headquarters or major companies,” Lunsford, a senior vice president at Butters Realty & Management said. “It also releases investment capital that companies can now use to grow our businesses, hire people, and invest in equipment.”

“The reduction is minor,” said Marvin Kirsner, a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig. “A previous bill, which did not pass, called for reducing the tax to 3.5 percent, which would have had a much bigger impact, in addition to taxing e-commerce.”

Still, Steven Hurwitz of Colliers International South Florida said that “Over time, additional rollbacks would have an impact on tenants reinvesting in their businesses and the local economy. Any future movement definitely supports that sort of investment in our economy.”

NAIOP’s Florida chapter has been lobbying the state to ratchet back the commercial lease tax for years and is hoping to wipe it out completely.

“Former Gov. Rick Scott attempted to eliminate the rent tax altogether,” Kirsner said.

“It’s definitely a senseless tax that we need to work on eradicating over time, which is what NAIOP’s been doing,” Lunsford said.

Other real estate-related bills are awaiting the governor’s signature. The Florida Legislature recently passed a bill that would make remote online notarizations legal, a move that could speed up foreign and out-of-state real estate investment in the Sunshine State.


Source: The Real Deal

West Palm Beach

Developer Jeff Greene is moving forward with a four-building, 352-apartment complex that looks across Clear Lake reservoir toward the West Palm Beach skyline. But wait — that’s not all.

Greene, who owns probably more West Palm Beach property than anyone, and who long has drawn city criticism for holding off on construction, says he has pushed the launch button not just on Clear Lake Estates but on several projects in and around the city.

Among them:

– One West Palm, a two-tower, hotel/office/apartment complex downtown at 550 Quadrille Blvd., whose groundbreaking was last month, is scheduled for completion in the first half of 2021.

– A Westgate neighborhood apartment complex, off Congress Avenue north of Belvedere Road, is in the permit process.

– An industrial project off Jog Road, south of Okeechobee Boulevard, is a few weeks from construction.

– He hopes to start a refrigerated distribution center for McArthur Dairy off Florida Mango Road in 30 days. That would allow McArthur to move from its current location on Flamingo Road, where the developer plans to expand his Greene School and build indoor tennis courts.

– A residential complex overlooking Currie Park, with the city’s tallest towers, could be under construction in 12 to 18 months, depending on permitting and the city’s ability to more forward renovating the park.

Housing Affordability A Growing Challenge

The city commission gave initial approval Monday to site plan changes to will allow Clear Lake Estates to rise on the 11-acre site of the scuttled Sail Boat Club project, just across the water from downtown. A vote on final approval is expected as soon as May 20.

Greene said in an interview that another nearby apartment complex he built four years ago, Cameron Estates, is so fully leased it indicates the market is ripe for the Clear Lake project. He’s getting rough construction cost estimates now and would start building as soon as possible, with city approvals. As planned, the project is short 106 parking spaces of the 721 required, so in exchange for a waiver on that requirement, Greene has offered to contribute to transit alternatives.

He would build a waterfront walking and bike trail on the property’s lakefront, and a publicly accessible path linking that trail to Executive Center Drive, or pay the city $158,000 to do the work, by the end of 2020. That work would create a non-vehicular connection between the Palm Beach Outlets, Okeechobee Boulevard and downtown. The developer also agreed to install a PalmTran bus shelter on Executive Center Drive.

At Monday’s city commission meeting, commissioner Cory Neering asked planning officials whether they would require Greene to include workforce housing in the project. Housing affordability has been a growing challenge as the city works to attract companies and their employees downtown. Neering was told the city could broach that issue with the developer over the two weeks before the final approval vote.

But Greene told The Palm Beach Post the site, which he bought in 2015 for $17 million, was too expensive to offer subsidized, below-market rents.

“This building, with the cost of construction and rents will just barely make it” financially, Greene said. “It only works for someone like me, who builds it for what it’s worth when its done. The rents just aren’t high enough and construction costs have gone up so much. The problem is, I can build it if I just make a return on investment, make cash flow, like owning a bond. But if I had to sell it to make a profit, there’s not enough there,” In short, he concluded, “if you try to have any kind of reduced rents, it would probably kill the project.”

