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The 2020 Winterfest Boat Parade was cancelled in the name of social responsibility. Are we the only ones scratching our heads?\

Take the poll: https://poll.app.do/should-the-winterfest-boat-parade-have-been-cancelled

Winterfest Boat Parade 2020

It’s strange to see which events are deemed acceptable and which are considered a threat to public health and safety. In reality, there’s no real guideline to which types of community events can or shouldn’t be held. It’s on a pick and choose basis at this point. So, why choose to cancel the 2020 Winterfest Boat Parade?

For those who aren’t familiar with this wonderful aquatic spectacle, the maritime parade draws small groups of crowds to parks and restaurants along the intracoastal waterway for a night of glee. Boats piloted by locals literally deck the halls and masts with Christmas lights and cruise through Fort Lauderdale for all to see. But not this year. No, the 50th anniversary of the Winterfest Boat Parade will be moved to 2021, along with so much else from our social lives.

What’s interesting is that the cancellation, though decided on August 18th, is in the wake of a small scale Fort Lauderdale International Boat show, which was a great success. FLIBS assembled a thorough coronavirus safety list and guests responded willfully, because why wouldn’t they?

Now, the Winterfest Boat Parade is different than Boat Show in many ways…

  • It’s smaller in scale
  • It draws fewer groups of people to crowded areas
  • It’s one night instead of 3 full days
  • There are few to no interactions between groups and individuals
  • It’s spread across a larger area to help prevent crowds and congestion
  • It’s largely outdoors

The list goes on… What has us scratching our heads is why? Why couldn’t the Winterfest Boat Parade go on as planned?

By now, families and individuals are well aware of CDC guidelines regarding coronavirus. The only thing spectators would need to do at the Winterfest Boat Parade is wear masks, limit large groups, and keep their movement from place to place to a minimum. That’s it.

Lisa Scott-Founds, President and CEO of Winterfest Inc. had this to say, “Our team, partners and community supporters were very hopeful for the traditional holiday boat parade to continue in December. This was a very difficult decisions, but we are being proactive and socially responsible for the health and safety of our community. That is our top priotity.”

Okay, makes sense. Businesses and organizations needs to protect themselves. That’s the reality of 2020. Still… we’re scratching our heads.

If anyone could shed light on this or share more insights into why they think the Winterfest Boat Parade was cancelled, we’d love to hear from you.

Why cancel a small, wholesome event like the Winterfest Boat Parade when so many others are recklessly gathering for protests, political rallies, college parties, and other large scale events? 

It seems like our kids are the ones bearing the brunt of coronavirus madness (socially that is). They’ve been unable to attend school, see their friends, play extracurricular sports… and now this! Dramatics aside, to us, it’s questionable why the boat parade couldn’t go as planned. The entire country has been gathering at massive political rallies for the past few months, college campuses are open and so are their parties, many Americans have been traveling for the holidays. Yet despite all of these potential super spreading events, we cancel a small Christmas festivity. WHY! (again with the dramatics)

Write us on Facebook with your thoughts.

Here's Why the Proposed P3 for "The One-Stop Shop" Doesn't Benefit the PUBLIC

Save this park say no to the P3

A Message from Anthony J. Abbate AIA, LEED AP to the Mayor & Fort Lauderdale City Commission

The proposed P3 for the One-Stop Shop has been THE topic of discussion in recent weeks. But this isn’t a new debate. No, our county has been fighting for well over 10 years to defend the city-owned land parcel at 301 N Andrews Avenue to ensure it becomes Fort Lauderdale’s downtown park. This open green space site really is a gem and deserves to be maintained by the public. Once we designate this land to be used as part of this P3, we will lose it forever. We need to stand up, unite, and use our collective voice to make this space our next community park.

Anthony J. Abbate is doing just that and we should be following his example!

Here’s what he has to say…

Dear Mayor Trantalis, Vice Mayor Glassman, Mr McKinzie, Mr Sorensen, Ms Moraitis, and Mr Lagerbloom:

I have been following conversations and events related to plans for the so-called “Former One-Stop Shop Site” over the years and have some concerns about the current plans for this valuable public site.

In 2015, Flagler Village residents mounted a campaign #OurNextPark to dedicate the 3.5 acre parcel, assessed at over $10m (per the County Property Appraiser), as a public park.  This campaign was mounted around the time a real estate consultant, CBRE, released a report recommending the site for redevelopment.  The site has a long history, and was the site of our city hall until the current municipal facility was erected at 100 N Andrews.  In the 1950s prominent local architects collaborated on design proposals for the mid-century city hall, now demolished.

