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In The Heart of Broward County Lies Davie, Florida

A few miles from the Atlantic, the Everglades Conservation Area, and Miami and Boca Raton, Davie lies in Broward County, Florida. Davie was founded in the early 1900s by immigrants who dubbed it “Zona” after their former home in the Panama Canal Zone. In 1916, the town was renamed Davie in honor of Robert Parsell Davie, who helped drain the Everglades swamplands.

Davie now has over 100,000 inhabitants spread across 36 square miles. Rural, commercial, residential, industrial, educational, and rural villages mingle in Davie’s western part. The town has traditionally been known as a “Cowboy” town, with many older structures evoking the “Wild West”. The Bergeron Rodeo Grounds, created in the early 1940s, hold concerts, family entertainment, auto displays, horse shows, and other activities.

Davie is also home to several nationally recognized colleges, technical institutes, and universities, such as Nova Southeastern University, Florida Atlantic University, Broward College, McFatter Technical College, ITT Technical Institute, Unilatina International College, and Trinity International University.

When Business View Magazine last talked with Giovanni Moss, Director of Community Development, and Town Administrator, Phillip Holste, Moss is in charge of the Town’s Community Redevelopment Agency. They work to retain and safeguard a community’s tax base, reduce slum and blight, promote affordable housing, and encourage public sector engagement within a redevelopment region. The CRA is located on the east side of Davie.

Holste oversees construction, engineering, zoning, public works, and economic development. According to him, the town has witnessed around $500 million in a new building in recent years, led by Davie’s RAC, or Regional Activity Center. RACs are land-use zones designed to promote mixed-use living, working, shopping, education, and recreation. The Davie Regional Activity Center encompasses roughly 2,200 acres east of University Avenue. With transit access, fluctuating housing rates, and economic development potential in mind, the RAC Master Plan was developed in 2006.

We recently got up with them to check out how various town development and infrastructure projects are coming along.

A student housing project in downtown Davie has broken ground and is under construction, according to Moss. “That’s 246 units multiplied by four to give beds. The other projects should start in six to eight months.”

A new Town Hall is one such proposed project. “We issued an RFP (Request for Proposal) for a public/private collaboration for the Town Hall project,” adds Moss. One of our elected officials will be invited to attend a workshop to discuss the proposal, and hopefully recommend negotiating the development and improvement of a 24-acre parcel that includes a town hall and other commercial/retail development within our downtown corridor, and the construction or relocation of a town hall elsewhere. It also featured upgrades to the rodeo grounds and a museum. Those aspects need to be discussed with the developer we choose to work with. We have to go through the screening process to determine if it’s the proper collaboration before we sign anything.”

Academical Village — 2.5 million square feet of retail, residential, hotel, office, and medical space on 30 acres being built by University Partners, a joint venture between the Brandon Company and Nova Southeastern University. “The first phase of that project will break ground in 2018,” Holste adds. This includes a 250-bed hospital and 100,000 square feet of medical offices. HCA will buy the land and develop the hospital. They will destroy an existing commercial complex in the next two months, and then begin ground in February on the real hospital and medical office space. I believe the Academic Village will take ten years to complete.

The IDI Construction Company is presently building the 1.2 million square foot Davie Business Center. “They built the first two,” Holste explains. “They’ve broken ground on a third 150,000-square-foot flexible warehouse site over there. Carnival Cruise Lines just become the largest tenant. They use the place for entertainment.”

Holste says that various local road projects and other infrastructure requirements are moving forward. “The Davie highway upgrade project coming into our downtown is underway,” he explains. This project’s third phase is still in design. Other road projects include Nova Drive, which will begin construction in the fourth quarter of 2017. Our sixth fire station will open in mid-2018. Regarding drainage, we have a stormwater master plan that we will present to the town council next month.

Moss stated last year that Davie has long desired a western-themed downtown to honor its “cowboy” and equestrian pasts. “It was part of the original RFP,” he explains. “We desired a western-themed downtown. The concept included a western town with stores, entertainment, and a boutique hotel, all themed around our rodeo and western motif, as well as a tourist attraction with cabaret acts or a museum. But, again, we need to talk and flesh out all of this before moving further. But the concept remains, and the proposal returned reflects it. We want to make sure we can move forward with this current development within the next six months. Two or three years to observe development is still quite swift in ‘government time.’ ”

The landscape of downtown Davie hasn’t changed much in the last year, but Moss expects it to shift dramatically when buildings go upwards. “We have a lot of projects sanctioned and ready to build; all mixed-use — retail and business on the ground floor, residential above. Outside the CRA, we’ve seen a lot of residential growth in the city. The next spillover effect will be to establish a family-friendly atmosphere for Millennials. I believe we have the community, elected officials, and staff support to make it happen.”

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