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International Investors Buy Up a Swath of Fort Lauderdale Beach

Ever wish there were more establishments on Fort Lauderdale beach than just swanky resorts, cut-rate motels, and those shops that sell "FBI: Female Body Inspector" shirts and mysteriously manage to stay in business?

Two international hedge-fund managers are here to help. As Scott Wyman at the SS reports, Swedish investor Par Sanda has been buying up struggling old hotels on the barrier island between Bayshore Drive and the Bonnet House.

Michael Wekerle, a Canadian, has been acquiring neglected properties around Sunrise Lane, near where the old Holiday Inn was recently reopened as the B Ocean Hotel.

Sanda's associate, hotelier Richard Gray, says the investor wants the Fort Lauderdale
beach to be more like South Beach, with a mix of boutique resorts with small shops and restaurants. He described another one of Sanda's recent ventures: to combine the Royal Palms gay resort with two other hotels to create a chic, sprawling gay hotel.

City Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom, whose district includes parts of the beach area, said she had met with Wekerle and his lawyer and believes he wants to turn the Escape Hotel, a historic midcentury building, into another upscale resort.

Parrot Lounge owner Tim Schiavone told the paper that he was supportive of new diversity in the neighborhood. Don't despair -- it's unlikely that even the superwealthy will be able to completely scrub the beach's beer-soaked element of grunge. Let's hope Mickey Clean has a place amid all the boutiques and resorts.

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Stefan Kamph
Contact: Stefan Kamph

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