Since it was profiled last year in Business in Focus, the Town of Davie in Broward County, Florida, continues to blossom and grow. Largely undeveloped swampland until the twentieth century, Davie currently boasts a highly-educated workforce, a Town Council with a pro-business mindset and an excellent location. It is safe to say that Davie is on the move.
“The areas where we’ve seen the most activity are in our downtown corridor and the Academical Village. At the Academical Village, the hospital has broken ground, and they’ve started on their foundation. The estimated time for completion is mid-2021. They will start pouring concrete from August to December,” states Assistant Town Administrator Phillip Holste.
The Academical Village is a 2.5-million-square-foot project that will have space for research facilities, university and medical offices and commercial enterprises. Davie hopes to entice healthcare staff and other professionals to use the site once it is completed. As Holste notes, the village will also feature a 150-bed hospital that is being built by Nova Southeastern University (NSU) in conjunction with the Town of Davie.
NSU – one of several colleges and universities serving the Davie area – is involved in a public-private partnership (P3) to construct student housing as well. The goal is to open the new campus residence space “prior to next school year in August of 2019,” states Holste.
Other significant projects include the expansion of the Davie Business Center, a facility that will consist of more than one million square feet of industrial/commercial space. Developers are currently finishing construction of a third building at the center. Last year, Carnival Cruise Line opened a rehearsal facility for the company’s on-board entertainers in existing space at the business center.
Other major construction projects going on in Davie include three mixed use projects known as Main Street and a pediatric therapy facility, Therapeeds.
There is plenty of less visible development going on as well. The Town has initiated extensive work on drainage systems for the community and is formulating a beautification initiative for the Downtown Davie Road corridor. This project involves installing landscape medians, wider sidewalks and new entry way signage.
Holste says there are many reasons that a business would want to set up or expand in Davie. “You get a highly-educated population [when you need] a workforce … We have residents who have the economic means to support businesses, whether small or large. In terms of locating your business in the Town, we’re business friendly … [Local officials assist companies] to make sure their permitting process is seamless and work with them to meet their needs.”
As Holste points out, Davie is an academic-minded community. As well as NSU, Florida Atlantic University, McFatter Technical College, Broward College and the University of Florida have a presence in the area. Nearly a third of the Town’s residents have at least a bachelor’s degree.
Davie’s population as of 2016, was 101,857, with a median age of 36.9 years which is younger than the Florida median of 42.1 years. The median household income in Davie in 2016 was $64,986 compared to the Florida median of $50,860.
The median value of a condominium or house in 2016, as estimated by www.city-data.com, was $273,700 – versus $197,700 for Florida as a whole. Davie is set on providing affordable housing for all residents. The Town has an exclusionary zoning ordinance that stipulates if a company builds more than one hundred units, it must either offer funding for affordance housing or make a portion of the project affordable.
Businesses appreciate Davie’s government incentives and convenient location. Davie is situated near I-595, I-75 and Ronald Reagan Turnpike. The Town is only a few minutes from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and is close to Port Everglades, deepest port in the state.
As for incentives, the Town of Davie offers incentives within its Community Redevelopment Area such as property improvement and rental reimbursement grants for businesses moving to or expanding within the redevelopment area. On top of this, the Town’s tax rate is low while municipal officials have a pro-business attitude.
In terms of the type of business Davie hopes to attract, Holste takes an expansive view. “We look for a broad breadth of businesses to support what’s going on in Davie, and we don’t focus on one particular industry. We’re a centralized hub for industries doing importing/exporting. Honestly, we don’t focus on a particular one [type of business]. We’re open to all,” he says.
Noteworthy private businesses in Town include Teva Pharmaceuticals, a generic drug manufacturer and Stryker, which specializes in medical devices and equipment.
Davie Town Council passed its first comprehensive strategic plan in 2010. “Basically, what we’re doing at this point, we’ve hired a firm that’s working with us to reinvigorate the plan. They’re going through the process in line with our budgetary process to have a revamped strategic plan starting in fiscal year 2019,” states Holste.
In addition to being business-friendly, Davie is a family-friendly place, thanks in part to its extensive park system, excellent schools and community spirit.
“The Town is committed to parks and open space and trails. About ten percent of the Town is set aside as park or open space by the Town and Broward County. We have over forty parks for residents to enjoy with their family. All the Davie schools are A or B rated, from elementary on up to high school. From an education perspective, you have many opportunities. Kids can stay within their neighborhood and go to school,” he says.
Davie is proud of its greenspace and boasts nearly 200 miles of trails that are open to joggers, bicyclists, hikers and equestrians. The Miami Dolphins use the campus of Nova Southeastern University for its training camp.
Davie is always looking to enhance its outdoor/athletic offerings, and “just built two artificial turf fields, so residents can play year-round,” at the Bamford Sports Complex, one of the main recreation facilities in Davie. The artificial turf fields will not get waterlogged in rainstorms, Holste adds.
Additional local attractions include the Young at Art Museum and Flamingo Gardens, a sixty-acre, non-profit combined wildlife sanctuary and botanical garden. The museum, based in Davie, offers exhibitions and education with a focus on raising the children’s awareness of the potential of art.
There is plenty of history and community spirit in Davie, and it appeals to residents and tourists alike. The Town features an annual, two-day Orange Blossom Festival that celebrates the area’s agricultural roots. In the fall, Davie hosts the Southeastern Circuit Pro Rodeo Finals.
The Old Davie School also remains a chief visitor attraction. The facility is oldest school in the Florida Everglades and just celebrated its hundredth anniversary. “The Old Davie School brings in 40,000 people a year for their events. They hold musical events and events that celebrate [the Town’s] history such as Generations of Taste Cooking Competition and Old Davie Christmas,” he says.
The Town is currently growing at an annualized rate of about one and a half percent, says Holste. While happy to increase its population at a slow, steady pace, the Town of Davie is also eager to show off its attributes via social media.
“We utilize the Town’s website and social media – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – to interact, communicate, and disseminate information to our residents and businesses. We’re also a member of the Davie-Cooper City Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance which is an economic development group. We distribute the weekly newsletter, Davie E-Update and also the Davie Update Magazine which is sent out three times per year,” states Holste.
“I think the biggest challenge, like a lot of municipalities, is infrastructure. Trying to build new infrastructure and [maintain] the infrastructure you have … We have new areas which are great, but at same time, we have older areas that require new utilities, drainage, resurfacing or rehabilitating roadways. That’s always the biggest challenge – having enough dollars to fund and maintain our infrastructure,” he states.
Unfortunately, a measure to impose a very small sales tax, with funds going to support infrastructure, was not approved. However, Holste hopes the quick pace of development in Davie will continue into the future.
“I want to be in a position where the hospital is completely built, we’re done with first phase of the Academical Village, and we’ve redeveloped the downtown,” says Holste of where he sees the Town in five years. “I would love to see the downtown Davie corridor revitalized. The vision has been there for a couple decades. I would like to see it come to fruition for the downtown.”