Keeping affluent workforce local to downtown is a huge benefit for businesses and developers
[Affordable housing in downtown Fort Lauderdale]
Affordable housing in downtown Fort Lauderdale is the key to continued growth in the region. To move the city forward, we need sensible development that facilitates the local economy and creates more options for local and future residents.
You can find almost anything you want in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale. Grocery stores, nightlife, offices, restaurants, art galleries, museums, entertainment venues and much more – they’re all there.
With the creation of F.A.T. Village and MASS District, what was once considered a ghost town, has become a vibrant creative hub where young affluent professionals gather to push the culture of Fort Lauderdale forward.
Broward County needs to accommodate and embrace this new generation of workers by providing more options for affordable housing downtown in Fort Lauderdale.
By focusing a section of downtown housing to suit the needs (and budgets) of our younger, affluent, median-income workforce, we will ensure a more prosperous future for Downtown Fort Lauderdale.
As of 2017, the median home price in Broward County is reported to be $330,000. For renters with a median household income about $55k, the average rent they can afford to pay is $1,800, a price that’s out of reach for 78% of renters. Further research shows that almost 59% of renters in Broward County are considered cost burdened.
Despite these metrics, the price tags on most downtown residential units continue to increase.
More than 300 thousand people will be calling Broward County home by 2040. By then Broward County will be home to 2.1 million residents, which doesn’t even account for the tourists and snowbirds that visit year-round (some of whom own timeshares and other residential properties in the area).
It is important that developers and local officials continue to provide options that will not exceed more than 30% of the annual median household income. Housing that caters to the median household income of $60,000 and costs around $2,000 a month is the sweet spot. Which, according to Jenni Morejon, Director of Fort Lauderdale’s Downtown Development Authority, is exactly what the city needs in order to continue this trend of thoughtful urban growth.
To guarantee this, the Fort Lauderdale City Commission needs to implement new strategies that empower local residents and commuters to remain in the city.
Even now there is a misconstrued idea that affordable housing in Downtown Fort Lauderdale doesn’t exist.
This notion is off-base, but what it does tell us is that we need to make these options more obvious to locals and future residents.
Strategies and policies that could stimulate growth and ease the burden of housing in downtown Fort Lauderdale include:
- Creating incentives for developers who are willing to create and offer units at affordable rates, by allowing them to create bigger projects, taller buildings, or perhaps more units. Development of these units could be constructed along major roadways, or close to the boundaries of Downtown.
- Tax breaks for developers could be created on the city’s property taxes, for developers willing to create affordable housing units.
Some of the projects already setting the standard for what sensible housing looks like in Downtown Fort Lauderdale:
Fat City, located in the center of Fat Village and just two blocks from the newly created Brightline Station, will house 612 apartments in two, 30 story buildings. The buildings will house Class A offices and retail spaces while creating housing that is perfectly priced for the up and coming affluent workers. With rents starting from $1,000 to $2,000 a month this is the prime example of what sensible housing looks like.
Icon Las Olas hits the sweet spot that Downtown Development Authority director, Jenni Morejon, referred to with rents starting at $2,000 a month. This ultra-lux 272-unit development will certainly fill the gap for the young affluent workforce.
X Las Olas treads in the middle of the two developments mentioned above. The development project consists of two towers of 1,200 units. One tower will be aimed at modest renters (that will no doubt attract young workers), while the other tower will be aimed at more affluent workers. All in all 70% of renters in X Las Olas can expect to pay less than $2,000 a month.
Compared to Miami’s soaring rent prices, Downtown Fort Lauderdale is slowly creating an affordable haven for the affluent commuting millennials that call Fort Lauderdale home.
Local government should encourage developers to continue building in this “middle ground,” rather than forcing their hand with legislation for inclusionary zoning and so forth. Thoughtful downtown development will yield the needed benefits for our newly improved landscape.
Ultimately, it is at developers and investors benefit to provide living options for the influx of new residents. By keeping our workforce local, the city of Fort Lauderdale will continue to attract businesses and industry leader.