The site also features a rare Dracaena cinnabari tree in remarkable condition as well as several mature native trees. The site was included in the creation of Flagler Village, spurred on by the “Eastward Ho!” movement as part of a district especially designed to encourage a mix of urban housing. The vision for the area was substantiated by two planning studies funded by the city: A New Vision fo Flagler Heights/Progressoby the noted architect Christopher Alexander and Toward and Urban Village in Flagler Heights, by Charles Euchner (formerly of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University). I worked closely with both Alexander and Euchner, connecting them with residents and property owners – including the late Peter Feldman- and holding neighborhood walks, attending meetings and assisting the city in organizing community forums. Both plans presented frameworks that include parks as an immediate priority as community focal points and centers that anchor the community’s vision for a walkable vibrant public realm.

With wide community support for these plans the DDA requested an implementation plan, developed by Dr Ned Murray (now with the Perez Metropolitan Center at FIU) and me. The Call to Action was a Targeted Improvement Plan that tackled many challenges, again working with the community and defining the public commitments and investments needed to support the private sector redevelopment of the area. The Call to Action reaffirmed the result of the public participatory process to create an eclectic tapestry of mixed uses and architectural preferences sewn together by a network of paths, sidewalks and neighborhood parks.

The level of community engagement is critical. Especially now as the number of residents in the new neighborhood has grown. That growth rests on the promise and prospect of realizing the vision. The success of any plan hinges on the political will to take decisive action.

Flagler Village needs more than the pocket park on NE 3rd Avenue named after Peter Feldman. It also needs the city to make good on its commitments to the public process and improvements to infrastructure as outlined and supported by so many plans developed during the past 3 decades.

An entertainment night-club venue is not a park.

More importantly, after so many years of reiterating the public desire for a park what is needed for you – as current elected leaders – to follow through with that vision? So far discussions have not been transparent about the details of the public-private partnership contemplated by our municipal government. Does the community have a say in the matter? The community has not only made their intentions clear, time and again but have invested in the area based on the vision. That vision – only partially realized and largely at private expense – has yet to see the city’s commitment acted upon.

When will details emerge about the public process for reviewing the disposition of this public land?

While I live nearby, I have been following the development of Flagler Heights for almost 40 years and over those 40 years the lack of transparency has never been more evident than it is today.  I urge you to listen to the voice of the community, supported by several decades of public process.

As it stands, the proposal for “Revolution Live” serves no public purpose.

Sincerely,

Anthony J. Abbate AIA, LEED AP

The One Stop Shop Fort Lauderdale and the P3

We need to follow Mr. Abbate’s lead and join the conversation immediately. We have less than 60 days to show the Fort Lauderdale Mayor and City Commission that this park is OUR PRIORITY! We’ve said it many times but we need to echo this point even louder or our community and future generations will lose out on the last hope of a beautiful and accessible downtown park space!

A Call to Action

We need to email our commissioners and Mayor as soon as possible. Feel free to borrow these talking points in your custom message to our city’s leaders. (emails below)

  1. Please explain how this project meets a public purpose. If the commission intends to allow the P3 to move forward, and if this meets a public purpose, per statue, the public’s interests must be protected.
  2. In his presentations, the developer assured FVCA that the venue would be fully indoor and that the building would be soundproof.  Flagler Village should not inherit the SW 2 Street noise problems. The standard should not be left to some decibel level, since it can be subjective. The standard should be no noise emanating from the building and should be insured in the construction specifications and enforced in the lease covenants.
  3. Flagler Village has been told by the city that apparently this is a cultural activity venue and a public purpose, and NOT a nightclub. The neighborhood should not be inheriting a nightclub on public land. Like the Parker and the BCPA, once the billing is over, will the venue close? What are the proposed hours? Will it be allowed to be used as a nightclub?
  4. The developer stated that the rooftop portion is an event space. Is this going to double as a rooftop bar? What are the hours? How will the sound be muted from the neighborhood? Will it face towards Flagler Village or Downtown?
  5. Flagler Village has been waiting for a public park at the One Stop Shop. The park portion should be designed to be iconic, like other great modern cities.
    Following ULI standards, a great park should have 4 sides. Therefore, the public park should be separated from the music venue by a road and completely apart from the venue. It should be 100% public and not used as an amenity for the venue, and the neighborhood should design the park and not the developer.
  6. A nightclub operator is not in the public park business. In exchange for $10 million/acre, the developer should be required to pay for a neighborhood-designed park
  7. At closing time, large crowds of people will cause a great deal of wear and tear and drop trash nightly onto the public park.  The Developer should pay a separate monthly CAM charge to maintain, clean and program the park.
  8. Since the city commission is choosing to allow an enormous single purpose building on public land, there is an inherent risk that the city may one day have to take it back. The design should be well thought out and the architecture should be iconic and act as a draw for tourism and economic development.
  9. It should not just be a box.  The city should drive the design. Who is the architect?
  10. Where will cars park? A city garage? This should be a revenue stream for the city that could pay for maintenance of the park.
  11. Once a deal is signed, how long will the developer be given to commence construction? There should be a hard date.

