Oakland Park prepares for new City Hall, downtown
Comparable with Coral Springs, which built a new City Hall to kickstart an area envisioned to soar with mixed-use retail and rental apartments, Oakland Park is in talks with a developer to sell land to make it happen here, too.
City Manager David Hebert said the city is still negotiating with developer Integra Investments of Miami on the $2.55 million land deal. Once the papers are signed, it would mark the beginning of a $30 million to $50 million redevelopment project on 2 acres of vacant land along North Dixie Highway, west of the railroad tracks, at 38th Street/Park Lane East.
The project, dubbed Oakland Park Square, would include two buildings, one at five stories and the other at six stories, Hebert said. The ground floors in each building would include retail shops. The larger building would house the City Hall chamber for public meetings on the ground floor, and new City Hall office space in the floor above. The building would also have 343 parking spaces and 11 rental apartments. The smaller building would be an 87-unit rental apartment building.
Between the two buildings, it would mean nearly 35,000 square feet of retail space — the first new construction for shopping anywhere in the designated downtown and anywhere in the city “in recent memory,” Hebert said. “Everything has been renovated, rehabbed. This is going to establish a new standard for our downtown.”
The project is a “stone’s throw” across the street and north from the old City Hall, a 1963 building originally built for police and fire departments. An addition was constructed in 1969, and it was renovated and expanded in 1991.
Hebert admits the plan is in an “untested market.” Still, he has faith that Oakland Park is on the cusp of being a destination.
“We used to be a sleepy, quiet place that people drive through to get to the beach, but the reality is you can have a valuable space in Oakland Park that is affordable that is … miles from the beach and downtown Fort Lauderdale,” Hebert said. “How can you beat that?”
The city’s Community Redevelopment Agency is conducting a public discussion at 8 am. July 10 at Jaco Pastorius Park Community Center, 1098 NE 40th Court.
A thriving downtown has been a work in progress. The city had previously demolished dilapidated buildings to form a 150-acre downtown north of Oakland Park Boulevard, bordering both sides of Dixie Highway. Townhome communities have been constructed. A plaza with fountain features that links a park to Main Street has sprouted.
Voters in November will be asked to decide whether to pass a $40 million bond to renovate or rebuild city buildings. It could potentially mean the demolition of the current City Hall to a developer. “It’s feasible … we could look at developing this entire site. This development,” he said, of Oakland Park Square, “opens up opportunity for the city.”
“I think it’s going to be a transformative project. I think it’s going to create a truly dynamic opportunity to achieve the goals of this city,” he said. “We’re not overbuilding. We’re not looking at creation of canyon development some cities to the south may have created. We want space. We want a sense of community and openness. We care about tree canopy. But, yes, these units are going to be very marketable to a millennial or downsizing individual or couple who are looking for a place with a more urban feel.”