The future of transportation
Premium content from South Florida Business Journal by Kevin Gale, Editor in Chief
Date: Friday, September 14, 2012, 6:00am EDT
Editor in Chief- South Florida Business Journal
All Aboard Florida could offer an opportunity to resurrect a creative plan for a gateway to downtown Fort Lauderdale.
The question is whether businesses and government leaders will find the creativity and financing to make it happen.
Planning could hinge on whether Florida East Coast Industries’ high-speed passenger service from Miami to Orlando will have a modest station in Fort Lauderdale, or be part of bigger plans that have been dormant. In Miami, FECI is planning a 9-acre, mixed-use concept with a station near the Stephen P. Clark Government Center.
In 2004, Miami-based Zyscovich Architects unveiled detailed concepts for redevelopment of downtown Fort Lauderdale near Broward Boulevard. The plan was visionary because it anticipated an intermodal hub with passenger rail returning to FECI’s Florida East Coast Railway and a trolley system.
Twelve years later, FECI officials are confident in their ability to make All Aboard happen, the 2.7-mile Wave trolley service has received an $18 million federal grant and the South Florida Regional Transit Authority wants to add commuter service to the All Aboard route along the FEC Railway.
Zyscovich offered three scopes for potential projects, with the most ambitious involving up to nine buildings at a cost of $826 million and including new government buildings, more green space, a central transit hub, condos, apartments, offices and retail. A landscaped elliptical median would transform Broward Boulevard just east of the railroad tracks into a dramatic gateway.
“The city and county wanted, at the time, to generate some facilities that were better suited to their efficiencies,” President and Managing Partner Bernard Zyscovich said.
The governmental center was formerly a Burdines, and City Hall is relatively small for a city of Fort Lauderdale’s size.
The other part of the plan was to create a more signature entry to downtown.
“There is no sense of arrival,” Zyscovich said.
On Broward Boulevard, visitors are currently greeted by an open-air bus terminal on the north side and the county’s parking garage on the south side.
Zyscovich’s plans withered away in 2004 amid anti-development sentiment, but there’s a better argument for development now that the transit infrastructure is poised to happen.
Even a modest intermodal hub near Broward Boulevard would mean a short walk to downtown office buildings and the arts and entertainment district along Southwest Second Street.
Fort Lauderdale’s transportation and mobility department is leading an inter-governmental agency partnership about developing Broward Boulevard as a gateway, said Matt Little, the city’s public information officer.
All Aboard hasn’t proposed a specific site, he said, but the city is ready to coordinate with other governmental agencies. The city is also looking at using some of its property to house a maintenance and storage facility for the Wave streetcars.
All Aboard officials are aware of his past study, but haven’t been taken through it in detail, Zyscovich said. “I think we are quickly getting to that.”
Kevin Gale is editor in chief of the South Florida Business Journal