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Levitt Pavilion Awaits Fort Lauderdale's Approval

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The City of Fort Lauderdale may get a new outdoor concert venue along its riverfront. Levitt Pavilions, a national nonprofit organization, recently selected the city to receive seed funding and technical support to develop a public performing arts space in Esplanade Park.

Levitt Fort Lauderdale would be the ninth such pavilion in the United States, adding to a list of existing and planned venues in places like Los Angeles, Denver and Houston. If built, the outdoor pavilion, with a capacity of 5,000, would host 50 free live music performances and other community activities throughout the year.

Dan Linblade, president and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, participated in early discussions about the feasibility of and interest in bringing such a venue to the city.

“What we found over the years,” he said, “is that this is something that Fort Lauderdale, and the greater Fort Lauderdale area, really yearns for — music, arts, and cultural activities where people can gather at little to no cost and really enjoy each other’s company.”

Sharon Yazowski, executive director of Levitt Pavilions, said she and others at the national organization were impressed by Fort Lauderdale’s commitment to investing in its cultural assets.

“The City of Fort Lauderdale, in its discussions with the national Levitt organization, made a compelling case for how the Levitt program will make a meaningful impact in the community,” she said.

That impact includes bringing more activity and business to the city’s riverfront area, a process that is already underway.

“It’s just a continuation of the activation of our public realm plan for the riverfront area,” said Linblade. “We’ve made so many improvements… hopefully this will add on to that improvement.”

City spokesman Chaz Adams agreed. He said building the concert venue would “give neighbors and visitors another outstanding reason to come downtown and not only visit Esplanade Park but also visit the amenities around it, including the Broward Center, the Museum of Discovery and Science, the History Center."

Adams said that city commissioners had been aware of the discussions between their staff and Levitt Pavilions and are enthusiastic about the city’s selection by the national organization but will still have to weigh the potential benefits and responsibilities that come with developing such a venue. Those responsibilities primarily include maintenance and upkeep of the pavilion. Although a local Friends of Levitt organization will be formed to raise the necessary funds to design, build, and support operations of the pavilion, Adams did not deny that the city could incur costs as well.

City commissioners will be discussing the proposed pavilion at an upcoming commission meeting.

“It could be July, it could be August, but it certainly should be sooner rather than later,” said Adams.