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The Real Deal Miami

Hollywood and Dania Beach mayors cite advantages for real estate investment

Josh Levy, mayor Hollywood: "We’re interested in projects that elevate our brand"
By Joseph A. Mann Jr. | March 03, 2017 08:45AM

A rendering of Dania Pointe, a $1 billion mixed-use development planned for Dania Beach

Hollywood and Dania Beach are ripe for redevelopment, with more than $1 billion in projects already in the works and the possibility of more, mayors of the Broward cities said at an event on Thursday.

Josh Levy and Tamara James, the mayors of the Hollywood and Dania Beach, respectively, told attendees at Urban Land Institute meeting in Fort Lauderdale that their aging housing stocks offer one of many opportunities for new development and redevelopment projects in residential and commercial real estate. They also pointed to the significant real estate investments they’ve already attracted to their strategically located communities, and see room for much more.

From left, Robert Shapiro, Tamara James, Andrew Maxey and Josh Levy (Credit: Peter J. Nolan)

“We have plenty of land for development and redevelopment and we’ve been able to move ahead with many important real estate projects,” including converting an old Jai Alai center into the Casino at Dania Beach, adding new hotels and implementing the Oasis projects to improve city neighborhoods and the quality of life for residents and visitors, said James, whose community is the oldest in Broward. It began 112 years ago as a tomato-growing center and became a popular site for antique shops.

“We don’t want to be just the city you go by on the way to the [Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International] airport,” James said.

The mayors, speaking at a forum sponsored by the law firm Becker & Poliakoff, both stressed the strategic advantages of their locations between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, including their easy access to I-95, the Florida Turnpike, Port Everglades, the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and freight rail lines. They also cited lower commercial leasing rates than Miami, attractive residential communities and excellent beaches.

Population growth is a key factor for real estate in Broward, which is expanding faster than any other county in the state.

Both mayors stressed that their respective administrations are open to new development and redevelopment projects that “are compatible with our vision for growth and our uniqueness,” James said. “People like the city’s quaint personality and we want to preserve that.”

Levy said Hollywood’s housing stock is “pushing 60-plus.” “We’re interested in projects that elevate the brand of our city,” said Levy, whose municipality is home to the highly successful Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort and other hospitality projects.

As examples of their ability to attract new investments and meet growing residential and commercial demand in Broward, the mayors pointed to two major projects, with investments totaling well over $1 billion.

Andrew Maxey, land project manager for Pulte Homes, South Florida division, described his company’s Parkview at Hillcrest redevelopment in Hollywood, which covers about 170 acres, including 70 acres of parks. “We acquired the Hillcrest Golf and Country Club in 2016 and are building 645 units, including 275 single-family homes and 370 attached town houses,” Maxey said.

Located west of I-95 and east of Florida’s Turnpike, the property is designed to absorb some of “the pent-up demand for single-family homes in Broward,” he said. Parkview at Hillcrest offers 12 residential designs in the $300,000 to $500,000 range, has a clubhouse, resort-style pool and 3.5 miles of pedestrian walkways.

Maxey said the total capital investment will be about $168 million, including $25 million for the raw land.

In Dania Beach, Dania Pointe is a massive mixed-use development whose total cost is expected to reach beyond $1 billion, said Robert Shapiro, president of Master Development Inc., a developer in a joint venture with Kimco Realty Corp.

Covering about 105 acres, Dania Pointe will have 1,000 apartments (including 600 rentals); about 900,000 square feet of retail space, 500,000 square feet of office space, 300 hotel rooms and a large entertainment center, Shapiro said. The development is located alongside I-95 near Stirling Road, and replaces the old wooden roller coaster, a familiar site on the east side  of I-95 for many years, and Boomers arcade and go-cart track.

Developers paid $70 million to purchase the Dania Pointe properties, but had to pay $80 million to recondition the site before construction began last year.

“We talk about developments where people can live, work and play,” Shapiro said. “But I like to add – eat and have fun.”

Responding to a question about traffic congestion in Hollywood and other parts of Broward, Levy said that Broward County needs to set up an effective central headquarters for synchronizing traffic lights, especially during peak traffic hours.

Master Development’s Shapiro said that the Florida Dept. of Transportation needs to upgrade entry/exit points along I-95 to accommodate new commercial and residential growth, and added that counties and cities need to boost investment in improving their roads.