For years, Alan Hooper was trying to acquire a parcel for his development group’s large-scale mixed-use project, FATVillage, in Fort Lauderdale, but the owner wouldn’t budge. Hooper had grown so frustrated that he was even planning to move ahead with the project and build around the site.
Last week, Hooper was finally able to buy out the holdout, allowing his real estate company to move forward with the project in Fort Lauderdale’s new arts and entertainment district. Fat Village Properties LLC, managed by Hooper and Urban Street Development LLC, bought the 12,750-square-foot site at 516 Northwest 1st Avenue for $5.5 million or $431 per square foot. Carol Daggett Lenahan was the seller.
“It makes everything a lot more efficient,” Hooper said. “It was a center parcel. It was dead center in the plan.”
Hooper’s Urban Street Development is spearheading development of FATVillage, which will consist of eight buildings and will include apartments, offices, retail spaces, restaurants, a commercial parking garage and a hotel. It will cost approximately $300 million, according to its website. In total, the project will span over 506,000 square feet.
FATVillage’s first component will be the Forge Lofts – 35 boutique, luxury rental lofts. The project will also include two residential towers with 307 units.
Property owners Doug McCraw and Lutz Hofbauer created the FATVillage Arts District from old industrial properties. The area is designed to be similar to Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, where developers also repurposed old warehouses into art galleries, restaurants and bars.
The area is also in a designated Opportunity Zone. The federal program allows developers or investors to gain substantial tax advantages for investing in certain areas throughout the country.
Hooper said so far the project has not received any Opportunity Zone money, but he said Opportunity Zone funds are reaching out to invest in the project.
FATVillage is near the Virgin Trains USA Fort Lauderdale station. The high-speed train line offers stops in Miami and West Palm Beach and plans to add stops in Boca Raton and Tampa. Development is booming around the train stations. Virgin Trains USA’s parent company FECI is planning to build a 14-story building at 101 Northwest Third Street Street in Fort Lauderdale.