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As Fort Lauderdale leaders push for a cultural venue, some want to see a park at the 'One Stop Shop' site

Leann Barbers stands in a grassy field with a tree behind her and a flag hangs nearby with painted-on flowers
Caitie Switalski Muñoz
/
WLRN
Leann Barber, Flagler Village Civic Association President, has been protesting the P3, or public-private partnership.

Residents of the Flagler Village neighborhood have been advocating for years that the city make the parcel of land called the 'One Stop Shop' a neighborhood park. Instead the city commission is working on finalizing a public-private-partnership on the land to bring a cultural venue and a market to the land, in addition to public space.

This post has been updated.

Looking northwest, catty corner from Fort Lauderdale City Hall, there's a fenced-in plot of land that used to be the old building department for the city.

"It was called the 'one stop shop' because it was the place you could go and get all your permits," Leann Barber said.

Barber lives in Flagler Village and is the civic association president. She's been protesting the public-private-partnership that the city's working on with a developer.

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"We want a place. We want a nature trail. You know, we want to have a lot more wooded — kind of a urban wooded area. But with children's playground area, you know, and it's dog walking area, all those kinds of things," Barber said."One of the biggest issues about this land is it's going to be open container." 

People who live in downtown Fort Lauderdale have been negotiating what the future looks like for a little more than three acres of public land.

Some residents want a quiet neighborhood park, while the city commission pursues a plan for a developer to open a cultural center and a marketplace.

"You will not have to buy a $12 glass of wine to walk through," said Commissioner Steve Glassman.

Glassman is the city commissioner who represents this district in Fort Lauderdale. He told WLRN the majority of the land will be a park and he believes the buildings will have public benefit.

"I think the restaurant here in the marketplace building spilling out onto the first floor of the park, indoor, outdoor, that, to me, is going to be like a 'Tavern on the Green' concept in New York City," said Glassman. "So, you know, we're still finalizing a lot of these details, but I'm going to promise you that when this when this park is open, people are going to look at it and enjoy it and say, 'Wow, this is fabulous.'"

The comprehensive agreement is still getting finalized between the city and the businessman behind Revolution Live and America's Backyard. Not everything's in writing yet.

"This is going to be a place that's accessible to the public," Glassman continued. "So there are some rumors around or there are some people implying that, 'Oh my gosh, everyone's going to be thrown out. And this is just going to be a private place for a private party and for adults only.' And none of that is true. None of that will happen."

But, ultimately, Glassman can't make any guarantees.

"If that does happen somehow and violates the comprehensive agreement, then we need to change the comprehensive agreement. Remember, the city is licensing the management of this site to to a private entity, but that doesn't mean that the city is giving up control of the site," he said.

The city is utilizing more of these public-private-partnership agreements to get amenities built around the city, including renovating Holiday Park with the Florida Panthers and redoing Lockhart Stadium with InterMiami CF. The Lockhart Stadium deal still hasn't seen a promised park come to fruition.

Glassman argued that disappointment won't happen in the Flagler Village deal.

"I think that was a whole different set of circumstances, but it's OK that that comprehensive agreement is still good because it still gives it another year on the agreement from where we are now, to finish that site," said Glassman. "And the commission will finish that site and we will have a park there and we will have other amenities there and we're going to get that done. But again, these public-private partnerships, if they're done correctly, can be obviously a benefit not just to the applicant, but the public at large. And save an amazing, amazing amount of money for the taxpayer in the process."

Glassman said the city commission expects to vote on the fate of the "One Stop Shop" by the end of November. The city is holding regular commission meetings Nov. 2 and Nov. 16.

But, that's not the end. If the agreement gets approved, Glassman estimates the groundbreaking is still about a year to a year and a half away.

"There's a lot of public input still left to come and a lot of detail and a lot of refining still left to come," he said. "And that is the process that will happen."

Barber remains nervous about the prospect of empty promises.

She said she feels Glassman has been open to incorporating the neighborhood's ideas but she is still opposed to building two attractions in the park, whatever kind of park it may turn out to be. She worries about so many people being attracted to what she believes should be a community gathering space for a dense area of Fort Lauderdale that's mostly populated by renters.

"It's such a lost opportunity," Barber said. "We could be building community here. This is really the intersection of our Black and white neighborhoods ... and instead we get some guy coming in and saying, you know, 'Give me your land and I'm going to have a great time with it.'" 

She added that her process to fight the development also isn't over yet.

"We're going to continue to protest and, what we find is, we coud continue to oppose it," she said. "What we have asked for is, at a minimum, a carve out of the land so that that some of it would be public, or treated like public, that would follow park rules."

IMG_6665.jpg
Caitie Switalski Muñoz
/
WLRN
A banyon tree inside the fenced area of the land known as the 'One Stop Shop.'

This post was updated to correct a quote from Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Steve Glassman. The quote previously said "plaque" when Glassman said "park."