Fort Lauderdale board recommends approval for $49M in Las Olas improvements

Rendering of proposed Las Olas improvements
Rendering of proposed Las Olas improvements

Fort Lauderdale’s Beach Redevelopment Advisory Board recommended Wednesday that the city approve a $49.4 million plan to replace two municipal parking lots with park space along the Fort Lauderdale Beach stretch of Las Olas Boulevard.

According to the plan, parking losses will be partially offset by the addition of a five-story, 663-space parking garage, while the length of Las Olas Boulevard between A1A’s southbound and northbound lanes will be turned into a pedestrian-friendly “festival street,” by removing the median, placing both street and sidewalk at the same grade, adding bicycle lanes and extending retail and café fronts on the north side of the road.

The project’s centerpiece — an oceanfront park plaza with a flexible event lawn, a police substation, public restrooms, a portico, a coconut grove and a children’s play fountain — will replace the city’s Oceanside parking lot, while the South Intracoastal lot will be turned into additional flexible green space surrounded by a pedestrian promenade.

The garage, which will be built on a portion of the North Intracoastal lot at the west end of the barrier island, will include a flexible amenity deck and connect to the oceanfront park by a 23-person golf cart-style tram.

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In total, Fort Lauderdale will lose 172 parking spots, but the project’s lead designer, Paul Kissinger of the design firm EDSA, noted at the Wednesday meeting that the board and commissioners had agreed that it makes sense to have parking distributed further along the island.

“One of the things we’ve seen everywhere is parking,” added Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, “As much as we get the complaint, the demand is slowly going down with Uber and Lyft.”

Anthony Abbate, the board’s chair, said the board would be examining other factors that have come into play city-wide, citing “the phenomenon of sea-level rise,” as well as the changes in transportation modes.

“We’re confident that this project, as presented, anticipates these changes, and I think that we should move forward,” he said.

The first phase of construction could begin as early as March if, as expected, the city commission approves a contract with construction manager Skanska USA at its Jan. 18th meeting.

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