No Tenants Yet For One West Palm

One West Palm, its foundation finally under construction, also faces challenges. The project, which Greene announced several years ago and got city approval for two years ago, has yet to line up a tenant for its 209,000 square feet of Class A office space.

Meanwhile, The Related Cos. is coming out of the ground with a competing downtown office tower, 360 Rosemary, to be completed about the same time, next to Rosemary Square (the renamed CityPlace development).

And the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency this week approved a letter of intent for developer Charles Cohen to build an office tower as big as 490,000 square feet, on the ‘tent site’ at the corner of Okeechobee Boulevard and Dixie Highway. Greene, who owns the former Opera Place lot just north of the tent site, where he could develop as much as 1 million square feet, said that despite the current shortage of Class A space, he doubts there are enough tenants out there now to fill three or more buildings.

All the construction comes at a time of sustained growth in the city, which counts $3 billion of substantive projects in its development pipeline and has been challenged for solutions to the traffic that inevitably will generate. These include highrise residences off N Flager Drive in the North End, a sprawling Anchor Site mixed-use development and Currie Park redevelopment on opposite ends of Northwood Road, the renovation of the 1930’s-era Sunset Lounge in the Historic Northwest, a rebuilt golf course and tennis center in the south end, a Drive Shack indoor golf entertainment center and Mitsubishi dealership near the airport, condo towers on S Flagler Drive, and a possible doubling in size of the county convention center, just to name a handful.

Of course, not all proposed projects get built. Greene has tabled a number, himself. His Opera place site has remained vacant for years. He dropped a micro-apartment building a block from Clematis Street and tabled a residential project on Clematis, after commissioning drawings by the same high-profile firm that designed One West Palm, Miami’s Arquitectonica. For the 20 acres he owns around the Currie Park waterfront, he has hired an even higher-profile firm, the Switzerland-based Herzog & de Meuron, designers of the Beijing Olympics’ Bird’s Nest stadium, but that’s another site he’s been talking about for a long time that remains vacant land.

Despite complaints from city officials or neighbors of his vacant sites, the Palm Beach billionaire gets construction cost estimates, does the math and only moves forward when the numbers add up to a profit, particularly since he’s generally not using other people’s money but his own.

At One West Palm, he waited on the market, held off while the city politicked zoning changes that benefited a competitor and he took time off for a run for governor. Now he’s done the numbers again and they add up to a worst-case scenario in which he makes only a little money, and best-case in which he makes a lot, he said. So, the cranes are in place.

Meanwhile, seeing occupancy stabilize at Cameron Estates at a healthy 95-97 percent, the numbers told him that despite construction costs trending high amid the building boom, Clear Lake Estates stood a good chance at success.


Source: Palm Beach Daily News

An explosion of shops and restaurants is turning Pompano Beach into possibly the top beachside destination between Fort Lauderdale and Delray Beach.

Many businesses, attractions and other amenities have recently become available to the public — and much more is on the way. But the evolution also is posing challenges, such as a brand-new parking garage that is already packed full on the weekends. There’s also the hassle of driving around amid all the traffic and construction.

“The development is great. It’s going to help this area a lot more,” says Thomas Savino, of Margate, who has hit the beach in Pompano almost daily for nine years.

All the changes have wowed him: Where he once saw a sleepy community is now a sight for valet services, particularly on the weekends for a restaurant that opened last year.

“The only thing is — I’m scared. Where am I going to park my car with all these people coming?” asks Savino.

Here’s a look at all the changes afoot on this fast-growing stretch of beach.

The Boom

The city has long planned to shape itself into a thriving destination. Already, there are new restaurants and stores, as well as hotel construction underway. The city’s pier, closed to the public since 2017, could be reopened by October, which could help generate even more traffic.

