City commissioners approved a restaurant and music venue operator’s proposal to build and operate a new park with a cultural center on municipal land in the Flagler Village area just north of downtown Fort Lauderdale.
The city commission voted 4-1 at their meeting Tuesday night to approve a 50-year agreement with Damn Good Hospitality Group LLC, a local company that runs Revolution Live, a live-music venue with indoor and outdoor stages in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Damn Good Hospitality also operates Green Bar & Kitchen, a restaurant near the Southeast 17th Street corridor in Fort Lauderdale; and Warren Delray, a restaurant in Delray Beach, according to its website.
The company plans to build a cultural center offering food and beverage service, exhibitions and live entertainment on a city-owned, triangle-shaped block that spans 3.3 acres. The fenced-off block at 301 North Andrews Avenue, two blocks north of City Hall, is known as the One Stop Shop property because the city government once had a permitting office there.
A rendering of a conceptual site plan shows two structures for the cultural center taking up one-third of the site. The other two-thirds of the site would be an open space that retains two existing banyan trees and three existing oak trees.
The city would retain ownership of the site and would own all improvements to the property, including the cultural center and park. Damn Good Hospitality would build on the property and fund it at an estimated cost of more than $100 million.
Damn Good Hospitality would pay the city an annual “licensing” fee that would rise gradually from $250,000 the first year to $1.5 million the seventh year of the initial 50-year term of the agreement. The company is also responsible for maintenance and repair work.
The term could be extended twice, 25 years each time, up to a maximum of 100 years. Damn Good Hospitality also could transfer ownership of the project to another developer if the commission concurred.
The agreement states it “does not establish a tenant-landlord relationship, a partnership, a joint venture, or an agency relationship between the parties.”
The new park would open to the public daily from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., and the city would be allowed to use the cultural center, at no charge, at least 12 times a year for events that do not conflict with revenue-generating uses planned by Damn Good Hospitality.
The company will receive all revenue generated by the property, including ticket sales, food and beverage sales, merchandise sales, concession fees, and parking fees. Prohibited uses of the park and cultural center include gambling and adult entertainment. The company also is barred from naming any part of the park or cultural center without the approval of the city commission.
Led by Jeffrey J. John, Damn Good Hospitality made an unsolicited offer in 2020 to redevelop the One Stop Shop site. The city responded by soliciting alternative redevelopment proposals, but received none.
Construction of the project may not start before 2024 because Damn Good Hospitality must complete a detailed site development plan to submit for city review before applying for a building permit, said Stephanie Toothaker, an attorney for the company.
Many critics of the project who spoke publicly at the commission meeting argued that the One Stop Shop property should become a pure park without a cultural center. But supporters said the cultural center would enliven the property. Even commissioner Heather Moraitis, who cast the sole vote against the project, agreed that “we need a restaurant or something to activate it.”
John, of Damn Good Hospitality, said the project reflects years of local discussion about crafting pedestrian-friendly public spaces in Fort Lauderdale.
“When we came up with the idea for this project, I was really inspired by the community conversation about activating and programming our city and our parks,” John said. “We will be submitting something special.”