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Roundup 6-9-2017

June 9, 2017

Contents

Transportation – The Beat Goes On

– Building for the Future, the Editorial

– Time to Rearrange

— One More Thing

International Trade – A Plan-ish

Downtown – Dealing With Popularity

Downtown – Park Tower

Tampa Heights – More Money

South Tampa – Looking at the Condo Market

Transportation – R.I.P.

Rays – Well, Yes, But . . .

Tourism/Sports – The Cost of a Super Bowl

Meanwhile, In the Rest of Florida

Competition Never Ends, Part I

Competition Never Ends, Part II

Competition Never Ends, Part III

— Adventures in Economic Development

Because It’s There

____________________________________

Transportation – The Beat Goes On

– Building for the Future, the Editorial

The Times had another editorial about transit this week.  The main point:

Still, the foresight shown more than a decade ago in acknowledging there might be a different future for transportation is instructive today as Hillsborough County undertakes a 10-year, $812 million transportation plan heavily focused on road work.

The plan is a stopgap measure approved in March by county commissioners desperate to show they have done something about a transportation system they should be ashamed of. The 6-1 vote came on the heels of yet another scuttled attempt to adopt some form of comprehensive transportation plan that includes mass transit.

So yes, the new plan is a roads plan. But it need not be just a roads plan.

There’s little chance of carving out another 20-foot corridor for the dreams of tomorrow — alongside, say, Lithia Pinecrest Road, where a widening project would eat up some $100 million of the $812 million pot of money.

But roads also carry buses, the cost-effective workhorses of mass transit, and roads can be designed with buses in mind. Hillsborough County has precious few of them now but those shame-faced commissioners have acknowledged that the day is coming when the county will have to make a sizeable investment in buses and other forms of mass transit.

And that is good, as far as it goes.  But first, it is mostly about buses.  Yes, our bus service is woefully inadequate and needs to get much better.  And, yes, it is fine to plan for the future and build in the ability to run buses on widened roads, but buses get stuck in traffic just like cars, unless you build dedicated lanes. (And there is a limit to widening roads, especially if you want them to be useful for transit usage and the people who walk to and from transit.) But there is a bigger point, and that comes up in the example the Times uses for forward thinking:

Make no mistake, it’s mainly about the cars and trucks, but the new, wider Bruce B. Downs Boulevard was actually designed with light-rail in mind.

That’s hard to believe in a county where even whispering the term today is guaranteed to sink any proposal for alternatives to the prevailing one car, one-driver model.

But there it is, on the early proposals for Hillsborough’s biggest current road project — a 20-foot corridor where a Power Point dreamer dropped in photos of the sleek train cars from those other metropolitan areas that have embraced light rail.

Transportation officials confirm the corridor is still there, largely a sodded strip, as work proceeds toward a conclusion late next year for the $140 million road project — eight-laning Bruce B. Downs in four phases from Bearss Boulevard north through New Tampa to the Pasco County line. 

Setting aside that right now there is no sign any light rail will be built anywhere in the area, Bruce B. Downs the road may have been designed with space to build light-rail in the corridor, but Bruce B. Downs was not built for light rail, or even buses.  Bruce B. Downs is the very definition of a sprawling mess.  You can see some typical aerial views here, here, and here.  You can run all the transit you like down Bruce B. Downs, and it will not change the fact that there is no way to reasonably walk anywhere on that road or to any destination near the road (including houses).  Sure, a park and ride lot would work (and there is ample empty space to build one), but having any other kind of transit, even if buses drove into a strip mall parking lot, is essentially useless there. It lacks density, organization, walkability (you can walk but you won’t get anywhere), connectivity, etc.  You would need main buses and circulators of the sprawling neighborhoods off Bruce B. Downs.  None of which would be efficient.

And that is a major part of the problem with how this area generally.  For whatever reason, there is a disconnect between planning, design, and transportation.  They need to be coordinated and rational.  We would not favor spending a large amount of money on transit on Bruce B. Downs before many other more established areas that are far less sprawling (including even Dale Mabry into Carrollwood or into parts of Town and Country not because we don’t like transit but because it just makes no sense unless it is a park and ride, but even then its utility is limited by the fact that the area is so poorly planned that there are bottlenecks everywhere).

