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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 ashish.desai@gsa.gov.

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!

3 Ways To Give Back To Your Community

3 Ways To Give Back To Your Community For Thanksgiving

What does community mean to you?

Are we merely a group of people living in the same place and sharing likeminded characteristics and beliefs? Or are we a group of people who care for one another; who want to aid in improving the health of our county and those who call it home?

We believe that the Fort Lauderdale community is the latter.

We are one of the few cities where passersby greet one another cheerfully and where those who are fortunate go above and beyond to help those in need. Our capacity for giving is a hallmark of life in Fort Lauderdale. It has been for a long time.

To properly conclude 2019, we are giving thanks to our community by sharing 3 ways to give back to others.

1. Family Volunteer Opportunities

3 Ways To Give Back To Your Community For Thanksgiving
3 Ways To Give Back To Your Community For Thanksgiving

Doing good for others as a family is a great way to educate our children on the global good that volunteering does. It’s also a fulfilling way to spend time during the holidays and instill strong values in the next generation.

HandOn Broward

HandsOn Broward mobilizes people to help them make effective change in Broward County. Their mission is to transform communities by teaching socially responsible ethics and providing locals hands-on opportunities to make positive impact.

HandsOn Broward plays a part in widespread outreach initiatives such as Habitat for Humanity and also provides locals very specific volunteer opportunities, such as Feeding the Hungry at Jubilee Center. Their volunteer calendar is a great source for those who want to give back to their community this holiday season. If that’s your family, check out these upcoming volunteer opportunities!

2. Food Bank and Clothing Drives

3 Ways To Give Back To Your Community For Thanksgiving
3 Ways To Give Back To Your Community For Thanksgiving

Fort Lauderdale is a thriving community with a strong economy. Many of us live comfortable lifestyles and have the capacity to share our good fortune with others. If you do not have the time to volunteer this holiday season, then consider donating to a food bank or joining a clothing drive.

Holiday feasts are in full swing and many of us are already prepping for the occasion. During your next visit to the market, consider purchasing additional canned goods and non-perishables to donate for someone in need. Broward.org hosts a Holiday Food Drive this time of year and offers multiple locations throughout Fort Lauderdale and Broward County for you to donate. You can view all of the collection box locations near you, here.

In addition to donating food, donating your unwanted (or new!) clothing is also a generous way of giving back. Aside from traditional clothing drop locations, such as Salvation Army, there is a very convenient drop box in Victoria Park. All you have to do is package your unwanted or new clothing in plastic bags and visit the dropbox on NE 9th Avenue on the west side of Virginia Shuman Young Elementary School.

3. Charitable Giving

3 Ways To Give Back To Your Community For Thanksgiving

Every day our community faces issues that matter. These extend far beyond volunteering and donating. This holiday season, you can benefit worthy causes with a small charitable donation.

Community Foundation of Broward connects donors with causes that foster positive growth for future generations to thrive. If you have a cause that you would like to donate to, they will put you in touch with the foundation or organization where your charitable giving will have the greatest impact.

There is nothing too big or too small that your contributions will not benefit. Whether it be animal welfare, arts in the community, or ecosystem defense, your involvement will create positive ripples through Fort Lauderdale and Broward County.

If you know of any other volunteer or donation opportunities in Broward County, we’d love for you to share your insights! Follow us on Facebook and comment on our timeline with your favorite ways of giving back! When our community is joined under a common cause, we are capable of doing incredible things.

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

[According to the locals]

We’ve checked the online reviews, listened to the word of mouth recommendations, and respected the social media shoutouts. According to the locals, these are the best bars, restaurants, and cultural centers in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

DINNER

1. YOLO

The best bars and restaurants in downtown fort lauderdale

YOLO is a long-loved staple in Fort Lauderdale, offering a new-age, American style dining experience. It is a foodie’s paradise and socialites playground, infamous for happy hours, Sunday brunch, a welcoming courtyard lounge with an open fire pit, and an outdoor garden patio.

“YOLO is a super fun place to go for Lunch, Dinner, After-work Drinks, on a date, or with a group of friends or family. With plenty of outdoor space, and usually live music, and indoor space under air conditioning, YOLO suits parties large and small. I’ve been there several times for happy hour and dinner, and enjoy the place as a favorite Las Olas destination.” — 5 Star Review on TripAdvisor

2. Louie Bossi’s

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

Louie Bossi’s is Las Olas’s Italian stunner. You won’t find a more diverse selection of fine Italian recipes any place else in the area. They make all their pasta in-house and put modern spins on traditional dishes. They have an incredible 900-degree brick oven for Neapolitan pies, serve high-end charcuterie boards and have a fantastic selection of wines to pair with dinner.

“Consistently good food – stays authentic and true to itself, keeping true Italian roots with its approach to food and the menu. You won’t find many places with polenta as a side, wont find many places that do a carbonara sauce – just two examples. The back patio is enchanting especially when lit up at night. Will keep going as often as I can. Really love it and have never had anything but a good experience.” — 5 Star Review on OpenTable

3. El Camino

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

El Camino has quickly risen in the ranks as Las Olas’s favorite Mexican eatery. The food is delicious and authentic, but what really stands out is their unmatched happy hours! Every day from 4-7 PM they serve up $2 tacos, $8 tequila flights, and handcrafted margaritas for only $5. They also feature a late-night happy hour for the night owls who aren’t ready to end the festivities.

