Fort Lauderdale’s $21 million parking garage seen as dramatic gateway to the beach

An eye-catching parking garage planned on the beach comes with an eye-catching price.

The five-level structure at the base of the Las Olas Boulevard bridge will cost almost $21 million, or $31,460 per parking space.

By comparison, the 2016 Miami-area average is $16,600 a space, according to national parking consultant Carl Walker Inc. The Broward County Courthouse garage came in at around $18,487 a space, and a 1,000-space Rick Case dealership garage in Davie cost about $17,155 a space, said Paul Kissinger, who heads up the EDSA architectural firm team of Fort Lauderdale, which designed the new beach garage.

Kissinger said the city's garage, which will begin construction in March, will be dramatically different from those two. It will be part of a growing urban trend of turning traditionally drab parking places into stunning architectural statements.

The goal is to create a signature entranceway to the beach and spur upscale redevelopment. The garage is part of a larger $49.4 million beach project that when completed in two years will create a promenade and two new parks along Las Olas Boulevard.

Commissioner Bruce Roberts said the extras are worth the money to give the building a “wow” factor.

"We want to make it aesthetically pleasing to the immediate neighborhood, but also to people who visit the beach," Roberts said. "I think the lighting is going to set it apart from everything else, quite frankly."

Miami Beach already has made a name for itself with its "starchitectural" mixed-use garages — including the $65 million, 300-space, 1111 Lincoln Road garage designed by Herzog & de Meuron.

Pompano Beach last year completed an iconic $19.9 million beach garage, featuring LED-lit sails around its exterior, a three-story fish mural and a glass elevator overlooking the ocean. It cost $32,705 per space — more than what Fort Lauderdale is planning.

Kissinger said Fort Lauderdale's top-floor event deck contributes to its high cost. It needs extra structural support and takes away room for at least 40 parking spaces that could have further reduced the per space cost, he said.

Beach resident Abby Laughlin said the city is doing the right thing.

"I think we're going to have a beautiful structure. Architecturally pleasing is something that's been missing from our vocabulary for a long, long time," she said.

The garage, which should take about a year to complete, is being paid for with beach improvement tax dollars that cannot be used for routine repairs or to simply replace aging pipes.

The Las Olas corridor project is being done in two phases. During the garage construction, the city's nearby surface parking lots will continue to operate. Once the garage is open, then the current oceanside lot and the one on the south side of Las Olas bridge will be closed and construction will begin on turning them into a plaza and a park.

While the city will have fewer beach parking spaces than it does today when the project is complete, commissioners are planning to add parking to other areas of the beach to spread out availability. They have approved a land swap that will allow the city to open a State Road A1A surface parking lot south of Sunrise Boulevard.

Read complete story as originally published in the Sun Sentinel
Contact Reporter: By Larry Barszewski

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