Email your Mayor and Commissioners

Mayor Trantalis: [email protected]
Vice Mayor Glassman: [email protected]
Heather Moraitis: [email protected]
Robert McKinzie: [email protected]
Ben Sorensen: [email protected]
City Manager Lagerbloom: [email protected]

Preserve our park for future generations to enjoy!

Save the one stop shop Fort Lauderdale

Since 2003, downtown neighbors have been asking and hoping for the One Stop Shop, a citizen-owned 2.75-acre vacant property in downtown Fort Lauderdale, to be designated and programmed as a community park.

In 2019, neighbors, civic leaders, and businesses spoke at a public outreach meeting and let the Federal government know unequivocally, to locate a proposed new Federal Courthouse elsewhere in favor of a park. The Feds heard the neighborhood loud and clear and decided to look south of the river.

Time and again we have cleared the way to open up the locale as a park. Past commissioners have stood with the neighbors and promised a park. Now the city commission has received an unsolicited P3 (public, private, partnership), proposal to develop an entertainment/eating/meeting venue, to occupy this sweet piece of land (or a significant chunk of it). 

After all the public dialogue, one can only scratch their head and ask, no to a federal courthouse, but yes to an entertainment venue? In this real estate market, are there no other private parcels in all of Fort Lauderdale for entertainment venue to land? And if there aren’t, shouldn’t that tell us all just how irreplaceable the one stop shop site is?

What is a P3?

Public, private, partnerships (P3s) are often used by government to deliver a public need that cannot otherwise be possible without the private sector’s participation. They are used to build highways, infrastructure, city halls, police stations, soccer stadiums, etc….

In the case of the one stop shop site, it is unclear what the public need is and why an entertainment venue qualifies as an alternative.

FATVillage Arts District Fort Lauderdale

Do the citizens of Fort Lauderdale have a great public need for a music venue, a food hall, or a meeting space? Do we need another Parker Playhouse, Signature Grand, or Sistrunk Food Hall? Throughout our city, there are many businesses in those categories that are struggling just to stay open due to COVID. Do we really need to add more of the same, on a citizen-owned property?

Late last year, the ULI (Urban Land Institute) sent experts from all over the country to Fort Lauderdale for a 3-day park symposium that illustrated how valuable the “one stop shop” is for downtown’s network of green spaces and quality of life. At a time when sustainability, resiliency, fresh air, open spaces, and good health matters so much, it is now in the hands of the city commission to do the right thing for the residents of downtown.

We should take the advice of the ULI and emulate great cities like Boston and Savannah, that embrace green space. While our downtown grows, we should be smart and endeavor to create spaces that give people a moment of separation, an instance of freedom, a chance to relax in the open air, and to enjoy being part of our beautiful city.

Consider this as a legacy for future generations.

Fort Lauderdale Parks Bond

Years from now, when most of Downtown is built and land values are a multiple of what they are now, we should be grateful that our city leaders saw the value and the beauty of nature and didn’t let this rare green space slip through their fingers. I am hopeful that our city commission will stand with us and say no to any private offers for the one stop shop, and tell the bidders that we want to save this citizen-owned property for its’ true value… A Park for the People of Fort Lauderdale!

 

Alan Hooper — Fort Lauderdale Native and Flagler Village Redeveloper

What makes city parks work?

What makes a city park work?

Last night’s FVCA Virtual Meeting (Wednesday, July 29th, 2020) regarding the One Stop Shop, unsolicited P3s, and the process of codification reinforced where most of our community members stand on the debate regarding the open green space site at 301 N. Andrews Ave. We still want the park we were promised.

After hearing some of the comments that were shared, we did a little digging into What Makes A Good Urban Park. We found this fantastic article by Peter Katz, the founding executive director of the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) and author of The New Urbanism: Toward an Architecture of Community.

You can read the full article here, however, we pulled this snippet, which we feel will resonate with all of you as we continue this parks discussion.

What makes a city park work?

What, then, defines a “good” park, a true urban public place? My [Peter Katz] own criteria for a successful urban park can be counted on one hand:

1. A park should be “nearby” for everyone.

Public open space, such as a square or “commons” should be at the center of a neighborhood; no more than five minutes’ walk from most residents. Public buildings, shops (a corner store at minimum) and a transit stop should be near the center too. Smaller parks should be scattered throughout the neighborhood so that no one is more than three minutes’ walk from a park.

2. A public park should look and feel truly public.

Being bounded by streets or sidewalks on all sides is one sure way to communicate “publicness.” The presence of civic buildings and monuments also reinforces this public character.

Conversely, spatial relationships get confusing when private houses or buildings back up to a park, without a clear public zone in between. This ambiguous edge fosters conflict between those who live next to the park, and others who come from the surrounding area. A better approach would be for houses to front the park, so that porches, front yards, and streets buffer the edge between public use and private enjoyment.

