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Inside downtown Fort Lauderdale’s luxury development boom

New York Post logo: MainLogo New York Post 2/17/2023 Linda Laban

Fort Lauderdale is paradise for anyone who wants to retire with their yacht. But now, a flurry of new development is building out the city for younger residents who (gasp!) may not even own a boat.

Miami-based Doron Broman, the managing partner of 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 there.”

There’s plenty happening now. According to the Fort Lauderdale Downtown Development Authority (DDA), more than 50 developments are in the pipeline, 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, Dependable Equities and Kushner Co., as well as Houston-based Hines and Denver-based Aimco.

© Provided by New York Post The Edition Residences is the brand’s first-ever purely residential project.Courtesy of Edition

One of Broman’s concerns is the Tarpon River Entertainment and Design District (TREDD), a onetime commercial neighborhood south of the New River.

“We turned 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 business,” he said. A hipster neighborhood? “You could call it that,” he answered.

Next comes the Rivr Lofts, a 28-story apartment building, and 501 Urban, a proposed $300 million project in Broward County, adding two 30-story rental towers.

© Provided by New York Post Swanky new condos like the 28-story Rivr Lofts will transform Fort Lauderdale’s once sleepy downtown into a world-class hot spot.Moderno Development

“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 the workers following,” added DDA board member Charlie Ladd, owner of Baron Real Estate. “But for us, it’s the other way around. People want to live here and employers are following.”

West Marine, Future Tech, Icon International, Solomon Partners, Reveneer, BelHealth Investment Partners, and Hong Kong-based TTI are some corporations adding to the city’s job market.

Ladd said he once had a hard time getting high-end retailers into his commercial real estate developments — he now name-checks Beverly Hills restaurant the Henry as a tenant.

“For years, chefs only knew Miami. I fought to get them here,” he added. “It was kind of a little village when I moved here in 1984. Downtown had two buildings. Now our airport sees 35 million people pass through each year and that’s comparable to Orlando.”

© Provided by New York Post The luxe 140-room Whitfield Hotel.Courtesy of Baron

Ladd is also developing the Whitfield, an “ultra luxurious boutique hotel,” he said, destined to open at the end of 2024.

Luxury names like Omni Hotels and Edition have set their sights on Fort Lauderdale. Opening in early 2026, the 800-room Omni Fort Lauderdale is adjacent to the Broward County Convention Center.

However, Edition Residences Fort Lauderdale is the brand’s first non-hotel development, adding to over 3,600 residential units gained over the last five years.

© Provided by New York Post New luxury stays include the 800-room Omni Hotel.Courtesy of OMNI

“Fort Lauderdale is coming into its own,” said Asi Cymbal, chairman of Cymbal DLT Companies, which is developing 6 acres of waterfront and the Nautica Hotel and Residences. “Fort Lauderdale is evolving into one of the best cities in the world.”

Cymbal DLT made national news when it relocated a 100-year-old rain tree from its proposed waterfront development plot, rather than simply destroying it.

“That is who we are as a company,” he insisted. “We want to preserve the quality and history of the waterfront.”

© Provided by New York Post The massive mixed-use Nautica Hotel and Residences.Courtesy of Cymbal

To that end, a quaint local favorite, the Pirate Republic restaurant will be moved over, too, all making way for five high-rise towers, ranging from apartments to a branded luxury hotel and restaurant, and including a private yacht club, a spa and a yacht valet.

“We’re creating a nautical district with its own marina,” said Cymbal. “You can push a button on your phone and your yacht will be waiting. We want to draw boaters for the day, or to come and live here.”

It’s all about keeping Fort Lauderdale, “Fort Lauderdale.”

“We ended up with a downtown people enjoy,” he said. “It’s walkable, it’s safe. We got it right.”


New York Post

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