Oakland Park: A Destination in Its Own Right
Oakland Park has historically been a pass-through City, a small enclave part of Greater Fort Lauderdale without any particular significance or identity of its own – until now.
For many years, City leaders have envisioned Oakland Park as a destination in its own right. Toward that end they have worked indefatigably to find ways to transform Oakland Park into a community that stands out on its own.
Last year when they made a request for qualifications for a developer to partner with them to transform downtown, they got one step closer to making that vision a reality.
Choosing a Partner for Oakland Park's Second Century
In order to choose a qualified firm to partner with Oakland Park in building toward its Second Century, the City pre-qualified developers through a rigorous two phase selection process. According to City Manager, David Hebert, the process was designed so that in the first phase developers would have a clear idea of the City’s needs and expectations for this partnership.
In the first round 12 developers submitted proposals. Ultimately, five developers made the City’s shortlist and advanced to Phase 2.
On November 15, 2021 the five pre-qualified developers were invited to submit proposals for Phase 2 of the selection process. Three developers submitted final proposals for the project:
- Kaufman Lynn Construction and Falcone Group
- Terra, Comras Company & Zyscovich
- Merrimac Ventures all submitted proposals.
The City’s Evaluation Committee ranked each firm on 15 different characteristics. Their final recommendation was for Kaufman Lynn and the Falcone Group, the same developer that is building City Park at our current Collins Community Center location.
After seeing presentations by the Top 3 contenders, the City Commission unanimously approved the Evaluation Committee’s recommendation and another step was taken toward’s the redevelopment and revitalization of Oakland Park.
Now that a partner has been chosen an agreement with the City must be reached within the next 90 days. The 90 day deadline is a self-imposed deadline according to Hebert. The reason for this is so that the City can demonstrate to the County and the Florida Department of Transportation that they are committed to making the changes needed to put Oakland Park on the map, the commuter rail map that is.
Hebert is confident an agreement can be met as during the selection process 85% of the primary elements of the plan had already been addressed. Now it is just a matter of making sure everything is well thought out for the foreseeable future so that any challenges that may arise can be met and overcome.
Oakland Park's Renaissance
While this development project will completely change the look of Downtown Oakland Park, it is not designed to change the small-town locals and tourists alike appreciate. It is designed to make it stand out and shine on its own.
City Commissioner Mitch Rosenwald underscored this point when he commented to LivingInOaklandPark.com regarding the choice of developer : “The Falcone-Kaufman developer is a vital partner in the “smart growth” of downtown Oakland Park and will help transform Oakland Park into a destination city”.
Hebert commented on the change as “transformative”, noting that “we are experiencing a true renaissance”, but that we will always be the small-town-feeling City of Oakland Park.
What the New Downtown Oakland Park Will Be Like
Kaufman Lynn / Falcone group’s transformation proposal stood out amongst the other devlopers, scoring 100+ in the final scoring by the Evaluation Committee. Their proposal quite simply knocked it out of the park.
Their proposal includes mixed use development designed to make Downtown Oakland Park more liveable and walkable, a key to sustain that small-town feeling. What Oakland Parkers can expect to see is:
- A five-story building with a total 56 apartments directly across the street from Funky Buddha on the south side of NE 38th St. It will also have eight live-work units with residential and business space. The ground floor would have retail spaces, with offices above it. There would be parking for 208 cars and on the roof of the building would be a space for special events.
- A townhouse development with three-story townhouses, housing a total of 22 units.
- 190 apartments in a six-story building with retail units on the ground floor, an amenity deck with a pool, and parking for up to 550 cars. Up to 10% of the apartments would be set aside for affordable housing.
A Woonerf Here and a Woonerf There
A woonerf (pronounced vo-nairf) translated from the Dutch literally means a living yard but in practice it is more like a living street. It is a streetscape concept implemented in the low countries of western Europe. These woonerfs are designed for people, children, cars, bikes, stores. While the idea of all those on a street might sound scary the woonerf concept promotes traffic calming, low speed limits so that cars and people can co-exist, bringing the streets to life.
For the Downtown Oakland Park proposal a woonerf was an essential part of Oakland Park as a commuter rail stop. The woonerf for the Oakland Park train station would provide the ideal access to and from the train while at the same time being a part of living streetscape that includes walking paths, public event spaces and spots for enjoying food and other outdoor activities. But that is just one idea for a woonerf that was essential to the proposal.
The idea is to have many a woonerf here and many a woonerf there making the streets of Downtown Oakland Park living breathing streets that proportion the people that walk it, bike it and live it a unique experience.
Next Stop: Oakland Park / Wilton Manors
Last year Oakland Park become the winner apparent of the FDOT’s plan to add a commuter rail stop in the Oakland Park / Wilton Manors area. So a key part of the Downtown development project was to include the train station in plan to redevelop Downtown.
The Kaufman Lynn / Falcone Group’s project not only included the rail stop but also earmarked $5.6 million toward building the train stop itself. If the everything goes as planned the redevelopment should be completed in 2025 with the commuter rail taking on its first passengers in about 2027.
Oakland Park in Its Second Century
The partnership with Kaufman Lynn / Falcone Group will put nearly $150 million dollars into the redevelopment of Oakland Park’s downtown. This is one step closer to the vision that City leaders have been working toward for decades. It will make the highest and best use of the City’s center while at the same time bring economic development which will bring new jobs, new residences, green space and commercial space.
At this point there is no doubt that Oakland Park will enter its Second Century with a brand new look. However, while the outside will change, City leaders have made it clear that is all that will change, Oakland Park will still be a small-town City but with a newer and bolder identity, all its own.