3. Parks should be simple and not over-designed.

Trees, grass, some walkways and a bench: these are the basics of my ideal park. Unfortunately, many new parks are so “designed” that it’s hard just to find a patch of grass where one can sit in the sun, or a clear meadow to set up a volleyball net. A park can have a stong identity and implied use–for example, active versus passive recreation–but it should also have enough of the “basics” to satisfy the needs of a broad range of users.

4. A park should retain or enhance the natural contours of the land.

In densely settled areas, its hard to get a sense of how the terrain looked before it was built over. I’m particularly aware of this in my own hilly city of San Francisco. I feel that too many new parks, both here and in other cities, are terraced and bermed beyond recognition. The legendary Olmsteds moved a lot of earth too, but they did it a way that always looked more natural than what they started with.

5. A good park should allow you to both see and walk through it.

Part of this relates to obvious issues of safety, but this principle also relates to the earlier point about “overdesign.” In many new parks, I feel like a victim of planning, forced to navigate an obstacle course just to get through.

By contrast, many older parks offer a simple network of walkways, providing a variety of routes for those who are just passing through. Such fleeting moments in an otherwise hectic day may be the only time that some city dwellers get to experience the pleasures of a park.

After years of neglect and misdirection, there may at last be some rays of hope for the future of urban parks.

New York’s renovated Bryant Park and Boston’s Post Office Square have been runaway successes among a new generation of parks, largely because their designs respect the basics outlined here. They’re effective models which can and should be emulated in other cities. By contrast, Los Angeles’ redesigned Pershing Square and San Francisco’s new Yerba Buena Gardens, while welcome contributions to the public realm of their respective cities, seem overdesigned and cluttered to the point of dysfunction.

As planners, designers, citizens and local governments take a renewed interest in public spaces, I offer them all a bit of advice before they get back to their drawing boards: Get out and take a walk in a “good” park. Look at the elements that cause it to work so well. Talk to the people who use it and find out what features they value most. And while you’re there, don’t forget to smell the flowers.

Conclusion

For those of us who attended the FVCA Meeting, Peter Katz’s checklist likely rings home. We saw many proposals last night that contradicted his set of criteria for what makes a city park good. But if you take a moment to study the open green space at 301 N. Andrews Avenue, you will find that it already delivers on every single item in Mr. Katz’s checklist:

  1. It’s nearby for everyone to enjoy
  2. It already feels and looks public
  3. It’s simple and inviting
  4. It has mature trees that retain the natural contours of the land
  5. It’s accessible with four access points on all sides.

We encourage you to share this article and continue to stay vigilant in the fight to save #OurNextPark.

Fort Lauderdale during COVID-19

How are South Floridians coping with life’s milestones, social living, and maintaining good mental health during the coronavirus pandemic?

The coronavirus outbreak put life as we know it at a standstill for a time. Months later, as we are still struggling to cope with the changes imposed by the virus, it’s becoming increasingly clear that our old way of living is no more.

Many of us have already had to make major sacrifices. Between the changes to our daily routines, work-life, social life, and more, we’ve been forced to drastically alter the way we live and interact. And with no end in sight, it’s impossible to determine when, if ever, we are able to return to how things were.

As we think of the many ways in which coronavirus has already disrupted our lifestyles and how it will continue to be a major burden, we are turning to our community for advice and guidance.

  • How have you been coping with these sudden and drastic changes?
  • How has this reduced your quality of living?
  • How do you feel about the news media’s coverage of the pandemic?
  • How do you think our community should be responding today?
  • What are our next steps to getting back to normal?
  • Are we ready to implement these next steps or should we continue to wait until we curve the rate of infection?

My Personal Experience

To start the conversation, I’d like to share some personal experiences on how the coronavirus has impacted my lifestyle and other ways in which it hasn’t.

The first impact I felt was in March. My fiancé (now wife) and I were expected to be married in Italy on May 10, 2020. Deposits were paid, flights were booked, invitations sent, and then Italy shut down. Our wedding was canceled and no deposits were refunded nor were we given an alternative. We simply had to wait it out while our money hung in limbo.

Next came a death in the family and then another. The medical reports claim this was coronavirus related but we aren’t too sure. Seems like it was just an easy way of doing the paperwork. At any rate, we had to wait months before we could hold a ceremony. The emotional burden this left on my wife’s side of the family was tremendous.

When social distancing and quarantine guidelines were imposed countywide, my wife’s businesses had to temporarily close. Her family owns and operates hair salons. Though they have reopened, business has shrunk immensely and the daily tasks that need to be carried out to maintain a safe working environment for guests and employees have added a major workload. And all in the wake of reduced business.

My job remained largely unaffected. Though business was impacted, we were able to continue working. This was a blessing and still is. I honestly, can’t express how fortunate we are to continue doing what we love day in and day out while others are not so lucky.