The city’s new popularity is obvious: The 625-space “Pier Garage” that opened in 2016 is often filled to capacity on weekends. Other signs that throngs of people are coming: The Beach House restaurant that opened last year has found much success, said developer Tim Hernandez, who is building a development referred to as the Pompano Beach Fishing Village.

“I feel like there’s a lot of activity in Pompano for good reason,” Hernandez said. “It’s coming up. It’s going to be a great place — a true destination.”

Among the projects that’ll be part of Pompano Beach’s Fishing Village, east of State Road A1A, between Northeast Second and Northeast Third Streets:

— A 150-room, dual-branded Hilton hotel, from Home2Suites and Tru. It’ll be the first to be built in a city-owned beachside redevelopment area in more than 50 years. Its groundbreaking took place this past Wednesday.

Alvin’s Island, a beach-apparel shop that’s under construction. It’ll open later this year.

— The Oceanic at Pompano Beach, a restaurant with an ocean liner-inspired design. It’s two or three months from opening.

Lucky Fish Beach Bar and Grill, which intends to replicate a Keys-style open-air tiki bar. It’s under construction and may open late this summer.

— A building that’ll have a BurgerFi, Kilwin’s and a Cannoli Kitchen. Construction is expected to begin in a month or two.

— A banquet space west of the Oceanic restaurant on Pompano Beach Boulevard.

“The objective is to create a space suitable for wedding receptions, charity events, corporate meetings and private parties,” according to city records.

There is no start date yet for construction.

“The facility will be two stories and offer 18,000 square feet, with a rooftop bar amid ocean views,” said Tom Prakas, the leasing agent for Pompano Beach Fishing Village.  “We have so much going on here and this space is going to fill out in the next two years.”

Finding Solutions

To battle the traffic and parking crunch, the city is envisioning a beachside garage — in addition to one that already opened. The city says perhaps a hotel or grocery store would help pay for it. City officials said the proposed parking garage, offering 700 additional spots, would help draw even more visitors.

Requests for developers to make proposals for the 3-acre project — both for the new garage and accompanying projects — are due by May 31. The lot, at 109 N. Ocean Blvd., is west of State Road A1A, east of Riverside Drive and south of Northeast Second Avenue.

“We can’t ignore the issue — there’s building going on and there’s demand for parking,” said Assistant City Manager Suzette Sibble. “The city doesn’t want demand to outpace the supply. That won’t make anybody happy. We’re trying to stay ahead of the curve and be strategic. The parking garage — to be built on land that is now surface parking, north of The Plaza at Oceanside condos — could top five floors.”

It would either be self-parking or a hybrid of self-parking and an automatic car stacker, like an elevator for cars. Because it is estimated to be in the $17 million range, new development could offset the costs.

A beachside grocery store also would help replace the grocery store that was previously in the Oceanside Shopping Center, which was redeveloped into condos.

Currently, most beachside residents travel across a bridge to buy groceries from the Publix at 2511 E. Atlantic Blvd. But if a new supermarket were to open closer to the beach, it may help ease traffic across the Intracoastal Waterway bridge.

“We are very excited about it,” Sibble said. “It would be nice to get something the residents would be proud to look at, they don’t have to go across the bridge to Publix.” The possibilities are “like a Trader Joe’s type, an off-the-wall, grocery-type store — food, wine, cheese — a use for them to be proud of.”

Not all residents are pleased with an onslaught of construction near the water in what the city considers progress.

“I think they’re going nuts with this development phase,” said former Commissioner Kay McGinn. “They are running out of things to develop.”

But other locals are thrilled.

“This was a very quaint little city, and I think it will explode in the next few years,” said Patti Fanucci, who works at the Sandbar Snacks concession stand. “Pompano needed a face-lift. It’s making us more of a city.”

“Tourists are attracted because of the width of Pompano’s beach, but people can’t come to Pompano if they don’t have parking,” said Johnny Coppola, a Pompano Beach snowbird from Montreal. “More hotels, more condos, more retail means more money and money is good for everybody. It’s just as important as the blood in your body. Too much going out and not enough coming in, you die.”


Source: SunSentinel