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Oakland Park, the suburban city just north of Fort Lauderdale, began as a bustling farm town called Floranda in the early 1900s.

Among the first settlers were Mr. and Mrs. Joe Johns, who arrived to their swampy patch in South Florida in their Model T Ford in 1914. The Johns’ farm was the site of the community’s first grocery store. The boom ended in 1926, when the great hurricane smashed Florida peninsula.

Three years later, residents replaced Floranda with Oakland Park, a name that pays homage to the massive oaks in the city that withstood the storm’s monster winds. By the 1950s, the city became a satellite vacation spot for snowbirds unable to find hotel accommodations in Fort Lauderdale. In 1956, brothers Jack and Bob Thornton opened Mai Kai Restaurant, a Polynesian restaurant that cost $400,000 to build and was famous for its tiki decor, dance shows and potent rum cocktails. At the time, it was the most expensive price tag for a restaurant construction project in the U.S.

Today, Mai Kai is one of Broward County’s top tourist destinations and is one of two locations in Oakland Park listed on the U.S. Register of Historic Places. The other is the Oakland Park Elementary School, which was built in 1925.

As far as real estate development, Oakland Park mirrors other suburban municipalities in Broward with post World War II, low-rise multifamily and office buildings and outdoor shopping centers.

Signs Of Change

In the spring of 2013, Funky Buddha Brewery opened its full-scale production beer-making facility and tap room in a converted warehouse in the heart of Oakland Park’s downtown. By securing the craft beer company to anchor the city’s culinary arts district, Oakland Park’s leaders made it clear they were ready to transform a drab downtown into a lively destination.

In the last five years, other hip restaurants and retailers targeting a younger, sophisticated demographic have followed Funky Buddha into the culinary arts district, said Jaime Sturgis, CEO and founder of Native Realty Co. For instance, remodeling services company Allied Kitchen, Bath and Home opened its second showroom at 616 West Oakland Park Boulevard in 2016. Luxury lifestyle fitness company G21 opened a gym, meditation room and smoothie bar at 3400 Northeast 11th Avenue in November 2017. And Antique to Chic, an antique furniture retailer is relocating from its current Wynwood location to the Match Point building at 1510 East Oakland Park Boulevard.

Sturgis handled the sale of the Match Point building to Antique to Chic.

“Oakland Park was a sleepy city for a very long time,” Sturgis said. “It was a place for working class families. In the last five to 10 years, the demographics have started to shift. People have more disposable income and Oakland Park has become more progressive and youthful.”

Residential Take

“The demand for residential is strong because you have many employment drivers so close in proximity. Broward led the state with job growth and there are great economic elements. If you can find urban infill, east of I-95 sites around employment drivers, and develop a product that is in demand, I believe you can do very well,” said Adam Bedzow, Ceiba Groupe managing principal.

Commercial Take

“The value in the office market is pretty considerable when you compare the rental rates in downtown Fort Lauderdale. There is definitely opportunity for tenants who are willing to go a little north. You are starting to see things you haven’t seen a lot of, such as industrial buildings getting converted to retail uses. All that helps drive growth in the market,” said Brady Titcomb, JLL vice president.

Demographics

Population: 43,660
Median Age: 39
Median Income: $46,447
Average Household Net Worth: $227,890

Price Trends

– Median residential sales price per square foot: $177, roughly 2% less than the Broward County average
– Decrease in average rent over the last year: 13% to $1,800

Most Expensive Residential Sale: A three-bedroom, two-bathroom waterfront house at 1732 Northeast 35th Street sold for $680,000 on May 10

Least Expensive Residential Sale: A two-bedroom, one-bathroom house at 371 Northeast 51st Street sold for $75,000 on April 24

Most Expensive Home On The Market: A four-bedroom, four-bathroom house at 1777 Northeast 39th Street is listed at $692,000

New Developments

Ever since a moratorium on small-scale residential projects was lifted in October, development in Oakland Park has picked up its pace. In January, Bedzow’s Ceiba Groupe unveiled plans for a rental townhouse project on a 6.6-acre site at 1000 Northeast 58th Street. Plans show 114 townhomes totaling 181,000 square feet, plus a clubhouse, a pool and 252 parking spaces.