Once again, we get the point the Times is trying to make (as far as it goes).  Planning ahead is good.  And transportation ideas should be included in planning and design so they can be implemented when needed.  You should build for future possibilities.  But in New Tampa/Wesley Chapel, land for transit may have been set aside, but the development was not built for any possibility other than driving.  And there is no indication that any lessons in good planning were learned. (Not to mention relying on just buses is problematic.)

And while most of New Tampa is actually in the City, the editorial is aimed mostly at the County road plan.  While the main idea of changing how the roads are built is ok and planners may get the main ideas, the County government itself shows few, if any, signs, of changing the way things along the roads are actually built.  Without that, little will change.

The reality is that the example used by the Times is exactly the exemplar of what not to do to properly execute their main idea.

– Time to Rearrange

Speaking of buses, HART, Hillsborough County’s chronically underfunded bus system, is facing some tough decisions.

Pending public hearings and board review, the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority will roll out 34 routes in October, down from the existing 41. Some of the routes will be new, some will stay the same and others will be truncated, altered or combined.

While the number of routes is shrinking, HART CEO Katharine Eagan said overall service should improve. The agency is increasing the frequency along many routes and also is straightening out some of the paths, so they’re less winding and circuitous. The changes should reduce travel time for most riders and make the system more reliable.

Given its lack of resources and the inherent lack of attractiveness of a system with low frequency, we understand these proposed changes.

Bus agencies across the country are seeing a decline in ridership. But for HART, the cause for concern is even greater. HART receives less tax support than similar agencies in most major cities, meaning it’s hit harder by the decrease in fare box revenue. It’s also struggling with the rising cost of health care, which will cost HART about $4 million more next year.

Note: bus ridership, except in Houston and Seattle which radically redesigned their bus systems, is generally down (though rail ridership would be up, but for stupidity in the DC metro system. probably because rail is much more attractive to choice riders. More generally see here.)

Even if HART didn’t make any changes, it would cost the agency an additional $13 million to operate in the next fiscal year.

It’s money the cash-strapped agency — which spends almost the same per person on transit as Sheboygan, Wis. — doesn’t have.

While HART officials are focusing on the positives — they say about 80 percent of riders will see more frequent service and faster connections — there’s no denying the motivation behind the change is one of fiscal necessity, if not desperation.

“If we don’t change this budgetary footprint, we will run out of money,” Eagan said. “We will shut our doors.”

And because of its limited sources of funding — it’s almost entirely dependent on property taxes — it doesn’t have the protection of agencies in other cities that can tap into sales or gas tax revenue.

“It’s a different universe than our peers in Dallas or Charlotte or elsewhere,” Eagan said. “Other systems have been able to make investments we haven’t been able to. We’ve had to be creative.”

So what does that mean?

In this case, creative means stripping away routes with low ridership so the agency can afford to bulk up service on the routes with greater demand.

It also means redrawing the map and changing the focal points. As it stands now, the system is very centered on getting riders to downtown, Sandusky said. That will change with the new routes, which amp up connections to the airport, the University of South Florida area and Brandon.

A staff presentation described the current network as “thin, overextended.” The new system will be more condensed and gridlike, Sandusky said. Many of the routes also will run more frequently, he said. For example, currently HART only operates one bus on 15-minute intervals. That route — the MetroRapid along Nebraska Avenue — will increase to every 12 minutes, while Routes 1, 12 and 34 — which run along Florida Avenue, 22nd Street and Hillsborough Avenue — will bump up to every 15 minutes from no more frequently than every 20 minutes.

These increased and more streamlined routes come at a cost, and several others will be cut to make way. For example, Route 2, which also runs along Nebraska, will merge with MetroRapid, serving fewer stops but at a greater frequency. A quick scan of the two systems side by side shows gaps along the periphery of the county, such as in Town ‘N Country, Carrollwood and southern Hillsborough.

