After years of potholes, cracked asphalt, and faded parking stripes, the parking lot of the shopping center where Old Florida Seafood was located has been resealed, restriped, and landscaped.
Located on Northeast 26 Street, the once-dilapidated parking lot was considered an eyesore by city officials, and business owners felt it was hurting their bottom line.
“It’s 100 percent better,” said John Yang, owner of Lotus Chinese Kitchen. Yang said business has increased since the improvements because he said some people thought the parking lot’s condition meant the shopping center was about to be demolished or redeveloped.
“Any improvement is better than no improvement,” Yang added.
“It’s a major improvement. It’s about time,” said Richard Stetler, owner of The Best Cellar.
Lori Cobb, property manager for the shopping plaza, said that signage will be added and additional painting will be done. She said the owners are also trying to get tenants to fill Old Florida Seafood and the other empty storefronts, such as where Jimmie’s Chocolates and J M Designs was located. “We’re open to any type of business, from art to retail to restaurant,” said Cobb.
Commissioner Julie Carson and Commissioner Tom Green also praised the improvements. “It certainly looks a lot better,” said Carson, who called the parking lot “horrible” before. “This is an example of improvement in the city,” said Green. In April of 2015, Mayor Gary Resnick called the parking lot an eyesore which was discouraging businesses from coming into the city. Commissioner Scott Newton disagreed on the impact the parking lot was having but agreed it needed to be fixed.
At a recent commission meeting, the mayor spoke about another unsightly property at the corner of Andrews Avenue and Oakland Park Boulevard and the importance of code enforcement as a tool to get property owners to maintain their properties. “Strong code enforcement is the greatest contributor to [high] property values.”
Despite the improvements to the shopping center on Northeast 26 Street, it’s days may be numbered. At least in its current form.
In October of last year, Fort Lauderdale Commissioner and Wilton Manors attorney Dean Trantalis, who represents the owner of the plaza, which is located at Northeast 15 Street and Northeast 26 Street, said his client plans on demolishing the existing structures and building a mixed-use development that would include condos, retail space, and possibly a boutique hotel and parking garage.
In October, he also said his client is working to attract joint venture partners for the project. An application for development could be submitted within the next 24 to 36 months. Any proposed development would have to be approved by the city commission.