Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
By Larry Barszewski
Published January 4 , 2017
As the city approves new housing to lure residents in, it
is trying to make sure loud music doesn't drive them out.
A downtown building boom is creating hundreds of apartments and condominiums
within shouting distance of bars and other late night party venues, while
the construction of new hotels will mean more visitors looking for places to
The challenge is to get everyone living in harmony.
"I think the more people out and on the street, the better the place. It's
all about finding the right balance," said downtown condo resident Ralph
Stone, who doesn't want to be disturbed late at night by excessive noise
from the city's Himmarshee entertainment district on Southwest Second
Consultants hired by the city say it needs to pay more attention to its
night scene — even going so far as to have a "night mayor" — to assure
better planning, publicizing and monitoring of events, along with improved
coordination between hospitality-related districts.
Tarpon Bend Food and Tackle in downtown Fort Lauderdale celebrated itself on
Aug. 14 with a Sweet 16 party. City commissioners have said they won't be
allowing any more events to have outdoor bands or DJs performing after 11
p.m. -- even downtown in the Himmarshee entertainment district -- because
the late-night music is disturbing residents.
Jim Peters of the Responsible Hospitality Institute is expected to make a
presentation in February to commissioners, who will then decide what steps
the city should adopt.
Peters said the city's nightlife has a huge economic impact, so it's
important to have someone overseeing what's happening and a team on the job
at night making sure noise, alcohol consumption, public safety and other
regulations are adequate and being followed.
Peters has done similar work around the country, including in Delray Beach,
which hired a full-time night coordinator last year. His recommendations are
currently under review in Orlando.
"This whole idea of a night manager, a night mayor, is something cities are
beginning to realize they need to embrace," Peters said.
Peters has also suggested reducing the reliance on off-duty police officers
to provide security at nighttime establishments. Instead, it may be better
for the venues to provide private security while the city beefs up the
presence of on-duty police officers, he said.
At the same time, improved lighting, transforming on-street parking spaces
in front of entertainment venues into outdoor seating areas and coordinating
events in different parts of the city can also work to make them appealing
destinations for visitors.
"Hospitality zones, entertainment zones — whatever you want to call them —
are economic drivers for the city," said Genia Ellis, president of Riverwalk
And while some residents have concerns, others are pushing for lively
"Those residents are skewing to the millennials. They want entertainment,"
said Tim Petrillo of The Restaurant People, which owns a number of
establishments in the city including Tarpon Bend, YOLO and S3.
Petrillo is concerned developers too often are selling the lifestyle of
living near restaurants and bars without warning of the reality of living
near those venues. He likes a suggestion that future residences in such
areas be required to have better insulation to keep noise out.
"If we don't start getting ahead of this, it could be a disaster," Petrillo
said. He fears if the city doesn't set up workable rules before more people
arrive, officials may overreact when problems arise and clamp down too hard
on night businesses.
Nightlife is already expanding in the city, from the long-standing
entertainment districts downtown west of Andrews Avenue and others on the
beach, to emerging venues like Flagler Village, Southeast Seventeenth Street
and North Beach Restaurants and Shoppes.
Marjorie Ferrer, a consultant who previously headed Delray Beach's Downtown
Development Authority, said Fort Lauderdale's older districts were created
to bring people back to areas that weren't developed yet. Now growth is
"Fort Lauderdale has a tsunami of influx between the new hotels and new
residences coming up," Ferrer said. "It could be the beginning of an
exciting time, but it still has to be managed."
Peters said many of the emerging areas — like FAT Village's warehouse art
district near the railroad tracks and Sistrunk Boulevard — are places that
were never designed for the number of people and kinds of activities they're
That means they're going to have more safety, lighting and other
infrastructure needs. But they're also the kind of unique places that will
make a name for the city, Peters said.
"Naturally, that kind of environment is also something that's inviting to
that avante-garde consumer that's looking for that latest trendy place,"
Stanley Eichelbaum, president of the Downtown Fort Lauderdale Civic
Association, has seen — and heard — the increasing number of entertainment
"There's an appreciation of entertainment, but there's a right to quiet
habitats for residents," Eichelbaum said. "Late at night, you aren't allowed
to do a lot of things. And sound is one the things that has to be sensibly