The cuts don’t stop with routes. Eagan said staff cuts are expected but did not say how many.

Here are some maps (just as an aside, note the lack of Town and Country service – among other locations – in both plans.  We would think there would potential there):

From the Times – click on picture for article

The circumstance also has HART at least considering a millage increase, though how serious that is a question.

Once again, we get the changes and streamlining the system to improve more popular routes is as a rational response to the situation.  The real question is whether we are ever going to have proper funding and proper infrastructure. (Not to mention that if buses are so unfavored, will express buses do any better?)  The challenge of all transit is to get choice riders.  We don’t expect HART to get too many choice riders any time soon, given its lack of funding leading to not really providing service attractive to choice riders (would you really want to choose this experience?).   But without really addressing the sorry state of transit generally (and getting people off roads – including buses), do not expect and solid solution to congestion any time soon.

And without the possibility that transit will actually be improved, the Times’ idea above, while generally theoretically sound (as far as it goes), will remain practically irrelevant.

— One More Thing

As an aside, FDOT has a new boss.

Gov. Rick Scott named Florida Department of Transportation Chief of Staff Michael Dew as the agency’s next secretary, four months after former Jim Boxold resigned the post to work as a lobbyist for Capital City Consulting.

* * *

Dew served as DOT chief of staff since January 2015. He was formerly the chief of staff for the Florida Department of Corrections. Prior to that, he worked on political campaigns for George Bush and John McCain. He received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Ohio State University.

It is not clear what effect, if any, the change will have on TB(n)X.  We shall just have to see.

International Trade – A Plan-ish

While this did not appear to be widely covered, the Tampa Bay Export Alliance (basically a group of local economic development officials, see here), in conjunction with Brookings, released a plan:

. . . the Tampa Bay Export Alliance announced the launch of the Global Tampa Bay Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Plan, a regional global investment plan that outlines specific steps that local business, civic, and government leaders can take to leverage foreign direct investment to foster global engagement. This strategy is an integral stage of Tampa Bay’s participation in the Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase. The final plan integrates lessons learned from previous GCI endeavors including an initial market assessment followed by export and foreign direct investment strategies.

The press release (and, as far as we can tell, the Export Alliance website) did not link to the report, but it did tell us this:

Some of the key findings from the market assessment which best informed the strategies outlined in the plan include: 

-A significant amount of FDI activity is driven by an existing connection to the region

-Tampa Bay is exhibiting clustering behavior in the financial, professional and shared services industry 

-Foreign owned companies are not immune to the workforce and transportation challenges facing the region

-Tampa Bay needs a globally competitive brand identity and a comprehensive regional marketing effort to be recognized as a top business destination

None of which is new.  There was no indication that we are attracting a lot of new FDI from new sources. We knew that our clusters are more in lower wage back office operations not headquarters, tech, manufacturing, etc. (While all new jobs are useful, we thought a major point of present efforts was to broaden the economy into higher wage industries.)  We knew that our limitation of transportation affects everything.  And we knew that the quest for a brand goes on.  One acknowledgement that is interesting is the vaguely mentioned workforce “challenge.” We keep hearing that we have a great workforce.  What is the limitation?

In any event, since we do not have the plan, it is hard to know what it proposes we do about the issues above.  We hope it is something new.  We have had these issues for a long time.  We need new ideas.

Downtown – Dealing With Popularity

The Times had another article about the Straz and parking:

When the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts opened 30 years ago, it welcomed just 30,000 patrons its first year.

These days, the Straz Center gets more than 600,000 patrons annually — but no new parking spaces have been added nearby. To the contrary, an apartment complex now under construction has gobbled up 500 spaces long used by concertgoers.

* * *

As the Straz Center’s patronage has grown, so have weekend and night-time crowds on the Riverwalk, at Amalie Arena, the Tampa Convention Center, at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, at the Tampa Museum of Art and at the Glazer Children’s Museum.

