Growing up in the westerly suburbs of Fort Lauderdale, I learned to accept that much of my adolescent and young adult life would be flat: low, flat stretches of land covered in Malvina Reynolds' "little boxes" that all look just the same; strip mall plazas filled with chain restaurants and fast-food joints; sprawling shopping malls taking up several square miles of space; and the thousands of middle-class families inhabiting the bland, homogenized, carved out wetlands of Greater Fort Lauderdale.
If I ever wanted to take in a breathtaking skyline, get drunk off the buzzing energy of a busy sidewalk, or challenge myself to explore all the people, food, and culture of a city, I'd have to escape North. At the very least, I could head east on 595 and see what might be bubbling "downtown."
It's about time Fort Lauderdale recognizes its potential for greatness. There's so much about the city that already makes it a fantastic place to live: loads of waterfront property and easy ocean access, open spaces and lush greenery, eclectic businesses and nightlife, and of course the weather. What it lacks is bold vision and the raw, creative energy that typically comes when thriving young professionals congregate and set their minds toward similar goals.
Despite resistance, Fort Lauderdale is changing. An influx of innovative and out-of-the box businesses are spreading south and across the city from the downtown core, public transit is expanding, our art museum's got a new, high-profile director, and a renewed interest in the area has developers teaming up with world-class architects to bring a whole new level of international attention to our own little Venice.
Developer Asi Cymbal's latest project, the Marina Lofts on the New River, has been the subject of controversy ever since renderings of Danish "starchitecht" Bjarke Ingels' striking, three-tower design were released and plans to relocate a 100-year-old tree on the lot were announced. Last week, New Times published a piece on "Five Reasons Why the Marina Lofts Should be Nixed." And while it made valid points, in lieu of last week's decision by the city commissioners to move forward with the project, I'd like to propose an alternate perspective to some of the comments being made by critics of the Marina Lofts.