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Fort Lauderdale Aiming For A More Walkable Downtown

Huizenga Plaza in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

Fort Lauderdale's commercial real estate sector has boomed the past decade, but except during the occasional beer fest or ultimate frisbee game, its parks can seem ... a little sad. A team from the Urban Land Institute has swooped into the city this week to make recommendations to the Downtown Development Authority on how to enhance parks and open spaces in the city’s urban core.

Specifically, the DDA is looking to develop a new vision for Huizenga Plaza, a small, downtown park with a fountain and an amphitheater on Fort Lauderdale's New River. ULI has been enlisted to explore new uses, programming design and operational management, with the hope of identifying funding mechanisms and an implementation strategy. They will also set criteria for the development of new parks downtown, and explore how the public and private sectors can work together. 

ULI's advisory services program brings land use planning experts to panels worldwide, offering recommendations for complex projects and policies. This Advisory Services panel is being conducted in conjunction with the 10-Minute Walk Campaign, a national movement for residents of urban neighborhoods to have high-quality parks within walking distance. 

ULI's group of land use and planning experts is being led by Stephen Whitehouse, partner at Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners in New York.

“Our team is very excited to assist in the transformation of downtown Fort Lauderdale,” Whitehouse said in a release. “We look forward to offering our assistance to help shape public and private consensus to create a welcoming, vibrant and resilient public area for all to enjoy.”

Whitehouse is joined by executives from groups like AECOM, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and CORE Architecture. They plan to present their findings Friday.