The result has been evenings like Feb. 14. That night the Straz Center held the curtain for Wicked to accommodate late-arriving ticket holders who were caught in heavy traffic or looking for parking.

But even 20 minutes into the scheduled show time, 547 people had not been able to get to their seats.

People wanting to do things downtown is good.  Inaccessibility is bad, though it is not just the Straz.  It is just that Straz complaints point to a larger issue. Often it seems that downtown is just not ready to handle the people who want to be there.  And, in reality, right now, often it isn’t.  When you try to put a lot of people into a small area, the best way to do it is without their cars.  Since we don’t really have that option on a large scale, there will be problems.  Still, you have to try to deal with what you have:

It also has spurred the leadership of the performing arts center to put together a task force with the city and its own transportation and parking consultants. They are looking for short-term solutions that could be ready by November, when the facility’s busy season begins, as well as long-term solutions.

The problem is not only a loss of spaces to development, the task force concluded. Neither the city’s William F. Poe Garage nor the Royal Regional Lot were set up to handle event parking. The Royal lot, about 0.3 miles northeast of the Straz Center, has just one parking pay station for 315 spaces, forcing patrons to line up to pay for a spot.

Along with adding more pay stations — or maybe even employees — at the Royal lot, other possible solutions discussed Thursday include:

Council members asked for reports on June 22 from the city’s parking, transportation, police and economic development offices about what steps can be taken to address the problem, plus a June 15 report from the city’s chief financial officer on whether the parking division could afford to expand its inventory.

Setting aside that the Straz is not necessarily in the best location for large crowds (you have to work with what you have), those ideas could all help, but will not remove the issue.  Nor is it clear why the Poe Garage, which is connected to the Straz, is not set up for event parking.  In any event, this could help:

Already, the city plans to pave the old Morgan Street jail site to create more than 300 parking spaces, said Bob McDonaugh, the city’s top development official. Also, the garage for the new Crescent Communities apartments next to the Barrymore Hotel is expected to be finished this fall and to provide some parking to Straz patrons. And the city is looking at a cooperative venture that could end up adding structured parking at the Royal lot.

But the problem will remain, especially as downtown becomes more popular (and especially if the Lightning owner’s project gets built out and with the road diets everywhere). And things like expanding the interstate or express lanes will not solve it either.  Simply getting more cars to downtown will not solve what to do with them when they get there.  There has to be (and there is) a way to deal with it.  It’s just that we don’t have it – it is called transit (and not just to Tampa Heights), preferably not in road ways.

The chairman of the Straz Center’s board of trustees told the council that the city and center need to get to work to ensure they can address the challenges within the next couple of years.

Both the Straz Center and the city have grown and prospered over the past 30 years, Gary Sasso said, and “this is a good problem to have.”

“But growth has to be supported by infrastructure,” he said. “Without the necessary infrastructure, we will throttle the very growth we see. . . . We need your help.”

It is something we have said in a slightly different context a number of times, and it is true, both downtown and elsewhere.

Downtown – Park Tower

There was news about Park Tower downtown, a building of which we are quite fond, even if we see some issues with it.

Formerly known as the Lykes Building at 400 N. Tampa St., the 36-story building will undergo a multi-million-dollar renovation which is expected to be completed by early 2018, according to a press release.

* * *

Soon the public will notice changes in the 475,000-square-foot building’s facade. Park Tower will be painted a lighter color, a new entrance will be constructed and it will feature a “light box” that will illuminate the office tower against Tampa’s Riverfront skyline. Building amenities will also be upgraded, including a renovation of the lobby. Other renovations include adding a cafe to the lobby, a 6th floor “chill zone” tenant lounge, a new fitness center and yoga room with spin bikes, new shared tenant conference rooms and an updated parking garage.

Looking like this:

From the Business Journal – click on picture for article

Setting aside that the rendering has distorted the Bank of America building (including chopping off the bottom few floors), we get that some people don’t like Park Tower’s present color.

