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Looking Ahead to the Next 100 Years

North Hollywood beach
[Photo: Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau]

The attributes that have defined greater Fort Lauderdale — beach, boats and brews, as well as education, culture, infrastructure and a thriving business community — undoubtedly will define its future.

Sustained growth, though, might take continued creativity and collaboration, says Stiles Corp. President Doug Eagon.

The western expanses have reached the Everglades. Developable land in the urban core is growing lean. Infill, more knockdowns, higher density might be needed for any new construction. Though new state and federal courthouses are planned, other projects will take creative thought. For the company that pioneered office parks throughout greater Fort Lauderdale, "We don't have that agility any more," he says. "Redevelopment will be a big key for the future of the county."

Still, to many executives, it's not the places but the people who make the difference. Asked to define the area in a word, CEO Colin Brown with JM Family says, "diverse."

"I don't want to dismiss the weather," says Brown, who traces his own family's arrival in America to the 1630s. "But there are so many people who have come to this country who are the first generation, who came here with the same pioneering desire to improve their own lives. To tap into that resource is unbelievable. It's fantastic to combine the physical attributes of a great place to live with that kind of diverse and dynamic environment."

Beneath the shadows of high-rise towers and beside the waters of the New River lies the Stranahan House. Around 1895, Ohio native Frank Stranahan oversaw the ferry crossing and overnight camp. Sparsely populated, the frontier town named for Major William Lauderdale who battled the Seminoles only years before watched as the Florida East Coast Railway arrived in 1896 — and opened the region to its future.

Today the Stranahan House is a national historic landmark that sits just off the tony Las Olas Boulevard.

And greater Fort Lauderdale is no longer an outpost. Or as Ronne with the Alliance says, "this is not a town. This is a city."

Jeff Zbar is a freelance business writer based in Coral Springs.