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Evolving: Fort Lauderdale's beach strip is remade again

Some 30 years ago, investor, restaurateur and bar owner A.J. Yaari bought into Fort Lauderdale beach. He’s seen the long-running evolution of the beach from host of drunken spring break revelry to home of a W and a Ritz-Carlton.

“Ten years ago, they said Fort Lauderdale is the future,” Yaari says. “Now I can say, especially after the activity in the last few months, I can say the future is here, and we’re ready to go.”

At A1A and Las Olas, contractor Skanska started work this summer on a 670-space parking deck, part of a project to replace an oceanfront parking lot with a park, build an Intracoastal promenade and make the area friendlier to bicyclists and pedestrians. Investor Thor Equities is renovating The Gallery at Beach Place into a lifestyle center.

Farther north, developer Par Sanda has invested more than $100 million in buying and renovating more than 40 buildings to create a beach village. Farther south, Orlando’s Tavistock spent $165 million to buy the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 hotel and marina and plans a renovation, while Miami developer Jimmy Tate wants to upgrade the Bahia Mar.

Yaari himself has his seven eateries and has been assembling land. He recently sold a block south of Las Olas to a New York developer who plans a 213-room hotel.

His biggest bet, though, has been assembling 4.5 acres at Las Olas and A1A where he envisions a fivetower, 1.5-million-sq.-ft. development. “It’s not going to happen the day after tomorrow. It’s going to be carefully planned and carefully created, and we can try to satisfy everybody,” Yaari says. “I want to create something that will not be a concrete canyon. It’s going to be the future of Fort Lauderdale. I want to create a legacy.”


  • Taxpayer-supported Broward Health appointed Alan Goldsmith, formerly of Jackson North Medical Center in North Miami Beach, as CFO and Gino Santorio, senior vice president and CEO of Jackson North, as COO.
  • The Economic Council of Palm Beach County hired Michael DeBock, NextEra Energy executive director of gas infrastructure, as its president and CEO.

Business Briefs

CORAL SPRINGS — Xceed Preparatory Academy, a network of academic coaches for college-bound middle and high school students, opened in Coral Springs and Dadeland in Miami-Dade.

DELRAY BEACH — Columbus, Ohio-based Edwards Cos. began leasing for Atlantic Crossing, a $250-million, nineacre, mixed-use project in east downtown Delray that spent eight years in the approval process. The first phase, opening next year, will have 76,000 square feet of retail and 86,000 square feet of office space.

Palm Beach County commissioners approved 13th Floor Homes’ plan to redevelop the former Marina Lakes golf course into Avalon Trails, an age-restricted community of 521 homes.

FORT LAUDERDALE — Developer Ocean Land Investments completed its 20-residence AquaMar Las Olas condo. The city hired Colliers International South Florida to manage real estate assets and sell surplus sites, including a 24-acre Dania Beach industrial site.

Turkey-based Sirena Marine opened the U.S. sales headquarters of Sirena Yachts. The boats start at 56 feet.

FORT PIERCE — Orlandobased luxury movie chain Touchstar Cinemas opened its Sabal Palms 6 theater at the renovated site of the old Nova Cinemas theater.

OAKLAND PARK — Nonprofit Better Building Communities opened Oakland Preserve, an 80-unit affordable housing development with rents from $784 to $1,085 per month for one-, two- and threebedroom apartments.

SUNRISE — Physician employer and provider Mednax acquired Miamibased, 70-physician Radiology Associates of South Florida and five-office Palm Beach Pediatric Urology. The acquisitions bring Mednax’s total to nine this year.

Eight-year-old Sawgrass Mutual Insurance, under an agreement with the state Office of Insurance Regulation, wound down operations. It had about 20,000 policies.

WEST PALM BEACH — Florida East Coast Industries and Lincoln Property topped off Park-Line Palm Beaches, their 290-unit apartment tower opening next year near FECI’s Brightline train station.

WESTON — The Levitetz Family Foundation and Purity Grocery Wholesalers founder Jeff Levitetz donated $2 million to Cleveland Clinic Florida’s orthopedic surgery department


Developer Terry Stiles, 70

Fort Lauderdale filled the Performing Arts Center during a memorial for the builder of its skyline, Terry Stiles. Stiles created more than 43 million square feet of office, commercial, apartment and business park projects in Florida and the southeast U.S. His accomplishments were recalled, including how he quietly instituted a $15-per-hour minimum wage for employees. Stiles President Doug Eagon recalled Stiles saying to him at a company picnic one year, “How’s it feel to be responsible for all these families?”

Stiles told FLORIDA TREND in 2016: “This is one of the few occupations that when you’re done, at the end of the day you can look back, I had something to do with that.”

Stiles died Sept. 11 at age 70 of complications from esophageal cancer.


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