Pompano Inches Closer to Goal of Being a Beach Destination

By Anne Geggis, New Source @Sunsentinel 

Soon, you can get seafood and sandwiches as you stroll the sand in Pompano Beach.

An oceanside restaurant — the Beach House — will open in March, the first in 13 years. Another restaurant, the Oceanic, is aiming to start serving on its ship-shaped restaurant early next year on the north side of the city pier, along with a beach bar on the pier’s south side.

Permits are also underway for buildings that will serve hamburgers and ice cream, as well as offering retail.

The city’s eastern edge, once known for its canyons of condos along the shore, is nearly ready to become the destination for visitors it has longed to be.

The transformation comes after about eight years and $50 million in public investment in a parking garage, a beautified walkway, water taxi stands and the rebuilding of its pier.

“There’s been a lot of big changes— it was due time,” said Nancy Amsterdam, 86, who is retired from real estate and an area resident for the last 50 years. “Everything was sort of old and dilapidated.”

Mayor Lamar Fisher said the city needed to give people a place to park and an inviting thoroughfare to stroll.

“Before, the entire streetscape you see here didn’t exist. It was ugly,” he said, glancing at the outdoor workout area that includes a step machine with an ocean view. “Now we’re seeing the live, work, play concept we’ve been thirsty for so, so many years.”

For 18 years, until Hurricane Wilma roared through in 2005, Fisherman’s Wharf had been Pompano’s beach dining landmark. Hurricane damage and a desire for something more upscale led city leaders to look for another renter, but nobody stepped in.

A key ingredient was missing, said Kim Briesemeister, principal of Redevelopment Management Associates redevelopment company.

“There was no one that would have invested money in opening a shop or a restaurant on the beach if there was no parking,” Breisemeister said. “We had to find a way to protect a quaint, village-type atmosphere but accommodate what’s a necessity for any restaurant — parking.”

In 2016, the city opened the 609-space parking garage on the barrier island, following the burying underground of powerlines and widening of oceanside sidewalks in 2015. And last year, the city began replacing its 54-old pier, scheduled for completion in 2019.

When it’s done, the fish-shaped pier end will also have a place for pier strollers to peer at the water from the fish eye.

This kind of investment convinced Lou Moshakos, CEO and founder of North Carolina-based LM Restaurants, to open the 450-seat Oceanic and the 200-seat beach bar on Pompano’s eastern extremity.

“To me, Pompano is a sleeping lion,” he said. “When everyone works together — city government and private investors — and you’re sitting on the ocean, you can’t lose.”

A Hilton hotel operator has also committed to building a 150-room hotel on the city-owned land.

And there to bring them customers is the Pompano Beach Water Taxi. It started last month and has so far sold 500 tickets to those wanting to take in Pompano’s offerings and other sites along the northern shore of Broward County.

Kathleen Faflick lived in Boca Raton for years without ever giving Pompano a second thought — or visiting its beach. But now, after a year of living here, she’s convinced it’s among the area’s most beautiful.

“Now there’s a ton to do and we’re looking forward to all the new stuff,” she said.