In short, my family and I have had to make sacrifices and compromises, but have also been extremely fortunate that our lifestyles were not totally interrupted. We remain healthy and employed. Not much more we can ask for.

If you’d like to share your personal experiences over these last few months, comment below. We’d like to hear all the ways you’ve adapted to current affairs.

Fort Lauderdale During COVID-19

A Second Wave of Troubles

What’s next for Broward County?

My experiences aren’t totally unique. I was unlucky and lucky at the same time. Now that we’ve reached a point where businesses are forced to shut down again, we can’t help but question how this will worsen the effects we felt months ago.

The ways in which the economy is fluctuating because of decisions made on a local level and the way in which the school board is responding to the pandemic are two areas that continue to threaten our lifestyles and ability to return to normal.

Some of the opinions I’m going to share may not be the most popular, but here we go, nonetheless.

The Economy

First off, we should reopen the economy in full. There’s no way local businesses will survive another onslaught of profit losses. If we continue to limit businesses, we will soon find they are no longer a part of our community makeup. This has already been the case for a number of iconic establishments.

It makes sense that Broward County should keep business open and operational while imposing the mandatory wearing of face masks in public. If you’re one of the individuals who is at-risk, it should be your responsibility to social distance. By limiting the types of businesses that can operate and how businesses can operate to survive, we risk setting our economy back 10-20 years.

It’s time to open the economy back up. We can easily do this if we implement social interaction guidelines, and allow people to decide whether or not they will leave their homes to stimulate local business growth. Local businesses should not have to suffer any longer to protect at-risk people!

Now, obviously there’s no way we can keep every single person safe. But we can at least defend the small businesses that define our community, while safeguarding the livelihoods of business owners who have already made great sacrifices for us.

The Best Bars, Restaurants, and Cultural Centers in Downtown Fort Lauderdale
The Best Bars, Restaurants, and Cultural Centers in Downtown Fort Lauderdale

Schooling

Yesterday, the Broward County School Board declared that the virtual learning will be applied to the Fall semester. This shortsighted decision will have detrimental consequences to our community at large!

Retuning students to school goes hand-in-hand with aiding economic revival. When kids are not in school parents must make sacrifices to accommodate them being home. In some cases, this means an inability to go to work. With this decision, even if the economy reopens in full, many parents may be unable to return to work because they have to stay home with their children. The result? Businesses will be operational with no one present to carry out the work. We’ll be stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Getting our kids back in school where they can live out crucial mental and social development milestones is essential in restarting the economy. Naturally, there are certain obstacles we face when answering this conundrum. The most obvious being keeping students and teachers safe. But there are options.

  • Face masks should be worn at all times
  • In the age of zoom meeting, teachers who are most at-risk should be able to work remote and monitor their class virtually
  • Families with at-risk relatives should take it upon themselves to self-quarantine so our children can return to life and stop sacrificing their precious milestones
  • Schools can employ temporary substitutes (who are at low-risk) to work with their students and report progress to at-risk teachers working remotely

The decision of the School Board to continue eLearning without first troubleshooting these options is one that will have negative consequences on our community at large. We can no longer simply wait for a vaccine and justify this by restricting the development of young learners at a ratio of 30 not-at-risk students to 1 at-risk teacher.

This decision will cause our children to fall behind in their curriculums and will force them to miss out on essential stages of development that cannot be replaced.

Now, I’m no parent. So, if you are, we’d love to hear your opinion on the issue. According to our most recent community poll, most people feel we should continue eLearning through the fall semester. What do you think?

Conclusion

These are just a couple of the most relevant issues being discussed today and remain at the center of conversation regarding coronavirus response in Broward County.

If you have ideas or opinions regarding the economy or schooling in the Fall semester, comment below, or tag us on Facebook and Instagram with your thoughts.

We will continue this discussion in a number of different ways in the coming weeks and would appreciate everyone’s participation. The more we can learn from one another and the more we know about how our community is responding, the more equipped we will be in the race to return to some semblance of normalcy.

The grand improvement of FATVillage has been 20 years in the making.

With the approved Master Plan for downtown Fort Lauderdale in the works, we’ll start to see the future of FATVillage come into fruition.

Watch the video below and get excited!

RECAP

GSA Meeting on February 18, 2020

Save the one stop shop Fort Lauderdale

We had a great turnout at the public input meeting on February 18th at the Broward County Main Library Auditorium. Dedicated community leaders from various neighborhood and civic associations, as well as, business owners, and passionate locals made their voices heard.

We’re pleased to say that the majority of Fort Lauderdale’s community representatives were in favor of preserving the parcel at 301 N. Andrews Avenue for use as a community park.

