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Meet 3 Millennials Changing Fort Lauderdale’s Skyline

Fort Lauderdale is growing—both in population size and skyline. Numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau show the Miami-Dade/Broward/Palm Beach metropolitan area is the eighth-most populated city in the nation, reaching a count of six million people; and the state estimates that more than 2.1 million people will call Broward County home by the year 2040. 

As the demand for housing increases with the influx of people moving to South Florida, a new group of developers are leading Fort Lauderdale’s future as the city innovates and evolves.

Ryan Shear, principal of Property Markets Group; Jeff Burns, CEO of Affiliated Development; and Jake Wurzak, president of Wurzak Hotel Group and managing partner of DoveHill Capital Management, are three South Florida developers working on projects that will effect the Riverfront, the downtown area and living options for locals. They’re young and innovative builders who are putting a modern twist on the city. 

The Developer: Ryan Shear, 34 Years Old

Photo courtesy of Property Markets Group

The Project: X Las Olas, A Luxury Apartment Community Located at 300 SW First Ave. 

Opening: 2020

Rendering courtesy of Property Markets Group

What is your main goal for the future of the Riverfront? 

Everyone remembers Riverfront as this super active place, a destination to go out. We’re taking that as a foundation and recreating it and building a lot of apartments above it. 

What aspects of the Riverfront do you hope to maintain while making new developments?

That it’s always active; that you never see a dead retail corridor there. It has to be somewhere people are like, ‘Hey, I’m going out to Riverfront.’ I don’t really think it’s losing that identity. 

You’re building two apartment towers on the Riverfront—there’s one currently being built and another planned to go up in the next four years. What will they give Fort Lauderdale residents that other apartment in the area don’t offer?

This will be more attainable rent because they are smaller sized apartments. We’ll probably have the biggest social scene—a desire to live and have good restaurants, and experience not just a rental building, but a social building. If you want a building where you know it’s going to be a lot of people, a lot of activity, we’re probably that and I don’t think that exists today in Fort Lauderdale. 

The Developer: Jeff Burns, 35 Years Old 

Photo courtesy of Affiliated Development

The Project: The SIX13, An Affordable Luxury Apartment Complex Located at 613 NW Third Ave.

Opening: Mid-2019 

Rendering courtesy of Affiliated Development

The SIX13 will offer residents affordable housing. How is it possible to pair such competitive rates with luxury amenities? 

We’ve been able to obtain public support by way of the $7 million grant through the CRA. It enables us to pass along cost savings to the tenant. 

Why was Sistrunk Boulevard chosen as The SIX13’s location? 

It’s within walking distance to all of the amenities that we have in our city. It’s literally two blocks away from the Brightline train station and we believe it’s right in the path of the natural progression of growth of the city. We believe Fort Lauderdale is going to grow in the northwest direction. 

Is Affiliated Development working on other projects similar to The SIX13?

We’re currently exploring other opportunities to build similar types of projects within the same area. We believe in the area, and we believe in being able to provide reasonably cost-efficient living for people who basically work out here and are being priced out of the market at the moment.

The Developer: Jake Wurzak, 32 Years Old

Photo courtesy of Wurzak Hotel Group

The Project: The Dalmar Hotel Located at 299 N. Federal Highway 

Opening: Summer 2018 

Rendering courtesy of Wurzak Hotel Group

Tell us about the inspiration behind the hotel. 

There’s nothing in Fort Lauderdale that is anything like this. What we’re trying to do is totally shake up what currently exists in the lodging space in Fort Lauderdale and we want to infuse design into what we’re doing, but also make the total hotel very experiential. We have five different food and beverage outlets in the hotel: a rooftop bar, a ground floor restaurant, a coffee shop, a pool bar and a lobby bar. We wanted to do something that no one else is currently doing in Fort Lauderdale that is similar to what’s happening in Miami, New York and Los Angeles. Fort Lauderdale has a really unique resident base and visitor base. It’s very affluent, it’s very cultured, and there’s currently nothing here serving the needs of those people. So that’s ultimately what we’re trying to do and make a really cool and fun hotel.

What will the rooftop bar be like? 

It’s called Sparrow, and it’s on the 25th floor. There’s an indoor-outdoor component. There are two bars. There’s food. The kind of design inside is very retro, throwback old Florida, like a living room. Then outside is the backyard experience, but you’re 25 stories up and you can see clearly to Boca and down to Sunny Isles. The views are incredible up there. 

How do you see the downtown area, Flager Village and surrounding neighborhoods being five years from now? 

I would say it’s very close to what’s going on in Brickell and the design district and Wynwood. Originally, these places were beach destinations, but Fort Lauderdale built up organically because of the airport and because of the robust corporate scene, and then the office market build up downtown. Then you had residential coming in, so now we’re building a hotel. The beach will always be the beach. A lot of the hotels in Fort Lauderdale are across from the beach and for that reason, people like being downtown. In the future I think there will be better restaurants, better retail and a lot of continued apartment development and a live, work, walking community. 

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