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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

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By John D'Angelo

Fort Lauderdale’s real estate market is directly influenced by the old adage of supply and demand – shrinking inventory and diminished quality is driving the price point up with an average increase of 17+% per square foot compared to the same period last year. This decrease in availability of high-end condominiums has become increasingly significant in the downtown Las Olas area.

The draw of Las Olas Boulevard is multifold.  A walkable lifestyle is a multi-generational attraction. While ocean front condos are always alluring, the charm of being steps away from a multitude of interesting shops, restaurants and cafes, art, culture and city nightlife supersedes beach life for many.

With this upswing in market conditions we are now seeing an upsurge in high-rise and low-rise developments – burgeoning new preconstruction projects are sparking a new downtown buzz.  The luxury market is on the development slate as well as a new direction in preconstruction projects that will expand high-rise apartment rentals.

The increase in condominium and apartment communities can’t help but positively impact the downtown economy. New upscale rentals will bring young professionals seeking a “live-work” lifestyle into the mix while contemporary condominium design trends will draw a diverse mix of seasonal and year-round residents and investors from many areas in the U.S. and internationally.

The construction kick-off is highlighted by two city projects at the heart of it all.  The $213 million LEED Silver Certified Broward County Courthouse expansion will pride itself with 20 stories and 741,000 sq ft of court rooms and office space. The project is essentially a city campus with a county office building, three court house buildings, a public plaza, an energy center, a 500-car parking garage and a 34,000 sq ft area reserved for future expansion.
The goal of the development is to create “timeless architecture.” As Eric Peek, AIA, senior associate with Heery International  (AECOM) explains it, “It’s not trendy, not contemporary, but a modern, clean precast glass building that will look good for a long time.”

Also underway is the $50 million Broward Center for the Arts upgrade with a planned 1,200 sq ft event pavilion, a 27,630 sq ft educational wing and a restaurant overlooking the Riverwalk. The project will reshape the spectator experience, provide a unique cultural retreat and offer a “new level of entertainment and education.”

Top on the list of preconstruction projects to watch for is the Paramount, an 18-story tower with 95 oceanfront luxury residences. This is a unique property featuring components that combine design with cutting-edge inventive technologies. In the mix will be concierge services offering everything from dining, nightlife and sports reservations, to travel and home services.

Conjointly on the radar are the stylish 15-floor tower Riva Condominiums (100 elegantly designed residences), Adagio on the Bay (where coastal meets modern – a floor-to-ceiling glass marvel), the Privage (residences from $2.5 million) and the much anticipated $250 million Marina Lofts (projecting 900 residential units and 19,200 sq ft of retail and restaurant space).

Rental developments on the horizon are the $36 million 26-story New River Yacht Club (248 units, 4,400 sq ft of retail and restaurant space) and the $68 million 18-story New River Village III (215 residences, 2,378 sq ft of retail and restaurant space).

Additionally in the works are mixed-use developments as well as the luxury Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach Residences.

This is an exciting new cycle for Fort Lauderdale with a significant collection of preconstruction projects now in the field of view.  As a leader of the pre-construction sales during the previous development surge I see a familiar trend and can foresee which projects will be more compelling and in the long term, provide the highest value and return on investment.

Posted at 11:19:18 AM
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