Hollywood’s Downtown On Verge Of Building Boom

Written by on September 10, 2014 in Uncategorized - No comments

For more than a decade, Hollywood has courted development, aiming to revitalize its downtown. After a stubborn recession and a long wait, downtown Hollywood is finally on the verge of a building boom.

Old buildings long past their prime are slowly giving way to more cosmopolitan buildings.

In August, a 12-story apartment building that occupied the northeast corner of Young Circle for the past 36 years was reduced to rubble. In its place will rise a 25-story apartment tower. The aging Great Southern Hotel on the west side of the circle will soon be replaced by a 19-story apartment tower.

Plans are also in the works to revamp the Hollywood Bread Building on the circle’s south side, and possibly the Publix plaza on the east side, officials say.

“Someone might leave Hollywood for a few years and come back and not know where they are,” Commissioner Dick Blattner said, only half-joking. “They’d think, ‘This is not the Hollywood I left five years ago.’ That would be a good thing.”

The redevelopment is all about the timing, says Jack McCabe, a real estate analyst in Deerfield Beach.

Hollywood officials have watched as developers have flocked to places such as Fort Lauderdale, Delray Beach and downtown Miami. And now it seems to be Hollywood’s turn.

Since 2012, developers have announced plans for 237 new condo projects and 68 major apartment complexes in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties, McCabe said.

“Developers are once again very positive about the future of real estate in South Florida,” McCabe said. “Many believe the current boom is going to continue for a number of years. Hollywood, in particular, is very ripe for redevelopment. There were a lot of grand plans last decade that had to get shelved because of the recession. Those projects are coming back.”

Some developers are intent on launching their projects sooner rather than later, taking a cue from the painful lesson learned during the last recession, McCabe said. Many projects completed in South Florida after the start of the last downturn were failures, he noted.

Still, Commissioner Patty Asseff and others hold out hope that if you build it, the crowds will come.

“Not everyone can live on Brickell in downtown Miami,” Asseff said. “We’re trying to make it a meeting place for all the people.”

On Aug. 2, Hollywood bid farewell to the drab Town House Apartment tower on the northeast side of Young Circle.

The building’s demolition was a key piece of the puzzle to get things moving in downtown Hollywood, says Jorge Camejo, executive director of the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency.

“It’s such a strong indicator of the change that’s coming around Young Circle,” Camejo said. “The new projects will bring an entirely new inventory downtown. We need critical mass around Young Circle, and these projects will absolutely create that.”

A new 25-story high-rise dubbed Hollywood Circle will rise in its place, courtesy of developer Chip Abele. The $160 million project will include 397 luxury apartments, a boutique hotel, shops, offices and a supermarket.

That project should be completed in 2016.

Next in line for the wrecking ball is the Great Southern Hotel on the west side of Young Circle.

Young Circle Commons, an $80 million mixed-use development, will rise where the landmark hotel now stands. When it opens sometime next year, it will be home to 229 apartments with shops and offices lining the ground floor.

Abele, the developer on that project as well, has agreed to save the façade of the historic Great Southern Hotel, built in 1924 by Hollywood founder Joseph W. Young.

Asseff thinks Abele’s projects will pave the way for more projects downtown, both big and small.

“We are getting rid of the eyesores,” said Asseff, a real estate agent. “We have a great downtown. It just needs the foot traffic. You need to create an area where people want to congregate and be seen. This is a move in the right direction.”

Soon enough, more towers will join the Radius, a 15-story condo that opened in 2007. The $90 million project came with 311 condos and ground-floor shops aimed at bringing more people to Young Circle’s northwest side.

Abele hoped to break ground on the Great Southern project well before Radius opened. With great expectations, he bought the landmark parcel in 2001.

The much-anticipated groundbreaking was a long time coming, stalled for more than a decade by three things, Abele says: legal challenges, immense political pressure on City Hall to help save the Great Southern and, eventually, a crumbling economy.

Now, things are finally getting underway.

“We are starting to have a sigh of relief here,” Abele said. “It’s been a tortuous process. We certainly hope and expect that this will be a renaissance for downtown Hollywood.”

Change also may be coming for the landmark Hollywood Bread Building, on the south side of Young Circle.

Owner MG3 is in talks with architects to revamp the building in a few years. The seven-story parking garage might be transformed into a garage topped by residential floors.

“Instead of looking to knock it down, we’re looking at how to preserve the structure and build around it and mask it into another design,” said Keith Poliakoff, attorney for Hollywood-based MG3 Development Group. “The goal in the future is to mask the bread building so you will never recognize it. By renovating, rehabbing and creating new buildings in downtown Hollywood, it will create a brand new vision for the entire area.”

The gentrification wave may make its way to the eastern side of Young Circle as well. That section is home to a well-trafficked Publix shopping plaza.

But if plans are in the works, owner Equity One isn’t saying.

Mark Langer, the company’s chief financial officer, declined to comment at this time.

Camejo holds out hope.

“Any time you have this level of investment it creates a positive catalyst for other things to happen,” he said. “Smaller investors are waiting in the wings. It’s a very positive step for downtown.”

But with all the construction and moving and shaking comes growing pains.

Hollywood’s downtown may get a bit dusty, but it will be worth it in the end, Asseff said.

“We have to look at how it’s going to benefit everyone,” she said. “We have to have the long-term vision of what the millennials want. They’re the next generation of people who will come here.”

Terry Cantrell, president of the Hollywood Lakes Civic Association, says he’s in favor of development — as long as it’s not too big, too high or too dense.

“We felt the new Town House project had too much density and would create traffic problems for the Lakes neighborhood,” Cantrell said. “We’re going to have a project there that’s too tall and will create a concrete canyon around the ArtsPark. It’s going to look like downtown Miami.”

Rita Gambardella, a Hollywood resident and real estate agent, likes the idea of bustling new projects rising up around Young Circle and beyond.

“I think it’s a very good thing,” she said. “It will offset a lot of the crime and the blight.”

As for the critics, she chalks it up to fear of change.

“They don’t want to let go of the small-town village feeling,” she said. “This scares the heck out of them. But it has to progress. If it stays like the way it is, it’s going to continue to decline.”

The coming transformation is long overdue, some say.

“We’re ready for it,” Commissioner Peter Hernandez said. “I think we’re looking for the development that never came. And it’s finally here.”


Source:  SunSentinel

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