Developers revitalize historic Downtown Hollywood in South Florida – The Real Deal

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People visiting Hollywood, Florida often bypass the city’s downtown and head right to the award-winning beach and historic Broadwalk. However, a new wave of development activity is attracting both residents and businesses back to the core of the city. 

Downtown Hollywood has a growing pipeline of residential mixed-use projects that are energizing what has long been an underutilized area of the city. More than 3,500 new residential units are either under construction or approved in Downtown Hollywood and along the major corridors within walking distance of the downtown core. 

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“The current volume and quality of both public and private investment in the City of Hollywood is the highest it’s ever been,” says Assistant City Manager Raelin Storey. “As the city approaches its 100th anniversary in 2025, this will ensure the city continues to live up to its original vision of being a vibrant, resilient and welcoming city-by-the sea in Florida.”

Sitting between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, the City of Hollywood was founded by Joseph Young in the 1920s. His vision was to create a “dream city” and urban village. What started out as a charming downtown two miles west of the beach, shifted with the expansion of U.S. Highway 1 that ran directly through the central business district. 

“There really wasn’t any semblance of a pedestrian-oriented downtown,” says Jorge Camejo, Executive Director of the Hollywood Community Redevelopment Agency. 

Over the past two decades, the city has worked to bring Young’s original vision back to life. The city has made key changes and investments that are now paying off with redevelopment activity concentrated in the downtown that is gaining traction along with a surge of demand from South Florida’s growing population. Some of the steps that have paved the way for that revitalization include a revised zoning code that supports smart, targeted redevelopment along with investments in infrastructure and beautification. 

“The bottom line is that Hollywood really has the bone structure that makes it a very unique and special place,” says Camejo. The city and the CRA have been working together to build on Hollywood’s existing attributes, which include its beachfront and investment in amenities such as its Broadwalk and Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort. Investment in the beach is the economic engine of Hollywood, and downtown also is reaping the benefits of that as well, he adds. 

Laying the groundwork

The city and CRA have put a solid foundation in place to transform its historic downtown which is now producing results. They embraced a Complete Streets approach to create an environment that can accommodate vehicles and pedestrians. Vehicular access is now balanced with walkable sidewalks, electric shuttles and other methods of transportation along with better aesthetics. The city and CRA also have worked to support a vibrant dining and cultural scene featuring over 30 iconic outdoor murals and a wide array of sidewalk cafés with outdoor gathering spaces, including the ArtsPark at Young Circle that offers year-round, free special events and concerts.  

The CRA is investing about $14 million in redoing the entire streetscape from 21st Avenue all the way to Young Circle on Hollywood Boulevard. In addition, the CRA has put in more lighting and is planning to redo many of the avenues to link the neighborhoods on the north side to the downtown. “The game plan is to create these pedestrian environments, and to make sure that these investments are creating quality projects that will be attractive to future patrons for this area,” says Camejo. 

The city is now seeing a surge in residential development downtown that is creating a growing downtown population. Looking ahead, there is an opportunity to build on that core with additional residential units and commercial space for businesses that want to serve the growing population. 

“There is certainly a lot to be excited about in Downtown Hollywood. The new streetscape on Hollywood Boulevard is underway and includes expanded sidewalks for additional outdoor dining, energy-efficient, historically inspired vintage lighting, and new landscaping that includes magnificent Medjool palms that are not only beautiful but also provide a canopy of shade and coolness,” says Hollywood Mayor Josh Levy. “These new public improvements and developments have clearly put Downtown Hollywood on the radar of investors, developers, and those seeking a South Florida tropical urban lifestyle,” adds Levy.

Some of the key projects reshaping Downtown Hollywood include:

1818 Park: This mixed-use development is located on the southwest quadrant of Young Circle. The development includes 269 upscale residential units with approximately 30,000 square feet of retail space, and it features a replication of the façade of the historic Great Southern Hotel.

Icon Office Building: Downtown Hollywood’s newest Class A building is four stories high and approximately 50,000 sq. ft. With large common areas, the building is designed with a modern minimal industrial feel. The building’s entrances feature cool tones and marble finishes. City National Bank is prominent on the ground level with two drive-through lanes.

Soleste Hollywood Village: The Estate Companies is developing a 503-unit luxury Class A apartment project on Van Buren Street adjacent to Young Circle. The developer also is planning Soleste Hollywood Boulevard, an eight-story, luxury Class A apartment project that will be located adjacent to North Dixie Highway and Hollywood Boulevard.

The Bread Building: BTI Partners is developing a mixed-use project located on the southeast quadrant of Young Circle at the site of the former Hollywood Bread Building. The development includes 361 multi-family units and 17,000 square feet of retail space.

B57 North and South: The planned redevelopment of the commercial parcel on the east side of Young Circle includes the reconfiguration of Hollywood Boulevard to connect directly with Young Circle, dividing the site into two development parcels. The proposed redevelopment includes north and south towers featuring 802 residential units and approximately 180,000 square feet of commercial/office space.

More runway ahead

The investment in the area around Young Circle has served as an important catalyst to redevelopment activity. 

“When developers see development occurring and cranes moving, that means that there is investment activity taking place,” says Camejo. “What we now see throughout the neighborhoods of the downtown is additional investment because we have created confidence that this is an area worth investing in. Frankly, we have more residential projects coming in then than we could have ever expected,” he says.

The City of Hollywood is helping to pave the way for developers through incentives and by streamlining its processes. 

  • The city has two ideally situated Opportunity Zones that offer federal tax breaks that are attractive to investors and entrepreneurs. One of these Opportunity Zones encompasses Downtown Hollywood, while the other includes Oakwood Plaza and South Florida Design and Commerce Center.  
  • The city and CRA each have robust property improvement grants available to help businesses make improvements to the exterior of their properties that will enhance the attractiveness and appeal of their business.  
  • To incentivize affordable housing, the city works with developers to help provide gap financing and provide impact fee waivers that can help get projects to the finish line.   

The revitalization occurring downtown is benefiting the entire City of Hollywood. “A successful downtown is an economic driver for any city. The addition of new luxury high and mid-rise apartment buildings not only provides quality housing options for those who seek an urban, walkable lifestyle, but the redevelopment of underutilized and outdated properties helps to support the city’s overall tax base,” says Storey.  As more people move into the city they spend money in the businesses within the city, which in turn supports the creation of jobs and helps bolster economic resiliency across the city, she adds.

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