From the Business Journal – click on picture for article

However, we have no problem with it.  First, the building is in an iconic Florida style. (And, as a general caution, often when you try to make an old exterior design style look modern it messes up the old look while failing to look modern.  Downtown is replete with examples, though in other cities some wholesale rebuilding of the façade works.) Second, we like some diversity of styles and colors (and some contrast) in our skyline and, frankly, we see nothing negative in the photo while the rendering looks odd. We doubt it will look more modern, just whiter – and, in a few years, dingy. (Just as an aside this building in Miami is also slated for renovations including removing some 80’s style external “modernizations.”)

Aside from that, we are all for fixing up the entrance and making the street interaction better. (It should be noted that even though older, Park Tower has wide, covered sidewalks and street retail, unlike later office buildings, probably because it was designed to actually be in Florida.)  And we like the big “light box” facing the park which, from the renderings, fits into the present design. We also have no problem with fixing up the interior spaces.  Though we know some will disagree with us (and it is subjective), we just don’t like the proposed paint job, which seems more like change for the sake of change.

Tampa Heights – More Money

We like the vast majority of the Heights project.  The first part of it to start was the Armature Works building, which has seemed to drag on a bit.  Now,

Florida Community Loan Fund has provided the last part of the funding required for Armature Works, a historic building north of downtown Tampa that’s being renovated into an events venue, food hall and co-working space for small businesses.

The funding comes from New Markets Tax Credits, a program that provides incentives for economic development through the use of tax credits that attract private investment to distressed communities, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Florida Community Loan Fund, a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution, provided $20 million in tax credits for the 68,000-square-foot Armature Works, which is being developed by SoHo Capital and has a total project cost of $21 million.

Financing is good.  Finishing is better.  Hopefully, they will get it done soon (This says it will be this summer. ).  Meanwhile, the Pearl is coming along nicely and starting to make Tampa Heights stick out a bit.

South Tampa – Looking at the Condo Market

There was news about the Virage condo project on Bayshore.

More than half of the units — including a penthouse priced at nearly $5 million — are under contract in Tampa’s newest proposed condo tower, Virage.

* * *

So far buyers have contracted for about $60 million worth of units, including the 6,700-square-foot penthouse that could be Tampa’s priciest condo in a decade if the sale goes through. Still remaining are the second penthouse and units starting at just over $1 million. Sales to date have pushed the 24-story Virage “fairly close” to the amount needed to begin construction, probably this fall, Tallman said.

There are not many condo projects in Tampa right now.  This apparent demand indicates maybe there should be more.

Transportation – R.I.P.

This week, it became official:

Among the bills Governor Rick Scott signed into law on Tuesday is HB 647, which eliminates of the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission by December 31 of this year.

It is welcome and well overdue.

Rays – Well, Yes, But . . .

Everyone knows the Rays are looking for a new home and a major issue is paying for the stadium.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan wants to model a new baseball stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays after SunTrust Park outside of Atlanta, the new home of the Braves.

“It’s the perfect model for what we’re trying to do here,” Hagan said in an interview with Sports Talk Florida. “[Come up with] a financing plan that the development can help pay.”

The new Braves stadium located in Cobb County cost about $400 million and is part of a much larger development. Seven restaurants are already up and running, according to Hagan, who recently visited the site, and there are plans for a total of 20. Residences are popping up; a hotel is in the works and Hagan claims the development’s tax base has tripled as a result.

While generally sound, it is not a groundbreaking idea (and, in all fairness, it is not at all clear that the Commissioner claims it is).  In fact, it is the trend for sports facilities (like the new Red Wings arena, the new Rams stadium, and the new Edmonton Oilers arena. Though, notably, the Braves stadium was built outside of the core of Atlanta)  It is also part of St. Pete’s sales pitch to the Rays for the Tropicana property.  As the article notes, the main focus on Hillsborough right now is the Tampa Bay Park Apartments.  It remains to be seen what can be developed around that site by the Rays themselves, rather than other property owners.  We are not opposed to the idea, but the devil is in the details.

