In a testament to Fort Lauderdale’s evolution into a world-class metropolis with an increasingly diverse economy and cultural impact, ULI Southeast Florida/Caribbean chapter and the Fort Lauderdale Downtown Development Authority hosted the first-ever “Fort Lauderdale Emerges: Development and Investment Forum” on March 21 at the NSU Art Museum.
The action-packed event featured several spirited conversations between the city’s public and private sector leaders.
ULI Southeast Florida Chair Greg West, Chief Development Officer of ZOM, and Fort Lauderdale Emerges program Chair Jim Ellis of Ellis Diversified opened the event with welcoming remarks to the sold-out crowd. Both explained the significance of a dedicated forum about the city’s growth and potential.
Colliers International Executive Managing Director, South Florida Ken Krasnow kicked off the first panel – “Positioned for Success: What’s Next for Fort Lauderdale” – with a presentation highlighting key metrics supporting the city’s elevated real estate and economic development position among major metropolitan areas. Fort Lauderdale DDA Executive Director Jenni Morejon, former Mayor Jack Seiler and Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance President and CEO Bob Swindell elaborated on Krasnow’s presentation with insights on how the city has successfully strengthened its core economic drivers while diversifying its economy to make it more attractive to businesses and residents.
The second discussion – “Setting the Stage for Growth” – covered a wide range of topics, from Fort Lauderdale’s expanding appeal with international condo buyers to affordable and workforce housing options and transit solutions. Moderated by The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale Senior Marketing Manager Melissa Milroy, the panel included thoughtful perspective from Hooper Construction President Alan Hooper, Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization Executive Director Greg Stuart and OneWorld Properties President and CEO Peggy Fucci.
In the “Game-Changing Projects Enhancing Downtown’s Skyline” panel, Sun Sentinel reporter David Lyons led a discussion with the developers behind some of the most impactful projects in the urban core. Property Markets Group Principal Ryan Shear addressed the company’s X Las Olas mixed-use development at the former Las Olas Riverfront site, Kolter Group Urban Division President Bob Vail detailed the 46-story 100 Las Olas condominium project that will be Fort Lauderdale’s tallest tower and Stiles CEO Ken Stiles discussed the numerous pending commercial and residential developments Stiles is bringing to the downtown area.
Education, arts and culture and Broward County’s robust marine industry were front and center during the final discussion, “Investing in Fort Lauderdale’s Future.” Prominent land-use attorney Courtney Crush moderated a panel that featured Nova Southeastern University President and CEO George Hanbury, Broward Center for the Performing Arts President and CEO Kelley Shanley and Marine Industries Association of South Florida President and CEO Phil Purcell.
New Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis closed the event with brief remarks, noting that Fort Lauderdale has found its voice and has much to look forward to.
ULI and the DDA plan to hold Fort Lauderdale forums annually, similar to the established annual symposiums in Miami and West Palm Beach that consistently attract hundreds of attendees and provide unparalleled programming and networking opportunities.