The city is already growing fast and primed for significant expansion over the next decade.

Miami has long been South Florida’s focal point, as it receives most of the media attention and is where many big corporations and startups alike look for office space in the area. In contrast, Fort Lauderdale has long been stereotyped as a spring break destination and a snowbird haven filled with yachts, thanks mainly to its gorgeous beaches and oceanfront resorts.

These perceptions are shifting, though. Fort Lauderdale is establishing itself as a world-class destination for businesses in its own right—thanks in large part to the development of its downtown area. This zone has undergone a facelift in recent years, leading to new job creation and an influx of residents. It’s all helping change Fort Lauderdale’s leisure-exclusive reputation.

Here’s a look at how Fort Lauderdale could look in 2030 and what it means for CRE investment. 

Fort Lauderdale’s commercial growth

Downtown Fort Lauderdale’s growth has seemingly come out of nowhere—in 2015, just 17,164 square feet of commercial space was under development. But by 2020, downtown had 356,948 square feet of new commercial construction in the works, a growth rate of nearly 2,000%.

According to the International Downtown Association, these development numbers, along with population growth, job density, and value per square mile, put downtown Fort Lauderdale in the same realm as cities like San Francisco, Santa Monica, Pittsburgh, and Miami. The stats also show that downtown Fort Lauderdale is more important to its region than similar areas in Atlanta, Charlotte, and Dallas.

This growth isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, either, as the Fort Lauderdale Downtown Development Authority has recently revealed renderings of how the city’s skyline could look in 2030. These plans show more than 20 new developments in the area in the next eight years, including 600,000 square feet for retail and restaurants, 1.1 million square feet of office space, 13,000 new residential units, and 1,000 new hotel rooms

Another aspect worth noting from these plans is the Florida Panthers Ice Den. This project involves the complete restoration of the 72-year-old War Memorial Auditorium, located at Holiday Park by the NHL franchise. The team will use the revitalized building as a practice facility.

The Panthers currently play out of the BB&T Center in Sunrise but are experiencing some attendance issues, partially due to the arena’s remote location in the Everglades. While the Ice Den may not be large enough to accommodate the NHL team, the Panthers’ lease in Sunrise expires in 2028. And rumors persist that the team is exploring a permanent move to Fort Lauderdale. Construction of a new events center in the city’s downtown would undoubtedly drive even more growth.

In short, downtown Fort Lauderdale is about to get a whole lot busier, which could open up more opportunities for investors.

What this means for the population

The one factor bucking Fort Lauderdale’s growth narrative is its relatively modest population, as the city only has about 180,000 residents. It’s worth noting, though, that Broward County’s overall population is over 1.9 million.

In addition, downtown Fort Lauderdale’s population has grown by 41% since 2010, including a 43% gain in those aged 25 to 44. And it will undoubtedly expand further in the next 10 years, reflecting the 13,000 new residential units that will begin appearing in the city. 

These new residences should be necessary because of the area’s growing job market. The downtown area has already experienced a 33% rise in finance jobs, a 16% uptick in the professional service industry, and a 10% increase in tech jobs between 2018 and 2020. Major downtown residential projects by Related Group, Kushner Companies, and PMG are already underway.

Investing in Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale should provide outstanding investment opportunities in the coming years, and it appears as though some heavy hitters are taking notice of the city’s potential. And while office space in Miami is in great demand, the desire to set up shop in SoFlo isn’t limited to the Magic City. In fact, investors would be wise to look for opportunities in both cities as South Florida’s economic growth continues.

In short, yes: Fort Lauderdale is primed to step out of Miami’s shadow. But Miami remains a great market, too.

Morris Southeast Group can assist as you identify and research potential investment opportunities in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and the rest of South Florida. We’re keeping tabs on Fort Lauderdale’s rapid growth and can what this means for investors. 

Contact Morris Southeast Group at 954.474.1776 with questions or more information about our services. You can also reach Ken Morris directly at 954.240.4400 or