By Anne Geggis
A new plaza to enliven the city’s blighted section was introduced Friday with a splash — and a burst of flame.
They call it the “Fountain Flame” because the plaza’s fountain is no ordinary specimen. In fact, it’s the first of its kind in the United States, according to city officials. And city officials are convinced it will ignite more interest in an area better known for empty lots and trash.
“All great cities need a great place and this is a great place,” declared Charlotte Burrie, the city’s vice mayor, as a drumbeat heralded the climb of three columns of water and flame.
With technology from Germany, the fountain injects propane into water so three plumes of water and flame rise.
The city paid $330,000 for the fountain — part of a $12 million improvement that also added streetscaping to nearby Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. It comes on top of $1 million spent to renovate an old hotel into an art venue, Bailey Contemporary Arts.
The hope is that adding art-themed public attractions will lure restaurants and businesses to the northwest area. Two years since the art venue opened, a coffee shop, the Blooming Bean, is the sole new new purveyor of food and beverages in this block between Northeast First Street and Atlantic Boulevard.
For now, the fountain will be shooting columns of flame and water only during the monthly street party, Old Town Untapped, that happens the first Friday of every month. But that could change when restaurants start moving into the area, said Kim Briesemeister, co-executive director of the city’s redevelopment agency.
And that should be soon, she said.
“The Odd Breed Brewery is in construction process now and the owners of the Foundry will be opening a restaurant as well and three other tenants are in negotiation,” she said.
In the meantime, the hundreds who gathered to watch the spectacle were impressed.
“It’s going to be a major attraction,” said Tamara Corbin, 40, who works at a digital marketing firm. “I’ve never been prouder to be a resident of Pompano Beach.”