Beyond the Beach

City of Deerfield Beach, FL
Written by Mark Golombek

Deerfield Beach, in the state of Florida, is in a unique position. Ideally located on the Atlantic coast of South Florida, this city by the ocean is an undiscovered gem…
Unlike most beach communities in Florida, there are no high-rise buildings to impede a sunrise view. You can park your car and get to the sand within a minute. Considerable strides in development are taking place, and many businesses are setting up shop here while existing business flourishes. Business in Focus spoke with City Manager Burgess Hanson and Vice Mayor Bill Ganz to find out more.

Broward County is most well-known for Fort Lauderdale but also contains, as its northeast-most city, Deerfield Beach. The award-winning beach is one mile long and has one of the nicest fishing piers in South Florida.

“Our beach is unique compared to the rest of South Florida. From West Palm Beach to Miami, what you see are a lot of high-rise condominiums or hotels/resorts until you get into Deerfield. We are mainly low-rise with only one or two what are considered as mid-rise hotels or condos. Also, our entire beachfront is accessible directly from our city streets off of Ocean Way,” said City Manager Burgess Hanson.

Unlike most of South Florida, in Deerfield Beach, you can pull into a parking spot, walk ten feet and stand on sand. Hotels and private developments typically cut access to the beach throughout most of the state. Not here.

Beyond the beach, Deerfield Beach offers quite a few amenities. It has the 431-acre Quiet Waters Park with mountain bike trails, soccer fields and a cable water-ski attraction. The park also hosts the annual Florida Renaissance Festival, one of the largest in the State of Florida. Hanson says, “At the Renaissance festival, they dress up in medieval garb with different vendors and all kinds of exciting entertainment.”

There is a range of quality housing options in Deerfield Beach with everything from elegant condominium units to single-family homes either on the golf courses or on the barrier island. Two years ago, Deerfield Beach was featured as one of the most affordable South Florida cities, although that is rapidly changing.

The City Manager also spoke about the momentum they’re beginning to see in Deerfield Beach. “I just spoke to a realtor today. She sold a condo back in September across the street from the beach for about $450,000. That same unit sold last week for over $800,000. We are seeing that type of momentum in our residential purchases.”

When the economy took a downturn, the City was able to continue with some development projects. A complete overhaul of the Deerfield Beach International Fishing Pier was completed, and Sullivan Park received a makeover. The park is on the Intracoastal Waterway and now joins a shopping area to finger docks, water equipment rentals and other attractions. Now that the economy is improving, other projects are underway.

Many projects have the City’s Vice Mayor, Bill Ganz, incredibly proud. “Coming out of this bad economy, things have improved. We were able to get a head start and are seeing a lot of growth in the city. What people are realizing, here in Deerfield Beach, is that there are a lot of different opportunities. We have a beach that is the finest in all of South Florida and, on top of that, there are a lot of great places to work here in the city.”

In Deerfield Beach, there are several areas of growth. People’s Trust Insurance has its headquarters in the city, and a significant expansion is happening in the next year. Vehicle distribution company, JM Family Enterprises Inc., has been touted as one of the best places to work in the U.S., and its expansion plans are progressing.

The University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Centre is undergoing an expansion, and Broward Health North is about to begin a $76 million renovation and expansion of the regional Hospital facility in the City. There is also a 134-room, four-star hotel that will be going up this year in the Cove Shopping area, which is on the Intracoastal Waterway.

The city boasts a number of business opportunities with a choice of industrial and commercial parks along the I-95 and Florida’s Turnpike, and yet a balance must be made between growth and preserving the attributes that made the city what it is. Increasing the population, and therefore, the tax base, will allow it to enhance programs and facilities in the city. It is a challenge, as Burgess explains, to choose the right talent and development to grow while maintaining that hometown feel that everyone in the city has grown to love.

“It would be very easy to just approve any development regardless of its fit with the locale and doing it from a strictly economic standpoint,” said Vice Mayor Ganz. “But, finding that balance, having the ability to navigate through that and making sure to pick the right economic catalysts, is one of the things I think, as a city, we have gotten pretty good at.”

An outstanding staff provides the commission with some excellent research. It is always a gamble when approving a project and trying to ensure it fits with the city, but with due diligence and community outreach, Deerfield Beach is not growing blindly. The city commission does an excellent job of communicating with both citizens and the business community, forming partnerships and making all of the various needs of the city come together.



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