By Susannah Bryan
Fort Lauderdale may be the Godzilla of development in Broward County, but boomtown wannabes Hollywood and neighboring Dania Beach are hoping to give it a run for its money.
Both cities say their proximity to the coast, major highways, the airport and port are big draws. They also say they have more of what Fort Lauderdale doesn’t: Vacant land and timeworn properties ripe for redevelopment.
Hollywood plans to capitalize on its popular beach, recently ranked sixth in the nation — five spots ahead of Fort Lauderdale, said Mayor Josh Levy.
“For decades, all the attention was out west and now all the attention is back east on the coastal cities,” Levy said. “People are looking to come back to the coastal cities, closer to the beach and the downtowns, the airports and the seaports. We have an opportunity for a rebirth and reinvestment.”
Hollywood officials say Margaritaville — the $147 million Jimmy Buffett-themed beach resort that opened in late 2015 — has helped spur new development along the barrier island and is bringing crowds to the beach.
Dania Beach, once known for its Antique Row, also has high hopes of becoming a destination town.
“People think Dania Beach is a sleepy place you just drive through,” Mayor Tamara James said. “I like the phrase ‘Dania Beach is on the rise.’ We’re not what we used to be. We’re heading in a new direction.”
A key player fueling the city’s redevelopment is Dania Pointe, a sprawling 102-acre entertainment village that will be built in phases over the next few years on the east side of Interstate 95 at Stirling Road.