By Anne Geggis
Pompano Beach is looking forward to a new Hilton hotel opening right by the beach.
It’ll be the first hotel to break ground in 52 years in an area chosen for redevelopment, helping fulfill a plan to overhaul the beachside corridor into a world-class tourist destination.
The hotel will replace a city parking lot at 3410 Pier St., next to the city’s new parking garage. It’s expected to be five stories tall and have 150 rooms.
“It’s been talked about for years and years,” said Mayor Lamar Fisher. “A major piece of the puzzle has fallen into place.”
Tim Hernandez is a developer Pompano hired to turn the city-owned land into property subleased to shops, restaurants and, if all went well, a hotel. Hernandez said he is thrilled that Hilton has recently committed to opening in Pompano.
He said his goal has been to persuade the right names to invest in the new attractions.
“No offense to Motel 6, but that’s not what we wanted here,” said Hernandez, one of the principals in the company called Pompano Pier Associates, a company based in Delray Beach.
BurgerFi, Kilwin’s and a surf shop are some of the businesses he’s signed to fill the Pompano Fishing Village’s retail space.
“We didn’t want a McDonald’s, a Burger King or a Wendy’s,” he said. “We want a more interesting mix you can’t find on a suburban street.”
The city has invested some $50 million to improve a beachside area comprising a few blocks north and south of Atlantic Boulevard. The last hotel opening in that area was in 1965 at the Sands Harbor Resort & Marina.
Redeveloping the beach has been on the city’s agenda since 2002, when the city first asked developers to make proposals to develop 6.5 acres of city-owned land on the beach. That effort collapsed and didn’t resume until 2011.
Back in the 2000s, it was mostly just beach and parking lots, recalls Dawne Richards, who moved there in 2005.
“I used to go out walking at night and I’d be the only person,” she said. “That’s scary.”
Poised to transform the area, the city:
— Completed a $24 million garage festooned with sails and a giant fish in June last year.
Built amenities such as a splash park and a refurbished playground for the kids.
— Beautified Atlantic Boulevard from Federal Highway to its eastern reach with nicer medians.
— Put utility lines underground, narrowed Pompano Beach Boulevard and widened seaside sidewalks.
— Added grass and other landscaping along a walkway along the beach.
Now, most every morning dawns with a parade of seaside walkers.
Pompano’s big investment along the beach persuaded Aashish Patel to build and operate the multimillion-dollar hotel, he said. He and his father run Naples-based Madhav Group, which opens and runs hotels and tourist attractions.
The Pompano property will combine Hilton concepts to entice two key groups: millennials in for a night or two and families in for a longer stay, he said. One part of the hotel will feature suites, and another part will offer smaller rooms.
“A lot of exciting things have been coming out of the ground,” Patel said, predicting that the hotel will be breaking ground within the next year.
A hotel will mean that the beachside won’t become a ghost town during the time of year that many of Pompano’s condos are empty, Hernandez said. New businesses will draw customers year-round.
“It’s a synergy,” he said
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