The 435-foot tall glass building shaped like a guitar is hard to miss while driving on the Florida Turnpike in Broward County.
As a monument to the Gibson Les Paul guitar and the growing development in Hollywood, the $1.5 billion dollar expansion of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is the first of its kind in terms of opportunities - and challenges.
The ambitious hotel and casino is set to hire 1,200 full-time, part-time and on-call jobs ahead of the completion of the project, which will include resort amenities like luxury hotel rooms, dining, nightlife, and a live performance venue.
Greater Hollywood Chamber of Commerce CEO Anne Hotte says she's excited about the prospect of new jobs and the economic stimulation at large for her city that will result from the expansion.
“[The expansion] is the only one in the world that will be like that,” Hotte said. “It will bring Hollywood on the map and it will make us even more attractive than ever. I’m super excited about having them.”
Yet Hotte said that Hollywood’s low unemployment rate will mean workers have to come from elsewhere in South Florida and the need for workforce housing, which will spring with the new jobs, can be a potential obstacle faced by both the city and Hard Rock.
She said that possible routes which may be taken by the city of Hollywood include interlocal agreement funds reserved for financing workforce housing. Hotte also said she hopes that Broward County’s elected officials effort to provide affordable housing will coincide with providing lodging for the future workers of the hotel and casino. Since South Florida’s housing affordability crisis continues to be among the worst in the nation, this may prove to be challenging.
This worry is shared by Adrian Madriz, a housing organizer at the Miami Workers Center, a labor organizing center who advocates for low-income women of color, whom he said typically make up a majority of the service and retail industry jobs that the expansion will be hiring for.
“If they’re going to be employing people in Hollywood but bringing them from Miami, they really should be a commitment on their part to include workforce housing as part of the development,” Madriz said.
Beyond the need for housing, Madriz is concerned for the hotel committing to a living wage and career advancement opportunities for their coming workers, as well about the gentrifying effects it could have on the neighborhood.
“There should be a commitment on Hard Rock’s part to recognize that these are the developments that lead to displacement,” Madriz added. “They should make sure that there’s going to be additional investment towards keeping people in the neighborhood."
The coming jobs present an opportunity to hire South Florida’s immigrant workforce, which the hotel and casino has already done through hiring over 2000 construction workers to build expansion, like Luis Castillo, who is a Nicaraguan immigrant and says that virtually all of those workers are immigrants from Latin America.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for those who weren’t born here,” Castillo said.
He looks forward to the new jobs in the expansion going to immigrants like him and said that it would even be “a little selfish that all those jobs go to Americans.”