City of Fort Lauderdale officials are expecting approval by late December or early January for a new 64-acre $110 million water park on the current site of Fort Lauderdale Baseball Stadium. The park needs to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration as it will be built on land given to the city for aviation. The FAA needs to determine whether the $810,000 in annual rent to be paid by the park’s developer is fair market rent.
The new park will be “like nothing you’ve ever seen before” according to Texas-based Schlitterbahn, the developer. It will feature state of the art slides and a four star resort hotel. It will also incorporate Lockhart Stadium, home of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers Soccer Team
While baseball fans may miss the stadium, I will personally take away some great memories. The stadium was the spring training home of the New York Yankees from 1962 to 1995 and for the Baltimore Orioles from 1996 to 2009. I got to see an aging Mickey Mantle play there back in 1968. I saw the first appearance by Jim “Catfish” Hunter in a Yankee uniform in the mid 1970s which marked the start of a free-agent signing spree that changed baseball and helped return the Yankees to their former glory. I took a long lunch break back in 2004 to see the Florida Marlins open spring training as world champions. More recently, I was able to take the field at the stadium as a member of the Southern Yankees of the Federal League, a men’s semi-professional hardball league that paid significantly less than $810,000 to use the facility. I can personally attest that while the park has a rich history, it had fallen into obsolescence. Spring training, which had been a draw for tourism has moved north to Jupiter in Palm Beach County, and there will be no tears shed when the stadium is demolished. A portion of the facade will remain for a castle entrance to the water park.
Construction on the water park can begin as early as next year and we will cover the progress of the project on the Brenner blog. We at Brenner are excited about this new development. As property owners, tenants and agents in the Executive Airport/Cypress Creek/Commercial Boulevard market, we see the potential for new jobs, more tourism, and an overall shot in the arm for the local economy.
As Mayor Jack Seiler explained recently to the South Florida Office Brokers Association, many of us who are active in this business community first came to Broward County as tourists. Any new project that draws visitors to our area will bring long-term economic benefits. In addition, the uptown submarket which has long taken a back seat to the growth in Downtown Fort Lauderdale and Southwest Broward would see its first major new development in years, which should have a long term positive effect on the areas commercial real estate market.
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