Lauderdale Lakes turning a new leaf

Monique McIntosh

Lauderdale Lakes City Manager Kelvin L. Baker

Major state grants provide push behind city’s development plans

The City of Lauderdale Lakes will undergo a serious uplift, according to city manager, Kelvin L. Baker. Speaking at a recent Town Hall meeting at Lauderdale Lakes City Hall, Baker shared with residents the list of redevelopment plans in the works, following a $15 million grant from the state. With Mayor Barrington Russell and commissioners in attendance, the session also sought suggestions from residents regarding their priorities for the community.

“The sky’s the limit on where the city can go,” said Baker. “But we can only succeed with the commission and residents working together to find what’s best for the community.”

The city’s appearance was clearly at the top of the agenda for residents at the meeting, with many attendees expressing concern about areas of blight. The city in the past few years has been severely cash-strapped servicing debts, including $11.7 million to the Broward Sheriff’s Office. But with the windfall in state grants, and possible more down the pipeline, city leadership hopes to refocus the city on its future.

Among other infrastructural developments, from reinforcing canal embankments to facade improvements, the clear crowning initiative is the development of the Community Redevelopment Agency’s (CRA) Commercial Par, along the long unoccupied property on the south side of Oakland Park Boulevard and NW 31st Ave. Proposals have offered a pedestrian-friendly, mixed residential and commercial space, providing a communal hotspot for residents.

“The CRA project is design to create an opportunity to transform a blighted area,” says Mayor Russell. “It’s a great initiatives pushing the city to the forefront of development.”

With full funding still in pending and negotiations over the site’s design still in the works, plans for the landmark property are far from being finalized. But whatever the results, says Baker, the new property will carefully fulfill the strategic needs of the city.

One possible priority for the property, says Baker, is a project that would provide “high density growth,” for Lauderdale Lakes’ population, bringing in more people – and more funding – to the city’s coffers. Growing the city’s population from its current 35,000 residents to 50,000 “would make us an entitlement city,” says Baker, “opening a tremendous amount of federal dollars arriving at our doorstep, almost overnight.”

A bigger Lauderdale Lakes, despite its current infrastructural challenges, argues Baker, will be a more affordable one to live in. “The more people you have, the more tax dollars you have at your disposal, therefore allowing us to maintain and develop the city while keeping costs at a reasonable level.”

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