Officials plan new city-county complex
Would replace aging structures in downtown Fort Lauderdale
Broward buses will have to move over in downtown Fort Lauderdale to make room for a new city-county government complex.
County and city officials have chosen the Main Bus Terminal on Broward Boulevard as the location for a joint government building, if financing and other operational details can be worked out.
It would replace two aging structures: City Hall, which was built in the 1960s, and the county governmental center, which has been housed in an old Burdines department store building since 1980. Both buildings are within blocks of the new site.
Negotiators are finalizing the details of an agreement that would have to be approved by both commissions for the project to move forward.
So far, no decisions have been made about how big the building would be and how much it would cost. Officials will also have to decide how it will be financed, with the possibility it could be built by a private developer and leased back to the local governments.
The working idea is for the complex to have a single entrance, with separate floors for city and county offices and possibly separate banks of elevators for each, Assistant County Administrator Alan Cohen said. Some floors and spaces could be shared, he said.
To save room, a parking garage could be built above a redone bus terminal, he said.
The new building would take up about a third of the 3-acre site. It would be placed along Broward Boulevard, with the bus terminal behind it.
The bus terminal currently has more bus bays than needed — even when future growth is considered. Only 18 of the 24 bays are currently used, Cohen said, and that number can be reduced further through improved scheduling.
“We have been working with our transportation department [officials] to make sure they are able to maintain their operations in both the short run and the long run,” Cohen said.
The site is also across the tracks from the new Brightline train terminal. A pedestrian crossover above the tracks could become part of the city-county plan, Cohen said.
City commissioners on Tues-
day supported moving forward with the bus depot site.
City Manager Chris Lagerbloom said it would probably be three to four years before a building could be completed.
Mayor Dean Trantalis said it’s important for the new complex to have a plaza so that its presence on Broward Boulevard will serve as a gateway to the city’s downtown.
Another downtown governmental project is also moving forward, as federal officials prepare to start searching for a home for a new federal courthouse.
A U.S. Senate committee last week approved a prospectus for the federal courthouse, which Downtown Development Authority Director Jenni Morejon said was the last step needed to release the $190 million in federal funding approved last year for the project.
“The next step is for the GSA [General Services Administration] to initiate the site selection process, which typically starts with a public notice to solicit interest from property owners,” Morejon said.
One site that has been discussed is city-owned property, known as the “One Stop Shop” from the days when it was used by the city’s building department, on the west side of Andrews Avenue between Northwest Second and Fourth streets.
Flagler Village residents would like to see the vacant property become a park and Trantalis said an alternate park site would have to be found if the site was chosen for the courthouse.