Friday, October 20, 2017
Community News & Information
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

Remarks exchanged at the Members’ Meeting of September 26th suggest an evolving phenomenon regarding the juxtaposition of differing social expectations among the seasoned and newer residents of Colee Hammock.  On the one hand, there are the 20 to 30-year residents who have worked tirelessly to preserve the quietude of the neighborhood against the encroachment of commercialization, particularly in the character of an emergent entertainment district.  On the other hand, there are the voices of the newer residents who have moved to the neighborhood to enjoy the perceived live-work-play, 24-7 opportunities which arise from a denser residential and economic environment.

This difference is, indeed, a reflection of what appears to be a conflict among the leadership of near-Downtown neighborhoods and the governmental leadership, which, in the face of substantial neighborhood opposition, recently approved a massive, mixed-use development consisting of 856 dwelling units, a marina and several thousand square feet of restaurant and commercial space.  City Manager, Lee Feldman’s, take on the approval of the Marina Lofts project, to be developed on the New River, between the FEC tracks on the east and southwest 5th Avenue on the west, across from the Historic District, is that the approval is totally consistent with the VISION for the City’s future, as expressed through the many charettes and community meetings held over the last few years.  Increased Density, according to the City Manager, is the key, without which there can be no support for the urban core envisioned for the live-work-play, 24-7 environment which the VISION portends.

Thus, what was anathema to the neighborhood fabric envisioned in the late 70’s, as the recognition and encouragement of HOA’s by the City Commission was the clarion call of the Rob Dressler era, now yields to new urbanism theories which eschew the need for new development to resolve its self-generated impacts of parking and pedestrian needs, in favor of notions such as if there is no parking available, there will be no cars, people will therefore, of necessity or desire, walk to and from destinations, creating economic opportunities along the way and eventually prosperity for all, all of which requires – no demands – a density only once spoken of aloud as a textbook theory.

This is a continuation of the grand experiment that is Fort Lauderdale, where tragedies connected with burgeoning growth, such as the June 1,1912, fire that wiped out the Downtown business district, led directly to the establishment of an organized fire department.  As much as things change, they remain the same: circa 1978, there was a community meeting of civic leadership, the focus of which was by what means could people be convinced to get out of their cars and walk the streets of the Downtown.  Representatives from all facets of the community were engaged: developers, contractors, civic leaders, politicians, university professors, FDOT representatives and various traffic planners.  The ANSWER: GRIDLOCK.  As the fellow from FDOT put it, at the time: the best way to get people out of their cars and walking on the streets, at least in South Florida, is to create GRIDLOCK.  Give them no choice; it will only be when driving the car becomes so inconvenient, that people will take to walking to and from.  Some 20 years later, a similar meeting was convened at the Downtown FAU campus; the question was the same.  Not unremarkably, most of those in attendance were the same people.  The ANSWER: GRIDLOCK!  This solution is synonymous with DENSITY

Today, we seek the same live-work-pay, 24-7 VISION.  As a couple of the attendees at the September 26th meeting observed in connection with remarks about encroaching commercialization east of the Himmarshee: the raision detre for moving to Colee Hammock is the opportunity to leave one’s townhouse and walk to and from the dining, shopping and entertainment venues along Las Olas.  It can all be accommodated.  The emergent dynamic can result in improvements and benefits for all, if and only if, we join together to create transitional opportunities which appreciate, support and sustain the quietude of the neighborhood, while paying heed to the legitimate expectations of the new urbanistas.