Development at Gulfstream Park Approved; Some Changes Made

The Broward County (Florida) Commission has approved plans for the construction of the "Village at Gulfstream Park," but not before the track and development partner Forest City Enterprises agreed to some concessions.

The 6-3 Commission vote will allow the construction of the "Village at Gulfstream Park". The project, with at an estimated cost of $1.2 billion, will include a 750,000 square foot shopping mall, a movie theater seating 2,500, a 500-room hotel, as well as condominiums and office space.

Track President Scott Savin said he hopes construction could begin this year, and the project is estimated to be completed by 2014.

"The Village" will redevelop 64 acres, with the retail space to be incorporated into the racing facility by virtue of an extended walking promenade and decorative water fountains stretching into the walking ring. Gulfstream's newly designed clubhouse was operational for its recently completed 2006 race meet.

The remainder of the construction will take place throughout the track's 200 acres which straddle the Broward and Miami-Dade County borders. Notably, plans call for the hotel to be connected to the clubhouse by a building that will house slot machines.

Among the concessions offered were an agreement to build 225 low- to moderate-income housing units on the property – along with 1,500 upscale condos – and a pledge of $10 million to offset the expected traffic congestion.

Of that, $5.8 million will be spent on public transportation, including a shuttle between the Hollywood Tri-Rail Station and the facility, with the remainder going towards improvements on local roads in the city of Hallandale Beach.

Also conceded was the scope of the project since initial plans called for the size of the cinema and office space to be one third greater and for 910,000 square feet of retail space.

``We continue to believe this is a great project,'' said Will Voegele, Forest City's regional director of development.

Commissioners cited as crucial to their decision to approve the project was the turn out of local citizens, most of whom vociferously supported the project. Among them was Hallandale Beach mayor Joy Cooper, who noted that, with the introduction of slot machines expected later this year, the Village at Gulfstream Park would make her city a tourist destination.

"It's just going to be a shot in the arm for our city and community,'' Cooper said.

When the Commission last considered the project in January, residents of Hallandale Beach and neighboring cities expressed concern about the project and some commissioners worried about the additional traffic. It was decided at that time to postpone a decision on the project pending further review and the opportunity for Forest City to modify its plans.

This time, the developer came prepared with both its revisions and more than 100 supporters who wore t-shirts urging the commission's approval.

"It's clear that the community wants this,'' Broward Commissioner Diana Wasserman-Rubin said in casting her affirmative vote.

The final hurdles before construction can begin are approvals from the City of Hallandale Beach and the regional planning council.