Though there was disagreement as to where the new federal courthouse should be built (if at any of those locations), the primary consensus was that:

  • Flagler Village is in dire need of green space to accommodate the thousands of residential units in development and the thousands more approved in the downtown master plan.
  • It would be shortsighted to strip the Fort Lauderdale community of their last remaining green space downtown — a piece of property that we, as a community, could never get back.
  • A new federal courthouse would better serve the functionality of downtown if it was situated in the judicial campus south of the New River
Save the one stop shop Fort Lauderdale

We had the pleasure of listening to the community’s feedback on this zoning issue, especially from Urban Planner, who made a heartfelt speech on the value of the One-Stop-Shop and how a community park is the missing piece in the buildout of Flagler Village.

Though it is still undetermined as to where the new federal courthouse will be located, we stood our ground and continued our 17-year defense of the One-Stop-Shop. We were proud to be a part of it.

If you were unable to attend the meeting there is still time to make your voice heard.

Mr. Ashish Desai with the General Service Administration will be accepting public input via mail or email until March 18, 2020.

You can send your letters to Mr. Ashish at Martin Luther King Jr. Building, 77 Forsyth Street, Atlanta, GA 30303; or email him at [email protected].

The more voices we rally behind this cause, the more likely we will have a beautiful community park at 301 N. Andrews Avenue for all to enjoy.

Again, thank you to everyone who attended on Tuesday! We will do our best to keep you updated on any developments regarding the new federal courthouse and the fate of the One-Stop-Shop.

Save the one stop shop Fort Lauderdale
Save the one stop shop Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale The Venice of America

How Did Fort Lauderdale Earn The Nickname, “The Venice of America?”

Upon our city seal the phrase, “The Venice of America” is engraved. The nickname is most certainly an homage to the 300 miles of canals that run through Greater Fort Lauderdale; 165 of which run directly through Fort Lauderdale.

Much like Venice, our intricate system of waterways has shaped lifestyle, culture, and enterprise. They have guided city expansion, promoted urban sprawl, and attracted millions of visitors each year.

In everything we read about Fort Lauderdale’s association to Venice, writers and historians most often attribute the connection solely to our canals. We believe there is more to it, though.

We are connecting the dots to uncover the various ways that Venice has influenced life in Fort Lauderdale. Yes, it is most certainly in part due to our waterways, but the ways in which we use our intricate aquatic system is strikingly similar.

Fort Lauderdale The Venice of America

A Brief History On The Founding Of Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale was founded by Frank Stranahan in 1893. Along with other settlers, he made his home along the New River. At this time, there were not the hundred of miles of manmade canals that we are familiar with today. But it could be said that life along the New River in the earliest days of settlement was the impetus to Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic expansion.

Stranahan established the first trading post, post office and ferry, all of which relied on this central waterway. He financed the construction of the first road from the New River to Miami and later became the president of the Fort Lauderdale State Bank.

Though our history is drastically different from the legendary city of Venice, our use of water in modality, infrastructure, communication, and city connectivity played a pivotal role in our future. Perhaps this is why we our cities share striking similarities today.

Life In Fort Lauderdale And Our Connection To Venice

Expansion

Both Venice’s and our intricate system of waterways played a significant role in the way our cities are built out.

Venice is essentially locked in. There is zero room for expansion. The entire city rests upon an interwoven series of islands that dot the head of the Adriatic Sea. These islands are connected by hundreds of bridges. Though this geography allowed their naval, military and trading influence to spread throughout the world, making them an epicenter of culture, wealth, and trade, it greatly restricted their ability to create new infrastructure.

Fort Lauderdale encountered similar barriers during building expansion. Once our city was built out, and the hundreds of miles of canals created, free land was scarce. Before building vertically, this inspired aquatic expansion. Our economy relied greatly upon our location along the Atlantic, much like Venice relied on the Adriatic. Our prioritization of aquatic enterprise, in turn, decided lifestyle preferences, making our Venice-like waterways even more integral to everyday life.

One striking difference today, however, is our ability to build vertically. Urban sprawl is at an all -time high and our city is answering this migration pattern with an incredible development boom that is ushering our city into a promising era. Whereas, Venice will remain locked and their expansion practically muted due to their status as a World Cultural Heritage Site.

Cultural Centers

During the early history of Venice, the city’s influence spread to Western Europe and the rest of the world, especially the Byzantine Empire and the Islamic World, via trade. What accompanied trade (accumulated through centuries of human interaction) was art and culture.

If all roads led to Rome, perhaps all waterways led back to Venice.

According to New World Encyclopedia, “During the 1700s, Venice had become perhaps the most elegant and refined city in Europe, greatly influencing art, architecture, and literature.” A map of the historical heart of Venice shows that many of their cultural centers line the water, signaling that their canal system was a magnet for these types of institutions.