Tourism/Sports – The Cost of a Super Bowl

There was an interesting article in the Times regarding what the NFL demands for a Super Bowl.

The NFL won’t make its demands public, a spokesman told the Tampa Bay Times. The organization in charge of submitting Tampa’s bid won’t, either.

But according to past reports, the list is quite extensive.

Rent-free use of the stadium, 35,000-plus parking spaces and other nearby facilities are a must. In the days leading up to the game, participating hotels must turn over all of their meeting space. For a year, they must keep the NFL Network on all of their TVs. Local governments have to provide security and trash pickup for free and ticket sales can’t be taxed.

The league also has asked for free usage of local golf courses and bowling alleys, a $1 million donation to the charity of the NFL’s choice and its handpicked ATM providers inside the stadium. 

And there is probably more:

In 2014, the Minneapolis Star Tribune obtained and published the NFL’s “Host City Bid Specifications and Requirements” for the 2018 Super Bowl in Minnesota.

The most common refrain in the 153-page document: “at no cost to the NFL.”

In the weeks — even months — before and after the Super Bowl, governments, stadium operators and businesses are expected to provide free of charge dozens of services, facilities and perks for the NFL — a business that reported $13 billion in revenue last year.

Wireless service at the stadium must be “on par with the standards set by the top three NFL stadiums.” Like most requirements, if the stadium doesn’t meet that standard, it has to be upgraded “at no cost to the NFL.” If the stadium’s ATMs are not supplied by a NFL partner, the league may remove or cover them and bring in approved machines before the game.

Cities are expected to provide a concrete barrier up to 16 feet high around the stadium and ensure free parking wherever the NFL sets up shop around town.

The host committee must also reserve three “top-quality” 18-hole golf courses where green and cart fees will be waived for a Super Bowl-related golf tournament, as well as another course for use by the NFL in March following the Super Bowl. Free use of up to two bowling alleys is needed, as well, for an NFL event.

If a hotel is chosen as the league’s Super Bowl headquarters, it must provide “150 complimentary room-nights for pre-event planning trips” in the months leading up to the game. Hotels that host the teams have to offer “exclusive, complimentary use of all meeting function space.”

Meanwhile, the NFL retains 100 percent of the revenue from ticket sales, parking and advertising in and around the stadium. The host committee is required to arrange for all ticket sales to be tax-free, and if it can’t, then the host committee has to reimburse the NFL for any taxes paid.

Among the few expenses the NFL is willing to incur is the cost of utilities at the stadium during the Super Bowl, but not for most events held at other venues. Even the cleanup of the stadium is up to the operator, not the NFL.

It definitely is quite a list. One thing that is not clear is who is paying for it all.  Many of the items on the list involve private businesses.  If they are willing to provide the requests on their own, that is fine with us. Some of it is clearly public money, but the big question is how much?

The sports commission previously bid for Super Bowl LV in 2016 and was unsuccessful. As part of that pitch, the city of Tampa agreed to provide free “public safety, security, fire and medical emergency, traffic, decorative display and public work/street maintenance services and supplies . . . including all planning, training or deployment activities related to the provision of such services.”

Similar services for the 2009 Super Bowl, the fourth and most recent held in Tampa, cost city taxpayers $1.2 million. Some of that was recouped in parking fees.

That was 2009. We are ok with providing some public services.  We expect to have to do that.  We chalk that up as the price of the national/international exposure (think of it as a marketing campaign).  And we know that the NFL isn’t in the business of having to pay for stuff. But, as we said, how much?  It would be nice to know.

Meanwhile, In the Rest of Florida

Competition Never Ends, Part I

Normally, we don’t go into suburban development in other parts of Florida, but something in the lake Nona area south of Orlando (where UCF’s medical school and the “Medical City” are) caught our eye.

Audit, tax, and advisory firm KPMG LLP officially starts work Monday on its $400 million learning and development campus being constructed at Lake Nona in southeast Orlando.

“This campus is our firm’s largest capital investment ever. More than that, it’s an investment in our people,” KPMG Chairman Lynne Doughtie said in a statement.

