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Not long ago, Northeast 13th Street in Fort Lauderdale was just a way for Scott Warsaw to cut through to Federal Highway. Now, as the co-owner of local coffee destination Warsaw Coffee, he’s one of the business owners responsible for helping to revitalize the street’s business corridor.
Warsaw originally planned to open his popular industrial-style coffee shop in Flagler Village. But when that location didn’t pan out, he sought out an alternative.
That’s when he found his current space on Northeast 13th Street’s commercial portion, a half-mile stretch that runs west from Northeast 12th Avenue to Northeast 4th. Warsaw Coffee has been operating there since March 2015.
“It’s such a great corridor because it gets a lot of traffic,” he said. “I love that area.”
And as the city of Fort Lauderdale reduces the street’s car lanes from four to two—in order to widen sidewalks, add new landscaping and make it more pedestrian-friendly—local businesspeople expect the area will only get better.
“There’s a lot going on [on] that street, and I feel like we’re going to be at the start of that,” Warsaw said.
Warsaw loves the location so much, in fact, that he’s opening Milk Money, a craft beer bar, in the same building.
“We’re hoping to open that up maybe at our two-year anniversary (March 29),” he said. “We couldn’t be happier.”
Others have since followed suit and now occupy the same building as Warsaw Coffee, including Buck & Beard Barbershop, House of Art Gallery, and Urbanity Boutique.
On the other side of the railroad tracks, Gulf Stream Brewing Company is set to open in April. Co-owners McKay Ferrell and Ty Eriks looked at other locations from Pompano to Boca before deciding on Northeast 13th Street, and they say they’re also excited about the changes to come.
“They’re bringing bike lanes and off-street parking. It felt like a really great fit,” Ferrell said. “We really see that as an awesome up-and-coming area.”
Warsaw Coffee’s customers are also the kind of customers that frequent local breweries, Ferrell added.
“It’s definitely the right market for us, the right demographic. But the general feel of the neighborhood, that was a big draw. That whole area … that proximity to Flagler. We just wanted to be a part of that,” he said.
Northeast 13th Street’s proximity to Flagler is a big part of the reason the area is progressing. After the surrounding neighborhoods went through their own booms, it was time for Northeast 13th to have its own renaissance, said Justin Greenbaum, vice chair of the Central City CRA Advisory Board.
The Central City CRA is a 344-acre community redevelopment area that includes Northeast 13th Street. Its boundaries are Northeast 13th and Northeast 16th Street on the north, Sunrise Boulevard on the south, Powerline Road and I-95 on the west, and the Florida East Coast Railway on the east.
The city’s goals for establishing the CRA included reducing blight, improving housing, and attracting new businesses and jobs.
“We want a higher caliber of tenant. … We’re still an affordable option compared to a lot of the surrounding areas,” Greenbaum said. “Geography is why we’ve seen somewhat of a renaissance.”
To help push this transformation forward, Fort Lauderdale officials have embarked on the NE 13th Street Complete Streets Project. When it’s all completed, the street will go from having four to two lanes and will include on-street parking spaces.
Sidewalks will be widened, and bike lanes and additional trees and landscaping will be added. The improvements will be made from Northeast 9th Avenue to Northeast 4th. Construction is expected to be complete by May or June of this year.
The project is being funded by a $1.5 million grant from the Broward County Housing Finance and Community Development Division. The city also provided $310,000 from storm water funds and $60,000 in Business Community Investment Plan funds.
But for the street to really reach its full potential, Greenbaum said it must be rezoned to allow for greater density and more residential development. To that end, he said, the Central City Redevelopment Advisory Board is looking to hire a consultant to make recommendations on how to do this.
“As Flagler Village gets built out, we are the logical area to see additional new residential development,” he said.
With all these newcomers to the area, men’s clothing store Pride Factory has stood in its same location on Northeast 13th Street for 11 years.
Lori Deak, vice president of the retail store, said she has seen “new life” breathed into the quiet street.
“It’s definitely not been a booming area,” she said. “I think the renovation is going to provide additional interest.”
As the city of Fort Lauderdale reduces Northeast 13th Street’s car lanes from four to two—in order to widen sidewalks, add new landscaping and make it more pedestrian-friendly—local businesspeople expect the area will only get better.