Building Broward: The Transit Systems Shaping a Rapidly Growing Florida County

Florida is the Future
Video
August 16, 2022

 

    

With migration to South Florida continuing unabated, Broward County finds itself among the fastest growing counties in Florida. Anticipating the need to accommodate the influx of newcomers while continuing to serve existing residents, governmental authorities are making major investments in transportation infrastructure in Broward County, with important effects on local real estate development. In this interview, Bilzin Sumberg’s Kelly Melchiondo brings her wide ranging South Florida construction experience to a discussion with Alex Hockman of Florida-based, global engineering firm NV5, where they explore how Broward’s investments in transportation infrastructure and local real estate development are shaping one another.

TRANSCRIPT:

MELCHIONDO: Hello everyone, I'm Kelly Melchiondo, a partner in Bilzin Sumberg's construction law group. 

I'm excited to welcome you today to a thoughtful discussion on infrastructure and its growth in one of Florida's largest growing counties- Broward County.

Specifically, we're going to examine the role that infrastructure is playing on the county's real estate development, such as the rapidly expanding international airport in Fort Lauderdale and other transportation infrastructure. 

As with so many other metropolitan areas in Florida, local and county authorities in Broward have had to plan for a major upsurge of inbound migration into Broward County attributed to, of course, residents coming in from other parts of the country, coupled with a massive increase in tourism over the last few years, as the COVID waves begin to wait, the improvement and development of mass transit of course plays a huge role in this. The most prominent example in Broward County recently has been the international expansion of Fort Lauderdale airport. 

Today I'm joined by Alex Hockman, the President of NV5, a global engineering firm that has its hands in everything from infrastructure, technology, water, and utilities, to residential, commercial and industrial development.

NV5 is a homegrown industry headquartered in Hollywood, Florida. Given his intimate knowledge of development and infrastructure here in South Florida, Alex is uniquely positioned to give us thoughtful insights on infrastructure's growth here in Broward County and its effect on local real estate.

I'm delighted to welcome you today, Alex. Thank you so much for joining me. 

HOCKMAN: Thank you for the invitation. 

MELCHIONDO: To start off, can you give us an overview on what transportation and infrastructure investment and development in Broward County has looked like over the last couple of years? 

HOCKMAN: Well, particularly as we look at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, it's been very, very substantial. It initiated in recent times with the construction of a new runway, there's been new terminals to accommodate more flights and there's currently a convention center as well as a hotel under construction. 

Some of the proposed projects include a new 300 room hotel at the airport facility, as well as additional parking garages, an automated people mover, as well, as an intermodal center.

One of the unique aspects of that area is the proximity of the airport, the Seaport, as well as the convention center. And a number of the improvements are going to make the ability to navigate between those facilities much more seamless and efficient. 

MELCHIONDO: So we've all heard the phrase-If you build it, they will come. And on the one hand we've seen that the development of Fort Lauderdale airport has been the direct result of the influx in tourism and immigration into South Florida. But have you seen any development in local real estate because of the airport expansion? 

HOCKMAN: So examples that come to mind are the hotels that are being constructed immediately around the airport.

I also saw a study from 2021 that indicated 2 million square feet of additional project were planned and are currently under construction. Dania Beach is being transformed with a number of projects and mixed use projects. 

MELCHIONDO: When we talk about the expansion of transportation infrastructure, we often talk about the public-private partnerships or the P3s. That's when the government owns the asset but private entity will develop it or operate it.

What has been your observation of P3s and their involvement in this growing infrastructure with South Florida? 

HOCKMAN: So historically South Florida is home to some great examples of P3-successful P3 projects, one being the 595 express corridor, and another the Miami tunnel. And currently under construction is the Brightline.

So I think from a successful history, we have a great story to tell with respect to P3 in South Florida. We're also seeing a continuation of traditional design-bid-build, design-build, and also design-build-operate and maintain. But the flexibility, the financial flexibility of a P3, is one that's going to keep it as a viable mechanism for infrastructure projects in the future.

MELCHIONDO: Outside of Fort Lauderdale, where investment in transit oriented development is readily apparent, are there any other areas of Broward County that you see, that are ripe for growth of residential or mixed use tied into this transit expansion? 

HOCKMAN: One of the notable projects is Brightline. It's a much needed project to reduce congestion and they're also building some fantastic mixed use stations. So that will connect a lot more areas outside of just metropolitan Miami-Dade County, as well as Fort Lauderdale.

Broward County also passed a 1 cent sales tax. To date, they have about a billion dollars in reserve and over the next 30 years they'll have an excess of $15 billion dollars. So there's a lot of money that will be available to support and fund infrastructure projects.

One of the projects is the Bus Rapid Transit lane that will connect the east-west corridors throughout Broward County, and that's an exciting project that is already slated for construction. 

MELCHIONDO: Alex, thank you so much for your insightful observations. You've done a great job explaining how the growth of Broward's transportation infrastructure impacts the local real estate development.

I think our viewers will appreciate this information about the crucial relationship between infrastructure and the growth of real estate. 

HOCKMAN: Thank you very much. 

MELCHIONDO: To our audience, thank you for tuning in. 

We look forward to bringing you more information and updates on the rapid growth of South Florida's real estate market.

All of these interviews can be found at Bilzin.com.

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