Bella Vista gets new life in Lauderdale Lakes. New group plans townhouses, condos and retail space.
Key Lauderdale Lakes development that stalled during the recession is ready to get going again.
A project once heralded as key to the city's economic revival — a development that was crushed by the housing collapse and later fell into foreclosure — is ready to rise again.
New owners are breathing life into the planned Bella Vista development on Oakland Park Boulevard east of State Road 7, where none of the commercial space and only 100 of the originally promised 541 residential units have been built.
"There was so much hope when the development came and it looked promising at the time," Mayor Barrington Russell said. He owns property there and is optimistic about "the new upturn."
A joint venture by Integra Investments and Forse Holdings has set up a sales office in the existing clubhouse and plans to begin construction soon on 30 town houses and 124 villas. The units are to be priced between $220,000 and $270,000 and should take about 18 months to complete, officials said.
What that means for the city is a bigger tax base and more residents.
"I'm extremely excited about this project being restarted," said Commissioner Patricia Hawkins-Williams, who heads the city's redevelopment board. "We're growing. We're trying to do what we can to revive our city."
The activity is welcome news to residents who bought there only to see construction stall and property values plummet during the recession. They watched as the development became swamped with renters and have been looking out on acres of vacant land where they had expected to find neighbors and stores.
In retrospect, given the impact of the recession on property values, maybe the construction delay was a good thing, said Gary Rogers, director of the city's redevelopment agency that originally assembled the property and shepherded it through the needed zoning changes.
"I'm just glad more people didn't get hurt," said Rogers, who always had confidence the development would resurface.
"Lauderdale Lakes is like the rest of the country, coming back to life," Rogers said.
The 26.7 acres of vacant land was purchased for $8.25 million in August, according to county property records.
The new developers have taken steps to fix a fountain behind the regional library, which opened in connection with the project in 2010, said Ivan Ramirez, president of Crescendo Real Estate that is marketing the site. They've also repaired and touched up the existing clubhouse, gates, pool and landscaping.
The developers are also putting together plans for the designated open space, which will probably include a dog park, walking trails, benches and possibly a playground, Ramirez said.
A second phase is to include 112 condominiums in four, four-story buildings. A third phase would have another 205 condominiums combined with 15,000 square feet of commercial space along Oakland Park Boulevard.
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