More downtown areas pop up in suburban cities

Downtown Delray Beach
Downtown Delray Beach

Downtown areas in suburban South Florida cities have been popped up in recent years as developers try to accommodate people who want to live, work and play in one place.

For example, a 130-acre mixed-use development now under construction will serve as the downtown of Pembroke Pines, complete with 1,900 residential units, hotel rooms, offices, restaurants, shops and a new city hall.

Among other examples, both Boca Raton and Coral Springs are encouraging dense development of downtown areas. A new hotel and several high-rise residential buildings are under construction in the center of Boca.

Erick Valle, a town planner and architect in Coral Gables, told the Sun-Sentinel that high land prices are encouraging denser, vertical development in suburban cities: “We ran out of land. Once you run out of land, the land becomes very expensive.”

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Developers designed bedroom communities in western South Florida without a center, Diane Colonna, executive director of the Margate Community Redevelopment Agency, told the Sun-Sentinel.

“They were not taking into consideration that at some point people would want to walk places,” she told the newspaper. “There’s a real desire  … for cities to have a sense of place, something that’s unique to your city, and a gathering place, a place to run into friends.”

The city of Margate has purchased 36 acres at the intersection of State Road 7 and Margate Boulevard for development of a downtown area with homes, retail stores and entertainment venues.

Other suburban cities encouraging development of downtown areas include Boynton Beach, Coconut Creek, Dania Beach, Delray Beach, Oakland Park, Pompano Beach and Tamarac. [Sun-Sentinel] — Mike Seemuth