Across from the International Swimming Hall of Fame, the final piece of a years-in-the-making parks puzzle is coming together. DC Alexander Park is part of the Las Olas Oceanside Parks (LOOP) system, a group of four parks and outdoor spaces that in recent years has seen $65m investment and improvements in an effort to bring large, accessible public spaces to the city’s oceanfront main drag. When ongoing work at DC Alexander is done, the LOOP will be complete.
The project is the work of the Fort Lauderdale Beach Community Redevelopment Area.
“It’s really exciting that the project that was started by the CRA well over a decade ago is finally coming to its completion period,” says Arianne Glassman, who the city’s Parks and Recreation department brought in to oversee the four parks’ programming and marketing.
“We are creating a community and a neighborhood within what is widely perceived as the place for visitors,” Glassman says. “Green spaces bring something to an area. The beach is everybody’s back yard. This is our home.”
The LOOP’s other spaces include Las Olas Intracoastal Promenade at the southeast corner of Las Olas and the Intracoastal; Las Olas Oceanside Park, the park at A1A and Las Olas that has become a popular spot for events including film nights, markets, live music and recently, Pixar Putt mini-golf; and the Las Olas Beach Garage Sunset Terrace, an event-suitable public space with a view atop the city’s new parking garage.
The new DC Alexander will have a playground space, something that none of the other three parks have. It will also offer a sweeping, elevated platform where people can view the beach and ocean from a height. That’s not always the way locals get to see the place.
“Us as locals and residents, we’re seeing the beach from ground level,” Glassman says. “Those that are here as visitors, they are looking outside their hotel windows, they are getting a different perspective.”
In that way, it’s similar to another of the LOOP’s more unique features, the green space on top of the parking garage. You don’t normally have public events on top of parking garages – but you don’t normally have park space on top of them either.
“I think this is just going to be another way to get another perspective,” Glassman says.
There have always been big public places to go on or near the beach, Glassman says, including Fort Lauderdale Beach Park and of course, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. But public spaces in the packed heart of the beachfront area with programming that includes regular events for locals to attend? That, she reckons, will be different.
“Having a true park in the hub in the heart of Fort Lauderdale Beach, right at Las Olas, it’s unique,” she says. The bars, restaurants, International Swimming Hall of Fame – “and in the middle of it, you have green space. It’s like the last piece of that whole area.”