The City of Pompano Beach unveiled two potential master developers for over 75 acres of property owned by the City and the Pompano Beach Community Redevelopment Agency at a public forum last week. The developers, Related Urban Development Group and RocaPoint Partners unveiled their competing plans for the parcels before a packed auditorium in the Pompano Beach Cultural Center.
The presentations showcased their visions for a new downtown Pompano that would fit snuggly between Atlantic and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevards. “Not many cities get to build a downtown from scratch,” said Nguyen Tran, Pompano Beach CRA Director, at the forum.
For more than three decades, the City has assembled parcels of land in what will become the new downtown Pompano. “This is truly a historic day for the City of Pompano Beach,” said Mayor Rex Hardin.
The plots range in size from .2 to 8.35 acres and do not all connect, making developing the land a creative challenge to which both firms have a solution.
In recent years, downtown development has been a background consideration for most major infrastructure initiatives in Pompano Beach. The City has invested heavily in infrastructure in the proposed area to allow for higher-density vertical development. “Infrastructure is a big, big part of being able to do vertical development,” said Albert Milo, Jr., President Related Urban Development Group
Both companies remarked on the impact of public funding from the City, which has enhanced the appeal of Pompano for private investments.
Negotiating teams from the City will meet with representatives from the competing firms in the coming months. They will determine which firm best fulfills several overlapping factors and make a recommendation.
At the forum, the tone of the public input sharply contrasted with the upbeat mood of the city commissioners, who were all present. Residents expressed concerns that their neighborhood would become unrecognizable and that there wouldn’t be a place for them in the future. However, Hardin declared that single-family housing in the surrounding neighborhoods is “sacrosanct.”
More opportunities for public input are planned, but not scheduled as of press time.
The firms and their visions
Related Urban development group
One of the state’s largest private real estate developers, Related Group has been heavily involved in South Florida for decades. They are mainly known for their luxury apartment building expertise in South Florida; the firm currently has two beachside buildings in Pompano under development.
They have shifted into affordable and workforce housing in recent years and have built, rehabilitated or managed more than 25,000 units, according to their website. And in the Wynwood district in Miami, they saw an opportunity to develop sites that other companies did not envision, working with the City to turn a warehouse district into a vibrant neighborhood. “Arts and culture have a way of bolstering neighborhoods,” said Milo.
Related Urban Development Group has a plan for “placemaking,” said Jon Paul Perez, President of Related Group, the parent company of Related Urban Development Group. With a combination of public art, green spaces, trails, and walkability in mind, Related plans to mainly use the existing plots provided by the City and the CRA.
Related’s vision is divided into three phases, with each phase anticipated to last two years. The first phase centers around “activating” MLK Boulevard, aiming to generate foot traffic, strengthen businesses and foster a sense of community.
The second phase would revamp the civic facilities where City Hall and the Pompano Beach Cultural Center currently reside on Atlantic Boulevard. The third and final phase would develop the southwestern-most parcels of land into a mixed-use town center with commercial, office and residential uses.
Their vision would include 1,368 new housing units, 415,000 square feet of brand new office, civic and commercial spaces, a new hotel and more than six acres of new green space.
A much younger company with a small, yet impressive portfolio, RocaPoint Partners has shown they are capable of creating impressive and innovative developments that attract desirable tenants, both in terms of businesses and the young professionals that come with them.
Their notable projects include the Professional Golfer’s Association headquarters and Greenville County Square, a $1.1 billion property redevelopment in downtown Greenville, South Carolina.
Their vision for a new downtown in Pompano Beach resembles a more traditional approach to “activating” an area.
The RocaPoint plan would rely heavily on land acquisitions, property swaps, new partnerships and other creative real estate techniques in order to assemble the land needed to execute their vision.
The main visual characteristic of their vision is a massive water feature that would run through the heart of the new downtown Pompano leading up to a brand new city hall. They estimate around 1 million cubic feet of stormwater storage will be necessary for the water feature.
In addition to moving city hall, RocaPoint proposes several multi-family buildings with abundant first-floor space for retail and restaurants. Their vision resembles Mizner Park in Boca Raton; a semi-enclosed retail and living space.
If their vision becomes a reality, RocaPoint plans to build more than 2,000 new multi-family housing units, 275 new hotel rooms, 230,000 square feet of civic space, and more than 685,000 square feet of retail and office space.