What About Broward? This Less-Popular County Holds Development Opportunities, But Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Have the Spotlight

Despite being the least-popular pick, real estate experts say Broward has many opportunities for growth and development. The question is: can it leverage its unique strengths to its advantage?


South Florida received an explosion of new-to-market residents and tenants during the pandemic, but the majority flocked to Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. That’s resulted in Broward County missing out on much of the attention and influx of wealth that its two neighbors have enjoyed.

But despite being the least-popular pick, real estate experts say Broward has many opportunities for growth and development. The question is: can it leverage its unique strengths to its advantage?

Broward will need to hang tight when it comes to staying competitive with its neighbors, according to Zach Talbot of commercial real estate adviser Cresa Miami.

“Broward County/Fort Lauderdale does not have to try to be Miami or Palm Beach. They have scored a few new-to-market tenants, just not at the velocity that Miami and Palm Beach has over the past two years. In the next cycle we will see some of these new-to-market groups that will relocate from Miami to Broward because it is generally more affordable and very family oriented,” Talbot said.

Talbot said Broward’s biggest value add is its lower costs of living, labor and office rent.

“These items impact the bottom line. The major advantage Broward County has is its central location between Miami and Palm Beach. Companies can attract labor from both neighboring counties,” he said.

Although Broward hasn’t welcomed as many new residents, J.C. de Ona, president of Centennial Bank’s Southeast Florida division, said it’s seeing more new activity than usual among developers and residents.

Broward has benefited from the ease of transportation due to Brightline, a boom of creative hubs such as Fat Village, which is similar to Wynwood, and Fort Lauderdale, especially Las Olas, is bringing in office and residential interest.

De Ona said the more high-rises and developments are built in places such as Hollywood, which is closer to Miami-Dade, the less isolated Broward County becomes.

“I think it becomes attractive for people because it’s not a long trip if you live in Hollywood and work in Brickell. It’s probably just as much of a drive or less of a drive than if you live somewhere out west in Dade County,” he said.

There are several commercial and residential deals in the pipeline for Broward, and Centennial Bank has active loans for projects.

“There’s a lot of growth potential. Broward is just behind the curve when you look at Dade County and Palm Beach, but I think there are value plays there for developers to go in and redevelop,” de Ona said.

Broward Has More Land

Miami-Dade County is also running out of developable land, which means areas in Broward could become more attractive to developers.

“Broward County has some areas that you don’t find in Dade County, such as Southwest Ranches,” de Ona said. ”It’s been attractive and will continue to be attractive to a lot of clientele. There are areas out west that really haven’t been developed much, like in Sunrise, and Plantation grew. I think the outlook is positive. I think that it just doesn’t get as much of the spotlight as Miami-Dade County.”

The way that de Ona sees it, the fact that many businesses are moving to the Miami area isn’t necessarily bad news for Broward.

“Fort Lauderdale is attracting its own companies and satellite offices. There’s nothing wrong with Fort Lauderdale’s office product. Miami is just the shining light and everyone wants to be in Miami. Palm Beach just attracts its own,” he said.

Developing in Broward vs. Miami

There are a few differences between developing in Miami-Dade as opposed to Broward, according to Nelson Stabile, a principal of Integra Investments, which specializes in developing properties across the state in different asset classes.

Integra has developed Bella Vista, an apartment complex in the Lauderdale Lakes submarket of Broward, containing 315 market-rate units. The developer is also behind ArtSquare Hallandale, a 358-unit multifamily community.

“In Broward, we are most often with the county on some issues such as drainage, traffic, etc. Site plan approval from a utility and drainage perspective happens at the county level, but everything else from building permits, and planning and zoning, site plan approvals fall within the jurisdictions of the municipalities,” Stabile said.

Some areas in Miami-Dade are the same way, but there are key differences.

“You do have situations where the city of Miami Beach, city of Miami, Doral, all municipalities within the county have their own departments. In that case, you’re doing less of an interaction of the approvals and the permitting and inspections with the county, but you’re relying a little bit heavier on the municipalities,” Stabile said. “I’d say those are the big differences in where you get your approvals and permits for round-up development.”

Broward and Palm Beach share more of their subcontractor base than Miami-Dade, according to Stabile.

“Not to say that one is better than the other, but if you are a developer working in one county, you can’t just assume that you can go to another. You may not find that all of your subcontractor relationships are going to follow you and develop up north,” Stabile said.

There are also differences in product type, which can determine the demographics of residential and commercial tenants.

“Miami-Dade is probably a bit denser at this point than Broward,” Stabile said. “You also see more products being developed vertically than you do in Broward. In Broward, you can still find larger tracts of land that allow you to build either low-rise or mid-rise developments. Those are a little bit harder to find in Miami-Dade County these days.”

Broward County’s future is likely bright, as de Ona said the area is more affordable with features similar to what Miami offers.

“There are some great intercoastal locations and waterfront locations,” de Ona said. “You’ve also got areas in Victoria Park that are fantastic and a stone’s throw from the core area of downtown Fort Lauderdale.”

This article originally appeared on the Daily Business Review. See it here.