“Excellent food, best guac and pico de gallo ever! Wait time was 1.5 hr, but totally worth it…also my niece lost 20$ in there and we went back later and they found it and returned it. Honest people, great food, I recommend the Chile steak fajitas.” — 5 Star Review on Facebook

4. Bombay Darbar

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

Bombay Darbar features authentic, gourmet Indian Cuisine. Their kitchen uses the very best and freshest ingredients in the making of their near-perfect recipes. Their exotic, upscale decor and phenomenal service and management elevate Bombay Darbar above most restaurants in South Florida.

“I can’t believe I haven’t reviewed this place sooner. This is my all time favorite Indian restaurant. The food is so rich and authentic, it is the best in town, without a doubt. I used to frequent this place every Thursday after class as a way to de-stress. Each time I go I receive the best service and my meal is always so painfully good. No really it hurts, I leave there so full! But satisfied, very satisfied.” — 5 Star Review on Yelp

5. Temple Street Eatery

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

Temple Street Eatery is an urban, counter-serve Asian fusion restaurant with mastery in dumplings and ramen. Their recipes are bright and uplifting, crafted to enlighten your palate. Trust us, once you visit you’ll be coming back for more. Besides, there is a lot to be said about a restaurant with a 4.5 star average on Google with over 700 reviews.

“1st time here and very impressed! The wings were flavorful! The pork dumplings were steamed and excellent but the wonton ramen was superb! The broth was very good and bok choy was spot on. Shrimp wonton was perfect! I highly recommend it! Next time I am going for pork belly ramen🍜” — 5 Star Review on Google

BARS & BREWERIES

6. WLO Rooftop

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

WLO Rooftop is a stellar rooftop bar in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale. Their expert bartenders specialize in concocting craft cocktails with premium spirits. But their true majesty of this urban locale is the stunning city-wide views and pleasantly natural aesthetic of their lounge area.

“Great place. Bartenders were friendly and service was fast. Views were awesome. Weather was good so we enjoyed the rooftop 100%. Good vibe and good music. I can’t wait to go back. Entrance was a little hard to find. but the security guard came out and guided us in. Definitely recommend for those looking for a good vibe with great views.” — 5 Star Review on Google

7. Tarpon River Brewing

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

Tarpon River Brewery is a family-friendly neighborhood favorite. Their rotating draft selection of craft beers is reason enough to come back time and again. They have a full food menu with a killer IPA Mac N Cheese Burger and host live music weekly.

“This place is popular enough without my review chiming in, but I really loved my first visit! This is definitely a great spot to bring friends from out of town for a drink. It really showcases the Florida vibe, with a great selection of beers.” — 5 Star Review on Yelp

8. Township

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

Township is a German-style pub and sports bar. It is the only bar in Fort Lauderdale serving full litres of beer! They offer a full food menu of German classics, like pretzels and cheese curds. This place is always active on the weekend, especially Saturdays. Locally, it is known as a Florida State University gameday hangout but is a welcoming place for all sports fans.

“I think township is my new favorite go to bar. I came here for the first time last weekend and had a blast on Saturday. Jordan is an awesome bartender, we didn’t have to wait long to order and it was a great crowd and vibe! My friends come here often for ladies night and I’ve been wanting to. Tonight is my First Ladies night and the bartenders have been awesome.” — 5 Star Review on Yelp

CULTURAL AMENITIES

9. NSU Art Museum

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

The NSU Art Museum is a centerpiece for arts and culture in Fort Lauderdale. Founded in 1958, the art museum has continually perpetuated artistic expression in South Florida.  There are ample exhibits to explore, a large auditorium for live art, educational courses for all, and a cafe to enjoy relaxing moments.

“Great way to spend a couple of hours while in Fort Lauderdale. Our docent was informative and wonderful in every way. She shared her knowledge and engaged us through the entire tour. Lunch at the museum was perfect as well.” — 5 Star Review on Facebook

10. The Broward Center for the Performing Arts

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

The Broward Center for the Performing Arts is the most expansive cultural institution in the area. It attracts Broadway shows from around the globe and remains a pivotal driver for the arts in the Fort Lauderdale community. Situated along the Riverwalk — a beautiful stretch along the downtown Intercostal waterways, the Broward Center is a fantastic place to visit whether you are attending a show or just enjoying the weather.

“Awesome place for a night out. Easily accessible parking and many restaurants to choose from help make this a great date night location. Today’s show prices make it a pricey night out that we can’t partake in as often as we would prefer but that is fairly typical everywhere. Great acoustics, classy and clean. Well worth the price of admission.” — 5 Star Review on Google

There you have it!

If you’re new to Fort Lauderdale or just visiting, set aside time to visit one (or all) of these great local establishments. We’d love to hear about your experience so drop us a line some time. Happy exploring!

Fort Lauderdale Mythbusters

We’ve been listening to complaints regarding high-rise development, which have been addressed to our downtown civic association and couldn’t help but set the record straight. If you still think development is a “dirty word” then perhaps you’re getting your information from the wrong source.

Traffic congestion, wind tunnels, shading…

One of these pain points is purely fabrication, another over-emphasized, and the third is why developers are building downtown vertically.

Watch the videos below to get the facts.