This is the case in Fort Lauderdale as well. Though we are not responsible for influencing art and culture worldwide, we did take a playbook from Venice and situated our prized cultural centers along our most traveled waterways. Or perhaps our waterways inspired us to situate our most prized cultural centers along their banks…

At any rate, The Museum of Science and Discovery, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Huizenga Pavilion, the Sun Sentinel, The Riverwalk, and Las Olas Blvd are other cultural institutions and avenues are all situated in close proximity, if not directly along, the New River. This is no coincidence.

Fort Lauderdale The Venice of America

Transportation

In Venice, there are two primary ways of travel: on foot or by boat. The design of the city makes automotive transportation practically impossible. Cars are only able to navigate the outskirts of the city.

In Fort Lauderdale, most residents travel by car. This is the case in all of South Florida. However, unlike other coastal cities, we use aquatic travel more like our European counterparts. For instance, we travel by boat for leisure, sport, business and more; even some of us use the water as our primary means of transportation.

We also use water taxis and gondolas. It doesn’t get much more Venice than that! 

Additionally, our waterways promote pedestrian travel just as they do in Venice. Pedestrian travel is uncommon in South Florida. Main points of interest are spread out, making walking largely impractical. However, in areas where canals consolidate culture and social amenities, such as Las Olas Boulevard, Las Olas Isles, and the Riverwalk, more people walk. And this is now becoming the case in our entire downtown sphere, all of which is largely bordered by canals!

Conclusion

Our city has more in common with Venice than most people think.

We aren’t purely “The Venice of America” because we have over 300 hundred miles of canals. We share similar lifestyle characteristics and we use our canals in very similar ways.

Fort Lauderdale’s global influence is growing, just as Venice’s influence did in the 1700s. Our canals are host to the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, which attracts visitors from around the world for an opulent week of indulgence. We are one of America’s tourist capitals, hosting millions of visitors annually and shuttling them to far-off countries from the Port of Everglades. We are becoming a chief culinary destination in South Florida with world-class seafood selections. And we are injecting art and culture into the fabric of our society at a rapid pace, partly due to the amount of people emigrating to our city.

At this rate, life in Fort Lauderdale may become more Venice-like than the canals themselves.

Fort Lauderdale’s Sewage Situation

Fake News, Knee Jerk Reactions, Past Leadership Failures, and the Facts You Should Know about Fort Lauderdale’s Infrastructure

We are knee-deep in crap! And, no, we aren’t talking about the sewage spill in Rio Vista. We’re referring to the fake news and false information being spread as a result of the sewage break.

Anyone who claims that downtown development is responsible for our damaged and deteriorating sewage system is trying to fool you. They want you to believe that downtown development is the cause and that the solution is a development moratorium. Don’t buy into it! These people want you to place the blame on the progress our city is making when in truth, it’s been a 75-year problem in the making.

It amazes us to read comments in the newspaper by multi-term commissioner Aurelius, and a two-decade Mayor Naugle who claim that the pipes have been old and worn since the 1990s when they were in office, and also claim that it’s the fault of new downtown residential buildings, most of which didn’t even exist before 2014. The fact is, this problem should have been addressed during their tenure.

We can’t turn back the clock but we can move forward in a way that is both smart and effective. In order to do that, we need to keep the facts straight. There’s no reason to panic and make a rash decision that will reverse all of the progress we’ve made in recent years.

Below are the facts that no one is talking about:

Broward County Sewage Crisis

FAKE: The breaks are caused by the volume from Downtown Fort Lauderdale:

FACTS:

  1. We are a century-old city. This is a 75-year old problem in the making. This was caused by failure to maintain and replace by past city commissions. Our aging sewage infrastructure has been at risk for decades.
  2. For decades our city’s elected officials voted to keep property tax rates low and instead diverted tens of millions of dollars each year from our sewage system to the general fund.
  3. If the problem existed 30 years ago how could it be a side-effect of downtown development, of which the majority of new buildings didn’t even exist before 2014?
  4. Fort Lauderdale treats wastewater for the residents and businesses in Wilton Manors, Port Everglades, and parts of Oakland Park, Dania Beach, Davie and Tamarac, well over 180,000 residents and the many businesses in Fort Lauderdale.
  5. Since 2010, the new projects in Downtown have accounted for 2,480 new households vs 180,000 total customers.
  6. The average household size in Downtown is 1.77 vs. the rest of Fort Lauderdale at 2.37. So the rest of the city produces 25% more waste per household than Downtown, making compact vertical development a more efficient smart growth approach.
  7. Downtown residents account for less than 1.5% of the total volume of waste on our system. 
  8. Age and years of failure by prior city commissions to maintain and replace the sewer pipes caused the issue. For decades, our city’s elected officials have voted to keep property tax millage rates down. Basically, the reserves for replacement of our sewer system was essentially swapped out for lower tax bills.
  9. Major rain events have the greatest impact on wastewater capacity and sewer pipe integrity than new development does. Pipes are not cracking because more sewage is being pumped into them. They begin to fail when massive amounts of groundwater flows into existing cracks in the pipes. The City is improving 41 miles of sewer main lines by September 2020 to address rainwater infiltration.