“We are focused on identifying areas where people want to live and are underserved with a certain type of products,” Bedzow said. “The rental pool is still growing and there is unmet rental demand. We see Oakland Park as a great location that hasn’t seen new rental construction for a long time.”

Ceiba Group will face a lot of competition from other multifamily developers. Local developer Amos Chess and Don Deitchman are planning to redevelop two former strip clubs into a mid-rise apartment building with ground-floor commercial space. The development, known as O2, is located at 3339-3347 North Federal Highway. It will have 165 units totaling 119,000 square feet and another 31,795 square feet of retail.

Chess and Deitchman also want to develop Round Corner, a mixed-use project that would wrap around the historic Kennan Building at 3101 and 3201 North Federal Highway. The developers would build a new 274-unit apartment building that would include some micro units, 20,100 square feet of commercial space and parking garages. The Kennan building would be renovated.

 

Source: The Real Deal

Though it would have been miles from Oakland Park’s downtown, elected officials rejected a proposed self-storage center earlier this week, saying they want to nurture development near neighborhoods as carefully as they’re doing so downtown.

Storage complex rendering

The three-story, architecturally ornate self-storage center would have been fine with the neighbors next to it, off Oakland Park Boulevard west of Interstate 95. But city officials said they could do better.

Oakland Park is in the midst of a development transformation — or at least an attempt at it. City officials say they want better development — higher quality housing and the businesses that would follow.

“This request to me is asking this body to relent on that hard work we put into unifying our city, and to renege on the commitments that we made,” Commissioner Michael Carn said.

The vote against rezoning for the project was 4-1, with Commissioner Matthew Sparks the only supporter.

The three-story complex was proposed for 2.5 acres at 2203 W. Oakland Park Blvd., behind a Burger King restaurant and kidney dialysis center, in front of the Sailboat Pointe Condominium, which issued a letter of support.

Mayor John Adornato said the city’s intense focus on improving downtown development standards will eventually lift up the other Oakland Park neighborhoods, like the one where the storage center was proposed.

In May, the city took the rare step of enacting a temporary building moratorium for small housing projects downtown, in order to change development rules.

“The work is just one in a menu of things the city is doing as it re-evaluates where we are at as a city and most importantly, who we want to become,” City Manager David Hebert said. “This is a small piece of a very large whole, and we begin with this step.”

Until Oct. 18, no applications to build townhouses, duplexes, villas and garden apartments are to be processed for the downtown area. The long, thin downtown zone stretches from Oakland Park Boulevard to about 43rd Street, straddling Dixie Highway and the railroad tracks, between 10th and 13th avenues.

The city is fostering a culinary district downtown, often citing the Funky Budddha Brewery at 1201 NE 38th St. as an anchor. A Lucky’s Market will open there in late August

After suspending property owners’ rights with the moratorium, the city hired consultant Leigh Kerr and Associates to study the downtown. He issued his recommendations. Kerr suggested the city build its population via new housing.

“New homes would be a base to support business because retail follows residential,” Kerr said.

By the time development is allowed to resume in October, the city hopes to have changed development laws to encourage the small housing developments to better connect with the street and be more pleasing to the pedestrians who might pass them. Gone would be chain-link fences, vast parking lots in front of buildings and buildings set 10 or 15 feet back from the street.

“The rules discussed and the moratorium itself pertain just to small-scale housing developments, not big multi-family apartment complexes, which the city favors,” David Hebert said

In another legal change aimed at elevating the city’s image, commissioners tentatively agreed to phase out what a city memo called “unsightly” barbed wire or razor wire fencing, except at business that are zoned “light industrial,” like an auto yard.

The vote also would spiff up requirements for outdoor storage yards at commercial businesses, so fencing hides the clutter. Businesses would have until 2020 to follow the new rules, which need a final approval at a future meeting.

Click here to view the SunSentinel news video ‘Oakland Park Nixes Development Project

 

Source: SunSentinel