The City Commission approved a $9 million agreement with Shiff Construction & Development, Inc on Tuesday, July 5 for the DC Alexander Park Improvement Project. Construction is expected to begin the summer of 2022, and be completed by summer 2023.
Situated at 501 S Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., just east of the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex and International Swimming Hall of Fame, D.C. Alexander Park is the 4th and final phase of the Las Olas Oceanside Parks project, which includes Las Olas Oceanside Park, Las Olas Intracoastal Promenade Park, and the Las Olas Garage with it’s sunset rooftop terrace.
As part of ongoing resilient infrastructure and public realm improvements in Fort Lauderdale, DC Alexander Park repurposes a former parking lot into a vibrant and resilient public space for tourists and residents. The park serves to reinvest in green and resilient infrastructure along the vulnerable shoreline of coastal South Florida. The project “botanizes” the previous asphalt parking lot through the reintegration and interpretation of coastal dune and tropical maritime hardwood hammock ecosystems.
The upland coastal ecosystem includes both vegetated “root” dunes and rubberized surfaces to protect landward investments from storm surge as well as serve as “boundless” playscape. At the perimeter of the park, a re-established hammock serves as a sponge for rainfall and saltwater flooding while providing for passive park recreation and critical habitat development for native fauna.
A ramping dune provides park-goers to experience the elevation changes while moving up to a twenty-five foot cantilevered overlook of the beach and ocean. This cantilevered overlook becomes part of the resilient infrastructure, as well as provides a public art and experiential landscape element. The overlook and corresponding ramp have been designed to create universal accessibility of the site for all users. A coastal plaza to the north creates a shared space to calm traffic and provide a “shade hammock”. The dappled light through the shade hammock creates a dramatic effect using native and indigenous plant species like; Green Buttonwood, Gumbo Limbo and Seagrape.
The new park will be a fitting use for a park that’s named for an early Fort Lauderdale resident who saw the beach’s potential. David Clifford “D.C.” Alexander was, Mayor Trantalis explains, “an early beach developer that was involved in building the original Las Olas Intracoastal Bridge in 1917 and operating the Las Olas Inn.” The land for the park was originally donated to the city by Alexander, as was the land that’s now home to the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex and the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
Alexander’s gift changed Fort Lauderdale. For Mayor Trantalis, the new and modern park space is a way to continue changing and improving oceanfront public spaces in an area where the city’s been busy in recent years.
“We are thrilled,” he says, “to have major projects underway in these areas that will allow people to experience our iconic beach in new ways and create timeless memories for generations to come.”