Turning Point: Condo boom spreads to Fort Lauderdale

Galleria Mall (inset: Peter Zalewski)
Galleria Mall (inset: Peter Zalewski)

For the first three years of this South Florida condo boom, developers in the Downtown Fort Lauderdale area practically sat idle as their counterparts in Greater Downtown Miami announced nearly 65 new towers.

This inaction by the Fort Lauderdale area condo developers could be about to dramatically change following an announcement made last week.

The ownership group that controls the 34-year-old Galleria mall on Fort Lauderdale’s Sunrise Boulevard revealed details of a $1 billion redevelopment plan for the tired shopping center that includes seven new towers with up to 1,600 condos, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

This single announcement has suddenly tripled the number of new condos proposed for the Downtown Fort Lauderdale and Beach market to nearly 2,450 units from less than 850 units as of Sept. 9, according to the preconstruction condo projects website CraneSpotters.com.

(For disclosure purposes, my firm operates the website.)

The Galleria proposal makes the Fort Lauderdale area the third most active South Florida coastal market for new condo units, behind only Greater Downtown Miami – with nearly 18,300 announced units – and the Hollywood / Hallandale Beach market at more than 3,600 new units.

Rounding out the top five most active markets for newly proposed condos is West Palm Beach at No. 4 with nearly 2,125 units and Sunny Isles Beach at No. 5 with nearly 2,115 units. The Aventura market is not far behind with nearly 2,110 units proposed.

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Before the Galleria announcement, the Fort Lauderdale condo market ranked as the ninth most active area for new condo units in this boom behind Coral Gables, which has about 1,073 proposed units, but ahead of Boca Raton’s 717 units.

Overall, developers have now proposed 278 new condo towers with more than 38,150 units to be built east of I-95 in the tri-county area of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties as of Monday.

Broward County accounts for nearly 17 percent of all condos proposed in coastal South Florida during this boom. Miami-Dade County represents nearly 74 percent of the total proposed units for the tri-county region, while Palm Beach County accounts for about 9 percent of the announced units.

By comparison, developers created nearly 49,000 coastal units in South Florida during the previous boom. Some 21 percent of the units created during the previous boom were located in Broward County.

It is worth noting the Downtown Fort Lauderdale and Beach market was home to nearly 11 percent of the units created in coastal South Florida during the last condo boom.

The unanswered question going forward is whether the ambitious redevelopment plans for the Galleria mall site will spur – or scare away – other condo developers in the Downtown Fort Lauderdale and Beach market.

Peter Zalewski is real estate columnist for The Real Deal who founded Condo Vultures LLC, a consultancy and publishing company, as well as Condo Vultures Realty LLC and CVR Realty brokerages and the Condo Ratings Agency, an analytics firm. The Condo Ratings Agency operates CraneSpotters.com, a preconstruction condo projects website, in conjunction with the Miami Association of Realtors.