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The Resilient Redesign project was a great opportunity for Dania Beach officials and residents to see the threats that face our community and provide us with a unique view of what our opportunities are. We are very fortunate that so many people, at the local, County and Federal level are beginning to look at these solutions for our community as a whole.
Corrine Lajoie, Principal City Planner

On August 10-13, 2014, regional stakeholders from across Southeast Florida joined Dutch, national and local experts in a collaborative design effort focused on improving community resilience to climate change impacts through innovative design strategies. The four-day event titled “Southeast Florida Resilient Redesign Workshop” was co-hosted by the four County Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Miami chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Miami Center for Architecture and Design. Approximately 50 experts, from the diverse fields of architecture, civil engineering, transportation, urban development, hydrology, environmental planning and hazard preparedness, came together to consider the climate challenges and design opportunities for three representative southeast Florida landscapes, with development characteristics ranging from dense urban to suburban. An area located in the City of Dania Beach was among the study areas.

Teams toured each site and then met for several days in an intense design session to create physical and planning adaptations that took into account sea level rise, severe storm and storm surge, preservation of historic and community character, economic assets and population projections, capacity of natural infrastructure and related benefits.

At the end of the four-day event, the teams of experts presented their conceptual designs and recommendations to a group of local stakeholders. Solutions offered were deemed appropriate for our region and worth further consideration. Excitement over the concepts was shared universally among participants. The ideas generated are valuable – as they help us to recognize and dissolve assumptions, think big, and inspire us to embark in new directions in our evolving discussions about the possibilities for regional and local resilience in South Florida.

Implementation Process

The East Dania Beach Boulevard site within the City of Dania Beach is representative of older urban development present along the US 1 (Federal Highway) corridor in South Florida. Dania Beach is considered a marine-based community with many small businesses, older housing stock, and middle- to lower middle-income families.

East Dania Beach Boulevard is an approximately two (2) mile long stretch of road that extends from the coastal ridge under US 1 east through a commercial property area. The road continues through an undeveloped low-lying wetland area, crosses the Intracoastal Waterway and connects to public facilities on the barrier island’s beach. The boulevard serves as one of three main corridors for the City of Dania Beach and is targeted for redevelopment as part of the Community Redevelopment Agency’s planning efforts. The adjacent beach is highly used by residents and tourists.

Dania Beach Boulevard is an evacuation route for adjacent residential areas as well as the barrier island community within the City of Hollywood. Much of the existing road is below the base flood elevation. Dania Beach Boulevard is not only subject to temporary flooding during and after rain events, but it is also at risk of flooding from storm surge and sea level rise – as it is located adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean.

The area is ready for much needed redevelopment but faces challenges and opportunities associated with increasing the resilience of infrastructure in close proximity to natural coastal infrastructure. However, future redevelopment within the community and in adjacent communities raises concerns regarding increased traffic and limited parking with city planners. In general, areas of potential improvement include an increase in urban activities, more pedestrian access, lighted areas and further redevelopment of the beach facilities, expansion of green space and increased resilience in water supply, electrical utilities and evacuation routes.

The Design Team immediately identified the underutilization of assets and economic opportunities at the site. The area has the potential to take advantage of the highly attractive adjacent natural infrastructure, including the beach and wetland area, the expansion of the Fort Lauderdale International Airport, the forthcoming passenger rail, the expansion of Port Everglades as a part of the Post-Panamax plan, and the estimated 40% increase in population growth. Additionally, the existing infrastructure and drainage systems have limited resiliency to flooding, severe storms and climate change and are ripe for redevelopment. With the intent of designing solutions for the challenges faced by the community, the Design Team manifested a local plan with consideration of a regional context.

The primary design concepts focused on interconnectivity, urban densification in the most naturally resilient area, enhancement and multi-purposing of the natural infrastructure, and flood control. Some of the resulting recommendations are discussed below.

The Boulevard should connect the resources and economic opportunities of the community while improving access and community interaction. The road should be development into a scenic road with landscaped promenades accessible by multiple modes of transportation, i.e. pedestrian, bicycle, car and boat. By connecting the City Center located on the coastal ridge along US 1 to the beach, the boulevard will cater to both the residents and visitors starting at the transit-oriented development and transporting them to a great destination, a resilient shoreline and lively beach.

City Hall, the library, the forthcoming railway station and the historic buildings need to become the heart of the city. Fortunately, these structures are already located on the highest elevation and most resilient property in the area. Investments should continue to be made along the coastal ridge, which is 5-7 feet higher than other areas, to add density to residences in the area as population increases. Transportation Oriented Development with integration of resilient energy infrastructure is key to community stability. As such, the marina corridor along Dania Cut canal should be expanded, connecting the City Center to additional economic opportunity and lodging for tourists.

In order to provide protection to low-lying communities not located near the City Center or economic opportunity area, polders should be developed to provide flood protection against stormwater and sea level rise for as long as practical. The community inside the polder is protected by levees and remains dry due to continuous pumping. These lower density communities could be maintained as long as practical. In time, these communities could learn to live with surface water inside and relocate residences as necessary.

 

Implementation Funding

Broward County has been able to submit the Resilient Redesign Refinement with Dania Beach to the EPA. In December of 2014 we received word that the EPA selected the Resilient Redesign Refinement with Dania Beach for funding. The details of the program plan still have to be worked out, but basically we will be receiving technical assistance through the EPA and we will be aided by contracted university partners to develop and apply decision models to help refine the resilient redesign plan with expanded stakeholder engagement and preliminary evaluation of cost-benefit scenarios.

 

Policy Language

The objective of the Resilient Redesign project was to begin to lay the foundation for planning and infrastructure investments as part of a community resiliency strategy with design concepts that can be integrated into development and redevelopment opportunities. Coordinated efforts in resilience will help to improve the integrity of our infrastructure and the safety of our communities by reducing risk and the potential for economic losses and disruptions.