Dania Beach, Florida
A True Coastal Treasure in South Florida
Offering a lifestyle to be envied, Dania Beach, Florida is one to watch
As Broward County’s first city, incorporated in 1904, Dania Beach is a coastal treasure, steeped in history and beckoning visitors with a unique blend of tradition and modern allure. Situated just south of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Port Everglades, and the Broward County Convention Center, this city of approximately 30,000 residents is rich with welcoming charm, a coastal haven, where sun-soaked beaches meet a thriving cityscape, promising an unforgettable experience for residents and visitors alike.
As a fourth generation resident of the city, Mayor A.J. Ryan recounts, “My family has been here for over 100 years. To be raised here and to work here now as a professional, I would say it’s very unique in the whole South Florida atmosphere. A lot of people when they come to Dania, they don’t even realize what type of city we are. When people think of South Florida, they think of Miami. It’s nice to see people be surprised when they come into our city. We still have that small-town feel, yet we are in the middle of all the action.”
Welcoming Spirit Airlines
Dania Beach is looking forward to the completion of the Spirit Airlines Facility, as the mayor shares, “I would say that it is a win for both the city and for the airlines. I’m not sure if there’s another airline that has a headquarters as close to an international airport, at least in South Florida, as what we just obtained with Spirit Airlines. Their facility is state of the art. It’s suited for the modern employee.”
Dania Pointe, at the heart of Dania Beach, offers a dynamic live-work-play hub for Spirit Airlines employees. The development of new live-and-work units reflects the city’s commitment to providing convenience and quality of life for residents. With an array of amenities, including shopping, entertainment, restaurants, a comedy club, and a movie theater, Dania Pointe creates a vibrant community, ideal for corporate professionals relocating to South Florida.
“There’s everything that they need in that little half a square mile radius in Dania Pointe. So, for someone in the corporate world who had to relocate, say from, New York or Philadelphia, or even from California, they could see the unique qualities that Dania has for an employee of a major corporation, such as Spirit Airlines. They can still find enjoyment in living in South Florida,” Ryan portrays.
Marine Industry and Workforce Development
Dania Beach’s marine industry plays a pivotal role in the city’s economic landscape, serving as a major employer. Mayor Ryan, who also chairs the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), highlights a collaboration with Florida International University, which has launched an incubator program aimed at supporting students and emerging professionals, providing them with space to kickstart their businesses, including ventures in the marine industry.
He acknowledges that Dania Beach is focused on bridging the gap between industry and community and engaging more young people in the marine business.
“When it comes to being technical, actually doing the labor, we have been speaking with the local businesses that we have in the marine industry, to see how we can implement youth into those. It’s bringing the business and the community together because when you drive by a boatyard you don’t know what’s going on, and that’s one of our largest economic producers in the city. It is important that we put more focus on keeping the talent local and finding people to be more interested in that industry.”
The marine opportunities extend to Harbor Towne, a city-owned area leased out to various marine industry companies, and a significant presence in Dania Beach. “Within Harbor Towne, there are multiple marine industry companies, all the way from yacht salesmen, to boating works, to manufacturers, to a cleaning company,” says Ryan.
On the conservation side, he reports on the city’s ongoing initiative to address waterway issues, focusing on clearing derelict vessels and preventing pollution. He conveys, “An initiative I have for the future of our waterways is to have a specific waterway code officer to ensure that these different businesses are following the guidelines as well as residents.”
Investing in Arts, Culture and Recreation
Ryan discusses the city’s vibrant downtown, which is situated in the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) district. Currently, there is a focus on reviving an area known as the Northwest First Street Corridor.
He elaborates, “It runs right in front of City Hall. It runs in front of our women’s club, some of our historical buildings and historical businesses as well as our post office. That’s our main downtown thoroughfare, but on that thoroughfare, there’s going to be new development.”
This development will include the introduction of two new buildings, each over 10 stories tall.
“We will have City Park Place, with mixed-use and workforce housing, and then we will have market-rate rental apartments. That’s going to bring in more residents, more vibrance, and make it more walkable in that downtown area,” he adds.
In collaboration with Calvin Giordano and Associates, the CRA is also spearheading a streetscape renovation, continuing the efforts to create a more appealing and walkable environment in Downtown Dania Beach. “We’ve worked with them before, and we look forward to their future projects with the city as well,” remarks Ryan.
Additionally, the mayor talks about the city’s arts initiative, featuring public works like the Totor Dog sculpture donated by French artist, Stephane Bolongaro. “We put that in front of City Hall just to make it a little more whimsical, a little more appealing,” he remarks.
As for other artistic endeavors he adds, “We have a large four-storey parking garage, and it’s down to three or four artists that we commissioned and we’re going to choose one and they’re going to put an artistic depiction on that wall.”
Through the efforts of Dania Beach’s local historical society, a history walk has also been established throughout the community, adding informational plaques on street poles, which provide insights into significant events and influential individuals who helped in shaping the city’s identity.
Ryan notes that the historical narrative spans from the impact of the 1926 hurricane to the era when Dania was recognized as the tomato capital of the world, along with the women pioneer trailblazers who made important contributions to the community’s development and heritage.
Investing over $55 million in renovations to the city’s three parks, CW Thomas, Frost Park, and P J. Meli, the city of Dania Beach is committed to providing residents and visitors with vibrant outdoor spaces. “Our parks are a big initiative,” Ryan boasts.
“We are adding the main park, with over seven acres in our southeast Dania corridor, where our Olson Middle School used to be, and it’s going to be shared by the school and the community.” Along with these, funds have already been earmarked for the creation of a Veterans Memorial Park, next to Dania Beach City Hall.
Valuable Collaborations and Partnerships
Mayor Ryan emphasizes the significance of collaboration with key entities such as the Port Everglades Association, and the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. “The airport and the cruise port, although we share them with Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood, and the county as well, those are the two biggest economic engines in the county and they’re right in our city. We share territory with them, and our partnership with them is crucial,” Ryan emphasizes.
Memorial Health Care is another vital partner, who have been part of Dania Beach for more than 20 years. “They are moving into a new facility in a little more prominent location on Dania Beach Boulevard and US 1. They offer general health care as well as community initiatives in regards to what the city, as a leader, wants to focus on,” Ryan describes. “Whether it be high blood pressure, or sickle cell anemia, or child obesity, or whatnot, we can reach out to them, and they can give us more of a platform to use. So that’s a positive partnership to have.”
A Vision for the Future
Looking ahead, Ryan outlines the top priorities for Dania Beach including infrastructure upgrades to keep up with a growing population. He mentions increasing the number of first responders, and investing in stormwater drainage, along with continued improvements to the cityscape.
In conclusion, he remarks, “I’m raising the fifth generation here. I have a five-year-old son, and a three year old daughter, I have two dogs. So, I don’t just speak it, I live it too. I care about this community a lot, and I want to preserve it for future generations to enjoy as well.”
AT A GLANCE
Dania Beach, Florida
WHAT: A vibrant city of 32,000
WHERE: Broward County, Florida
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