SMART GROWTH FACTS:

As we move successfully forward past this immediate issue to future resiliency, climate change and sustainability issues, vertical growth is one of the smartest solutions. It’s a matter of consolidation versus sprawl.

  1. Within the streets of the city, the average apartment in a 200 unit apartment building accounts for 6 inches of sewer pipes per household, while the average single-family home accounts for 40 feet of sewer pipe. Almost 80 times more infrastructure per single family.
  2. 200 single family homes water 200 lawns. A vertical 200-unit apartment building waters one.
  3. 200 single family homes fill 200 pools. A vertical 200-unit apartment fills one.

With sea level rising, how many hundreds of billions of dollars will it cost to mitigate for low lying single-family homes? How many miles of sea walls will have to be raised? Pumps to move water? Vertical housing, raised streets, beach berms, sea walls… the world will look very different in the near future. Who will they blame for that? Compact vertical multi-family housing is forward thinking. It’s smart growth. It’s part of the big picture!

The Benefits of High-Rise Development in Fort Lauderdale

The Conclusion

Too often in crisis situations such as this the target is developers. And what does that mean?

A city-wide moratorium would affect more than just developers. It would impact everyday people trying to make a living for their families who work for local builders, architects, engineers, drywallers, electricians, plumbers, air conditioning installers, secretaries, administrators, estimators, managers, and on and on and on. These are real people who live locally and who could lose their jobs if local companies lose substantial or all of their business due to a stop in construction citywide. Is that really what we as a community want? Or should we focus on fixing the pipes as quickly and as effectively as possible, without wasting time on arguing over an unreasonable solution that doesn’t actually fix anything.

So, before you start pointing blame, taking sides, and making rash decisions, take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

  1. Our infrastructure problem exists
  2. There is only one viable solution
  3. It will cost our city approximately $1.4 billion over 20 years
  4. Downtown developments are paying more than 3 times their share of the problem through impact fees alone
  5. Downtown development accounts for less than 1.5% of total volume of wastewater

Don’t allow your outlook to be manipulated simply because you’re disgusted by the situation. We’re disgusted, too. But know that there is a sensible way of handling this situation and a development moratorium is not part of that solution.

We need to Go Big and Go Fast. Any discussions other than how we can fix the problem quickly and efficiently is a waste of time.

How And Where To Support Local Businesses on Black Friday

(And Still Get A Deal)

How And Where To Support Local Businesses on Black Friday

Did you know that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are not purely about the savings?

Sure, the deals are fantastic and definitely cause for shopping. But what if we told you there is a way you could get the deal and still support small, local businesses?

Supporting local during your holiday shopping extravaganza is a great way to stimulate our economy and prop up small businesses that make our community thrive. In a way, this will also add sentimental value to the presents you gift to friends and family since they come directly from the people in your hometown.

This Black Friday and Cyber Monday, consider taking your holiday shopping to these boutiques, vendors, and small businesses that are unique to Fort Lauderdale.

Komuso Design

How And Where To Support Local Businesses on Black Friday

This small, online business was started by two locals residing in the FATVillage arts district. Their journey to solve one of society’s most prevalent and distressing conditions led to the creation of their hallmark product, The Shift.

The Shift is a holistic tool that teaches users to harness the power of breathing to reduce stressful triggers and physical symptoms associated with stress and anxiety. It also doubles as a beautiful piece of jewelry. It’s like two gifts in one!

Komuso’s mission to improve the lives of those dealing with stress and anxiety has taken their brand worldwide, however, they still maintain their hometown spirit and love for Fort Lauderdale.

You can join their emailing list to receive discounts for your Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping, as well as some great tips for surviving the holiday season.

Acacia

Acacia is an eclectic boutique with a rich ambiance full of South African art and accessories, designer jewelry and unique home decor. They have been a staple in Fort Lauderdale going on ten years! The owner, Siegi Lindsay, is a South-African native and a welcoming presence to be around. She possesses a distinct, worldly style and loves sharing her passion for art with her patrons. In Acacia, every artifact has a story — one that Siegi will happily share with you. This Black Friday, Siegi is showcasing beautiful handmade treasures from around the world. Be sure to stop by and explore her shop in the Gateway Shopping Center. You never know what gems you will find there.

FATVillage Artwalk

How And Where To Support Local Businesses on Black Friday

The last art walk of 2019 is the Saturday after Black Friday. The event will be packed with local vendors selling original art, handmade goods, vintage clothing and more. There are so many options at art walk, you’re bound to find a perfect gift for someone special (yourself included). We’ve also heard buzz that C&I Studios is releasing a new clothing brand, so be sure to stop by the bar Next Door for the details!

If you know of any other local businesses offering Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals follow us on Facebook and comment on our timeline!