BY BUDDY NEVINS
Get used to huge skyscrapers blocking the sun.
Get used to crushing traffic jams.
Get used to lengthy lines everywhere from restaurants to Publix.
Welcome to Fort Lauderdale’s future, as envisioned by your elected politicians.
Word from Larry Barszewski in the Sun-Sentinel is that the population of downtown Fort Lauderdale “could grow eventually to more than 45,000.”
It was 8,200 in 2010 and there are already enough approved projects for it to roughly double.
Having 44,000 live in downtown Fort Lauderdale will negatively impact the entire city.
There are already portions of Fort Lauderdale where residents are unable to leave their homes at times because of the heavy traffic.
Why would anyone want to add to the problem? Did residents ask for any of this?
Fort Lauderdale once had a quaint downtown with a laid-back lifestyle. A lot of people like it that way.
Thanks to the developers’ lapdogs in City Hall, Fort Lauderdale is fast becoming a third-rate copy of every Sunbelt City from here to Richmond.
Those complaining about Marina Lofts because of a tree should turn their attention to the big picture. They should see the forest growing up around them instead of one tree.
Miami: A Real City
Let’s compare Fort Lauderdale’s dream with Miami’s reality.
Miami’s 1.8 square mile downtown area, stretching from the Brickell financial center to the Arts and Entertainment area near the American Airlines Arena, contained 32,100 residents in the 2010 census.
There is a reason 32,100 residents want to live in downtown Miami.
Miami is a real city with all a city has to offer.
Key to Miami’s success is its role in international business (i.e., jobs), especially with Latin America. This has attracted thousands of new residents, both part-time and full-time.
Miami has nationally-rated sports, performing arts and museums. It is the financial centers for Spanish-speaking world. It fronts on Biscayne Bay and is an easy drive on expressways to one of the hottest beach scenes in the nation – South Beach. It has internationally renowned bars and restaurants nearby.
Miami is also easier to get around. It is has direct exit/entrance ramps for two expressways, plus an elaborate bus system and two rail transit system – Metrorail and Metromover.
Downtown Fort Lauderdale has restaurants and bars. A decidedly small group, many unremarkable because they are branches of chains.
Oh, there are the arts. Although the Performing Arts Center is first rate, there is little else.
Jobs? The number of employers in downtown Fort Lauderdale is minuscule compared to Miami. I would actually bet there are more good jobs within two miles of the Sawgrass Mills in Sunrise than in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
You’ll have to go to Miami or Sunrise.
Getting around downtown Fort Lauderdale is already a nightmare. Interstate-95 is roughly a mile away reachable only by driving on already crowded West Broward Broward across railroad tracks.
Frankly, transit is one of those feel good and apple pie issues. Until you start considering who will pay for it and ride it.
Nobody is getting out of their cars in steamy, rainy South Florida that doesn’t have to.
Given that lukewarm support, there is little chance voters will approve paying for transit when there are so many more important unmet needs.
A lot has been said about building transit on the Florida East Coast Railway serving downtown, but who is going to pay? What happens to the Tri-Rail, which has already cost taxpayers more than a billion dollars?
Miami is lucky they built their transit system when money was flowing from the federal government. That day is over.
So where does this leave downtown Fort Lauderdale.
Wishing, hoping and striving to be one of the Big Guys.
Why? Why try to be just one more bland indistinguishable high-rise Sunbelt City?
City fathers should be happy protecting and building on what’s left of our unique lifestyle. They should think twice before permitting any more units downtown.