In 1931, potato farmer Frederick Peters escaped the harsh Missouri winter to South Florida, where he purchased 10,000 vacant acres along State Road 441. Peters retained architect Russell Pancoast to come up with a master plan for a city where no house looked alike and two-thirds of the one-acre lots were dedicated to vegetable gardens and fruit trees.
Two decades later, city leaders officially adopted the name Plantation, which honored the community’s agricultural roots.
Today, Plantation is one of Broward County’s booming suburban markets for corporations looking to avoid the congestion of downtown Fort Lauderdale. The city’s major employers include American Express, Motorola, Florida Power and Light, University of Miami Sylvester Cancer Center, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, DHL, Plantation General Hospital and Westside Regional Medical Center.
Plantation has been able to attract big name tenants to western Broward County by offering the type of amentities that cater to a corporate clientele. For instance, the city is home to the Plantation Preserve Golf Course and Club that features an 18-hole championship golf course with an Everglades-inspired wetlands situated throughout the back nine, and a 55-acre trail that bisects the front and back nines.
Signs of Change
In 2007, unable to recover from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and then the economic recession, the Fashion Mall in Plantation shuttered its doors, dealing a major blow to Plantation’s business district. A year later, city officials renamed the area the Plantation Midtown District, and renovated it with brick pavers, widened sidewalks, bicycle paths, bus shelters, pocket parks and street lighting. The efforts soon attracted new commercial development into the city that began with the construction of The Residences at The Fountains, a 251-unit housing complex with 5,000 feet of retail space, located behind The Fountain Shoppes on University Drive.
In 2013, Stiles Corporation completed One Plantation, a luxury apartment complex consisting of two 12-story towers with 321 units, a clubhouse and a parking garage. A year later, the company finished the redevelopment of the University Shoppes which is located adjacent to the apartment complex. Renamed the Shoppes at One Plantation, the center’s tenant roster includes World of Beer, Tijuana Flats, IHOP, Fedex, McDonald’ s, and Xfinity. The entire project is a joint venture with Prudential Real Estate Investors.
“We foresee continuing, strong demand for amenity-rich rental residences just steps away from shopping, dining, services and entertainment,” said Stiles Vice Chairman Douglas Eagon in a statement. “A Stiles partnership acquired the site several years ago, recognizing its potential as a cornerstone location in the city of Plantation’s vision for Midtown.”
In response to the growing demand for amenity-abundant properties, Lincoln Property Group invested more than $4 million in renovations since acquiring Royal Palm Office Park in fall 2014. Renovations include high-end finishes to common areas, a newly created tenant lounge and fitness center, and an upgraded state-of-the-art conference center.
In the past 12 months, Plantation’s commercial real estate market has seen 15 new companies move into the city, including Virgin Cruises, Movement Mortgage, Camso and Thornton Construction. Investors are also taking notice of Plantation’s attractiveness, as evidenced by recent sales.
For example, Gramercy Property Trust acquired a two-building office complex totalling 246,549 square feet in March of last year for $52 million, or $211 per square foot. The property, which includes Kaplan University, previously traded for $44 million in 2010. A month later, afiliates of Indianapolis-based Duke Realty sold nine office properties to a partnership between Starwood Capital, Trinity Capital Advisors and Vanderbilt Office Properties for $178.3 million. More recently, Grand Peak Properties purchased a 481-unit community, including apartments and townhomes, called Solero at Plantation for $122.7 million in January, making it the first sale in South Florida exceeding $100 million this year.
Plantation does not have its own public transit system. Instead, residents and visitors must rely on Broward County public buses that service the city. Plantation’s main road running north to south is University Drive, which connects to I-595. The main artery running east to west is Broward Boulevard, which can funnel motorists to I-95 and the Florida Turnpike.
Most Expensive Residential Sale
Hawks Landing, 6,841-square-foot home at 380 Sweet Bay Avenue with six bedrooms and seven-and-a-half bathrooms sold for $2.4 million in March
Commercial broker’s take
“In addition to the competitive rates, accessible location and diverse space options, Plantation also offers several amenities including ample residential offerings, a highly educated talent pool, and a top-notch education system, Danet Linares, vice chairman of Blanca Commercial Real Estate said in a statement. “This combination positions Plantation as a favorable option for companies looking to relocate to the South Florida region or those who are looking to expand their workforce with highly educated talent,” Danet Linares of Blanca Commercial Real Estate
Demographic changes from 2000 to 2015
Population: 92,560, up 10% from 2010 and up 15% from 2000
Median age: 38
Median income: $66,886, a 24% increase from 2000
Average household net worth: $577,055
Median sales price per square foot: $151, nine percent higher than the rest of Broward County
Increase in average rent over the last year: 22% for a one-bedroom to $1,388; 25% for a two-bedroom to $1,875
Most expensive on the market: Plantation Acres, 6,903 square-foot residence with 8 bedrooms and seven bathrooms for $3.9 million.
Least expensive on the market: Townhouses at Jacaranda Condominiums, 2,080 square-foot residence with four bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms for $102,500.
Since fall of last year, Plantation’s luxury residential market has experienced a flurry of new projects that have either been announced or broken ground. Last October, Arizona-based Alliance Residential Co. picked up a 12-acre property at 6901 West Sunrise Boulevard for $7.5 million using proceeds from a $33 million Wells Fargo loan. Alliance plans to build a 250 garden-style project that surrounds a lake on the property. Called Broadstone at Plantation, it will include a community clubhouse, pool, fitness center and dog park.
In February, Plantation-based Invesca Development Group won unanimous approval from the city council to develop 147 townhomes on vacant land located at 4350 West Sunrise Boulevard. The project is called Strata. Invesca is offering two-bedroom and three-bedroom units starting in the mid-$200,000s with amenities that include fitness trails, beach volley courts, three parks, resort style pool with its own cafe and a fitness center. The developer is aiming for a 2017 completion date.
Roughly six miles west of the Strata site, Mill Creek Residential is also getting in on the multi-family action in Plantation. The firm, which specializes in luxury apartment development and management, is seeking city approval for its 58-acre Cornerstone Corporate Center at 1240 South Pine Island Road, which includes a 300-unit multifamily component.
And last month, Encore Capital Management CEO Art Falcone unveiled his bold plan to redevelop the shuttered Fashion Mall property into a walkable “small town.” After purchasing the 37-acre site at auction for $37.7 million in April 2015, Falcone plans to spend $300 million to create 224,104 square feet of new commercial and retail space, 247,305 square feet of office space, and 700 apartments, he recently told The Real Deal.