ULI Southeast Florida/Caribbean News

Transit-Oriented Development: ULI Hosts Fort Lauderdale Mayor, Industry Leaders for Discussion on South Florida’s Future

Real Estate Players Convene at New Brightline Station for Solution-Focused Conversation

By Eric Kalis
May 10, 2018

ULI’s Southeast Florida/Caribbean chapter and its Young Leaders of Broward County gathered some of the most influential public and private sector leaders in Transit-Oriented Development to discuss the region’s progress in creating mixed-use destinations around key transit corridors. The group also outlined the steps needed to accommodate the constantly growing population and solve congestion problems on Thursday, May 10 on the ground floor of Fort Lauderdale’s new Brightline station.

Introduced by Becker attorney and Young Leaders of Broward County Co-Chair Jeremy Shir, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis kicked off the event with opening remarks. Trantalis touted Transit-Oriented Development as a pivotal way to balance growth with maintaining quality of life and noted the city has a significant amount of downtown land near the Brightline station that is ripe for development through private-public partnerships.

A panel discussion followed with Fort Lauderdale Principal Planner Jim Hetzel serving as moderator. Blanca Commercial Real Estate Managing Director and Vice Chairman John Guitar, Arthur J. Gallagher Area President Zeb Holt, FATVillage Founder and Developer Doug McCraw and The Traina Companies Principal & COO Joseph Traina, Jr. comprised the panel.

Highlights from the panel included:

  • Holt provided first-person insight on the correlation between access to transit and attracting talent, as Gallagher has 350 employees in the region and is facing major office space decisions in the year ahead
  • McCraw joked about how he was called “crazy” after assembling the future FATVillage site during the late 1990s and initially revealing his redevelopment plans for the former warehouse district. He also mentioned possible plans for a second phase of FATVillage
  • Guitar detailed how the successful office pre-leasing at Miami Central offers a case study to replicate at the Fort Lauderdale station
  • Traina advocated for the creation of “connectivity” and “a sense of place” in the downtown core
  • Hetzel noted that the city is in the midst of updating its Downtown Master Plan – originally created in 2004 – to improve mobility, connectivity and safety

HFF and law firm Becker, real estate firm Blanca Commercial Real Estate, and insurance and risk management firm Gallagher sponsored the event.

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