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Brittany Hopwood

Neighborhood Meeting: Downtown Oakland Park and Dixie Highway Proposals


On January 6th two meetings took place that discussed the development of two locations on Dixie Highway, in downtown Oakland Park.

Code Ninjas

The first meeting discussed the prospective tenant Code Ninjas. Representing Code Ninjas was Brian O’Neill and Robert Roselli. The main concern for Robert Roselli, property manager of the space Code Ninjas, hopes to occupy is the discrepancy in zoning. Code Ninjas is classified as a technical learning facility, while the space is approved for an arcade or the like.

A Place For Kids To Play And Learn

Both Roselli and O’Neill hope to get clearance for this business which teaches young kids and teens computer coding to prepare them for job opportunities in the future. Students will learn from high school juniors and seniors and college freshmen and sophomores. It operates as a drop in facility where parents can leave their children anywhere from 1 hour to 3 hours at a time for productive interactive learning experiences.

It’s proposed to occupy 2 bays in the Roselli Park Plaza right off of Dixie Highway in downtown Oakland Park. One side would facilitate younger students ages 4-10 and the other would be for older, more advanced students. The expected occupancy at any given time is between 30 to 35 kids. There will not be school bus services as the expectation is for parents to bring the kids themselves and have a chance to run errands, grab dinner, or enjoy child-free time in the local area. There will be light refreshments available to the children that visit, but no food services to avoid any issues with allergies.

Sirulnik discusses his plans with members of the community.

Innovative Program Growing With the Community

O’Neill wishes to bring this franchise to Oakland Park because it will offer the community an innovative child care option. O’Neill acknowledges that Oakland Park is growing and he would like to grow with it.

He addressed concerns about the monthly rate/tuition of $250 by partnering with local community non-profits such as the Catch 81 Foundation, who has already sponsored $5000 to help underprivileged parents get their children involved in this unique education program.

Both the property manager and O’Niell are confident that it would be a great help to local youth, with employment opportunities starting at minimum wage for student instructors; they are also in the process of working with the local school system to make earning credits possible. Students of Code Ninjas graduate the program after 3.5 years and receive a certificate of completion. They can then choose to become instructors themselves.

There are currently 4 other locations currently in operation and 3 more under construction, including the Plantation location that was impacted by the explosion that happened a few months ago. He has no intention of changing the exterior of the building in this new location, save for a standard sign. He only hopes to create a space that is inviting and fun for the Oakland Park youth, and a place that offers an innovative child care option to parents by providing a safe and educational environment in which their children can spend time.

Hopes to Enhance the West Side of Dixie Highway

The last half of the evening covered a new restaurant/bar and apartment proposition, presented by Dean Sirulnik and Gary Grass. It would be a two story property, with the restaurant/bar on the first floor with a 350 square foot patio located directly on Dixie Highway. The upstairs units are envisioned to be two modern, upscale style 1 bedroom apartments. Each would be about 700 square feet with full kitchens, 1 bed, 1 bath, and washer and dryers in unit with an expected lease rate of $1,500 a month. All trash, for the apartments and the restaurant, would be handled at the back of the building and would not be visible from the main road. The new construct would keep with a clean, modern aesthetic and hopes to enhance the west side of Dixie Highway by creating buzz and energy with outdoor seating and walkability in the downtown area.

Creating an Energetic Downtown Community

The main concern was parking, as the approved plan did not have parking directly in front of the building. The neighboring business, Chainbridge Distillery, voiced several concerns regarding patrons coming to park in their limited lot in order to walk over to the new establishment. The solutions proposed included strict towing policies for patrons that were not visiting the distillery, signage at the new restaurant warning customers of the towing policy and directing them to municipal parking provided by Oakland Park, and working with the city to emphasize and make clearer the parking that is currently available in the immediate area. The main vision is to create a walking district.  Pproperty owner, Dean Sirulnik, is paying the appropriate fees for not having parking.

Sirulnink and Grass proposes 3-5 year leases for the incoming restaurant tenant and will only accept prospects that meet their vision of a lively, fresh, and energetic downtown community. A themed cafe would be ideal, or a dual use of the facility with one tenant in the morning and early afternoon and another in the evening. With the approval complete this establishment would be operational and ready for business within 8 to 10 months.

The other main concern from the Distillery is the transformer that would be directly between the two buildings. Currently not in use, it poses no threat, but with the alcohol vapors and fumes, they are worried about a potential explosion if power were to be generated above ground. Dean assured that all of their electric had been converted to underground power, but he agreed to discuss further with FPL about potentially moving the transformer to a safer location.

The Distillery also raised concerns about smoking and lighting fires nearby. These were concerns of which  Sirulnik was unaware of and was eager to reach a safe resolution through further discussion at another time. After proper approvals, the expected opening would be within the first quarter of next year.


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