When David Bowles and his husband were looking to move from Wilton Manors, they found the perfect house in Oakland Park. They saw the city’s connectivity and growth potential in the downtown area and decided it would be the perfect place to raise their family. It’s not like David was a stranger to the city, since Oakland Park is home to his company, Elite Home Staging, located at 3944 NE 5th Avenue.
Yet still, it was the city’s growth potential that encouraged David to buy and renovate three downtown Oakland Park buildings and lease them to restaurant owners, like Patrick Little of our soon-to-be The Butcher’s Barrel fame, in hopes to spur this growth. One thing is certain: David sees a proliferation happening in our city and he wants to be a part of it.
“I would like to see Oakland Park as a funky Las Olas,” says David. “The reason I say ‘funky Las Olas’ is because Las Olas lost its uniqueness for bringing in local businesses. I feel like now it’s geared more towards big-box, larger profitable companies. Where I feel like Oakland Park can stay on that funky road, and build from Funky Buddha with smaller business that really capture that unique market we have available in downtown.”
David has a total of seventeen units downtown, and as I mentioned earlier, two of those units now belong to the The Butcher’s Barrel. He doesn’t want it to stop there though. His hope is to see a bakery, a pizza shop, an ice-cream parlor—you name it.
He explains, “Whenever I look for people who want to move into my building or open up spaces for businesses, I try to target high traffic businesses. So, ice-cream shop, pizza shop, a restaurant, a bakery— all of those have lots of people coming in and out and I think that’s how we are going to change downtown Oakland Park. The goal is to get more people walking up and down that street.”
As a landlord for several buildings in the downtown area, procuring businesses that produce traffic is more than just a goal, it’s lifeblood. David works closely with the city to help realize the area’s potential, and it’s his belief that the only way to change the downtown area into the city’s vision for the future is to make it more dense with residential spaces, like the Oakland Park Square project. He also believes that the neighborhood east of downtown Oakland Park is going to be a next hot spot that either flippers or investors will target.
With Elite Home Staging David works with a lot of flippers and investors. He hopes they’ll buy and invest into those great little homes just east of Main Street and flip them to first-time home buyers, perhaps even, with a little assistance from Elite Home Staging. These residents would then utilize the downtown area and frequent the businesses to which he rents his commercial properties. The bottom line: he hopes to see more residents around a vibrant downtown area, enjoying Main Street and all it will have to offer.
David says, “Any thriving business needs traffic and right now, that’s the one thing downtown is missing—traffic. One of the companies Elite Home Staging has staged for many times is a developer out of New Jersey that builds luxury apartment buildings. They just built a building five blocks away from Main Street with somewhere around 30 apartments. That’s 30 new residents that can walk to the downtown area! When you drive around that area, you’re gonna see new apartment complexes, renovated houses, and a couple of town house developments all starting to happen and I think that’s the traffic that will change the whole city.”
“I think that the new influx of residents coming to Oakland Park is ready for the change more so than some in the community think they’re ready for. I think that there’s still a little bit of an old-school mentality for not wanting so much change, but I think a majority of the residents want this change more so than some residents think. You can say this old-school mentality is the ‘base’, and like in politics, you want to respect your base, but you also don’t want to hinder progress and development. You kind of have to put it all to the side and think about what is best for the entire community as a whole, and will growth benefit all that are involved—and the answer is yes.”
As David works behind the scenes selecting tenants that are good additions to the City’s culinary district and helping with flippers and investors attract new residents to Oakland Park it is clear that David is an integral part in helping Oakland Park lives its motto of A City On The Move.
Steven Mayer is a local Floridian who grew up in the South Corals area of Oakland Park most of his life. He attended Rickards Middle, Northeast High and earned his B.A. in English from FAU. He’s done some writing and editorial work for a south Florida lifestyle magazine and is proud to have been a partner with Starbucks for a total of 18 years.
After testing out a couple U.S. cities in his twenties, Steven realized that nothing beats home, and eventually settled back down in the Downtown Oakland Park area with his partner Douglas (another Oakland Park native), their three Pekinese dogs and two beautiful cats.
Steven enjoys anything Disney, vegan cooking, going for runs, attending local festivals, traveling, and game nights with friends and family.