Best Candidate for Urban Renewal Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach 2005 - Downtown Dania Beach
The two-mile drive west from A1A along Dania Beach Boulevard -- mostly between two towering rows of unbroken treeline, with nary a strip mall in sight -- is one of the more relaxing in Broward County. Then, just past the jai-alai fronton, you encounter Federal Highway, Dania's boon and bane. By far the most visible strip in the town, the stretch of Federal between the town's northern border and Sterling Road is regularly plugged with traffic. Why? Well, there's the nearby airport, Interstate 595, a dead end on A1A, and a lack of roadways connecting Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale. It's a glut of humans and cars -- yet storefronts up and down the strip are shuttered or in mild disrepair. Why? For starters, the buildings are pressed this close to the highway, and a great many of the businesses are dives, antiques shops, and the like. The city has offered money for business improvement loans in the downtown corridor, and the expected windfall of slot machines at Dania Jai-Alai will no doubt alter the landscape. But some new pink paint and gambling traffic aren't going to fix the infrastructure problems of Broward's oldest, funkiest town. Money must be invested, buildings redesigned to accommodate pedestrian traffic, and other things as fun as Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlor and Restaurant opened. Otherwise, Dania Beach will remain an eyesore suffering in what ought to be a providential location.