Spread across 55 acres, the project will emerge through the end of 2019 with site grading commencing this summer followed by foundation work in the fall. Work on the building “superstructure” is scheduled for early next year and buildings are to be fully enclosed by the end of next year.

KPMG named Bill Flemming, who previously oversaw New York-based Skanska USA Building Inc., to oversee the construction. The Gensler group will work on design, sources said.

Fleming expects the facility to qualify for a U.S. Green Building Council LEED certification, although its uncertain what level they would seek.

The KPMG Learning, Development, and Innovation facility, as its being called, will have more than 800,000 square feet of meeting space plus living and entertainment quarters. It centers on a residential design with 800 single-occupancy rooms, eateries, a coffee and wine bar, and a pub-like venue. It is also planned to have a fitness facility, hiking and biking paths, a softball field, and a volleyball court.

From the Orlando Sentinel – click on picture for article

It is sort of a strange combination of resort, convention center and office.  It is also very large (and suburban).  We are not that fond of the Lake Nona area, but we are willing to say it is attracting some big developments.  We also find it interesting that with our “Wall Street South,” financial services operations, this facility went to Orlando.  While we want to diversify our economy, it still would have fit nicely somewhere around here.

Competition Never Ends, Part II

And, in another sign that competition for flights never ends,

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport’s vision of being an international hub is not so distant anymore.

The airport gave a sneak peak of its new five-gate international Southwest Airlines concourse at Terminal 1 on Thursday, just weeks before the concourse is set to open to the public at the end of June.

* * *

In concert with the opening of the new concourse, Southwest is inaugurating four flights from Fort Lauderdale on Sunday to Montego Bay, Jamaica; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; Cancun, Mexico; and Belize City, Belize. The airline is also launching flights to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; San Jose, Puerto Rico [ed. Sun-Sentinel says this is San Jose, Costa Rica at http://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/fl-bz-southwest-adds-more-fll-routes-20170518-story.html]; and Providenciales, Turks and Caicos in November. The Turks and Caicos flights begin at $59 one-way through a deal available through Thursday, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said Thursday at the concourse unveiling.

Southwest is currently working on growing its international presence, and expects Fort Laudedale[sic] to be a launching pad for many of its international flights.

(You can see more in another report here) The fact is that competition for new flights and new connections (and the business they help drive) is constant. We cannot afford to simply sit on our laurels while others work to improve.

Competition Never Ends, Part III

It also applies to ports.

Port Everglades on Tuesday received approval from the Broward County Commission to purchase three new cargo cranes needed to meet growing demands from both existing and new customers as it expands its facility.

The low-profile Super Post Panamax container-handling gantry cranes will cost $13.8 million each or a total of $41.4 million, port officials said in a news release.

County commissioners also approved an option for the seaport to purchase three more cranes within five years of the first order.

* * *

Last month, Port Everglades received unanimous approval from commissioners to begin work on a $437.5 million expansion project that will add new berths for larger cargo ships and install crane rail infrastructure for the new cranes.

The Southport Turning Notch Expansion project will lengthen the existing deep water turn-around area for cargo ships from approximately 900 feet to 2,400 feet to allow for up to five new cargo berths, officials have said.

Not much else to say.

— Adventures in Economic Development

We recently discussed Amazon warehouses around the state (and how they were going to expand in Florida).  Now, there is news of another one:

A new 800,000 square-foot Amazon fulfillment center will become the first tenant at the Carrie Meek International Business Park in Opa-locka.

The online giant unveiled plans for the new center on Wednesday. When completed, it will create 1,000 full-time jobs with benefits and become the company’s tenth center in Florida.

* * *

Amazon already operates a 340,000-square-foot fulfillment and distribution center in Doral.

Enough said.

Because It’s There

Finally, the Tampa forum at skyscrapercity is a great way to get news and discuss development.  This was posted this week by user “ajaksalad” this week showing Channel Club is coming along nicely.

Photo by ajaksalad at skycrapercity – click on picture for skycrapercity post

 

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