Creating Space for Opportunities

by Rose Farrone
originally published February 2019 at

The 13th Street corridor is a community on the rise and a natural corridor in the middle of Fort Lauderdale, one of the next up and coming spots. While some of the city is experiencing new development, the 13th street area in Fort Lauderdale is focused on the middle. The middle is not just referring to a location but also the middle in economics, especially for new unique businesses. This corridor is providing new businesses the opportunity to move into older buildings made to look new again. The tenants have the ability to start with a clean slate and create their own space. These old buildings have souls and are affordable and that’s why they are in high demand. Community developer Abby Laughlin has a vision for 13th Street. “This is the second generation of transformation here,” explained Laughlin. The community has been hard at work on the 13th Street Corridor, not just one building at a time, but the entire street. The once obvious metal bars are no longer on the windows. The buildings have a fresh coat of paint and soon many more of these spaces will have new big windows and doors to welcome shoppers. After the first renovation was complete, neighboring businesses joined in with new paint and landscaping. The 13th Street Corridor is considered the spine that connects the neighboring areas of Flagler Village, Wilton Manors and Poinsettia Heights. Since the renewal of the corridor, these neighboring communities are more cohesive and connected. Considered the anchor, Milk Money Bar & Kitchen is described as a cozy neighborhood cocktail bar and full-service restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and late-night dishes. You can relax in the outdoor seating or enjoy one of their famous cocktails at the bar, you can’t make a wrong choice. “These anchors are engaging and exciting and invite others to come along,” says Colleen Lockwood, a resident.
Located in the same mixed-use building, Buck & Beard offers hair services in an environment where post-industrial and modern luxury collide. With ten chairs and 17 barbers, you will walk out feeling happy and looking amazing. Wandering down the street, you will see murals from Project COAT (Community of Artists Transform). Project COAT transforms streets into galleries. When you are ready to go inside, Oddballs Nifty Thrift is a welcome surprise. What feels like endless rooms with eclectic items from a variety of eras is a place you could spend hours. Whether you shop or grab a seat at the game table, be sure to inquire with the friendly owners about the craft beer and wine.
The first transformation of 13th Street was the inclusion of bike lanes, public art and green spaces, making it a pedestrian-friendly street. Watching the city invest in this area, Laughlin knew this was the location for her next project.
This corridor is filled with opportunities. Continuing on the street, Laughlin’s vision for the available spaces is clear. “Every available location has a story – this space will soon be a bakery – this space a juice bar – this space an art gallery and this space a restaurant with an outdoor café,” beamed Laughlin. A unique shipping container plot is already in the works, creating new opportunities in an underused openspace. What keeps this urban community unique is the stock of affordable housing. “This area is a breath of fresh air,” says Laughlin. Affordable housing is offering renters a place to step into home ownership while staying close to downtown. There is hope for an additional Tri-Rail stop in the area and desire to create a project near the railroad tracks similar to Mockingbird Trail. The overall desire is to replicate the example of a community organizing a recreational and cultural space for all – a place where people can mix it up. What’s next for the 13th Street Corridor? The possibilities are limitless.