The unfortunate decimation of the quaint beachfront of Fort Lauderdale continues despite the fact that most new development has been arrested by the reversal of the real estate market.
We took a walk along that stretch of Route A1A that runs along the beach on the barrier island in the neighborhood of the gay guest houses. We were surprised to see that The Natchez, a New Orleans style guesthouse has been demolished. We suspect that the developers will now wait a few years before thinking about erecting whatever tasteless behemoth they had in mind.
Next door, the old Howard Johnson’s is still standing but it is empty and stripped of its emblematic restaurant cupola and of all signage that bore its name.
Meanwhile, one block over, the new Trump building is already up but not completed. It looks like one hull of a hulking hull of a ship. I bet they are nervous about the market for it.
Here is a good example of the sort of frightening replacements that have sprung up in the last five years: the clunky La Cascade with its gruesome faux Spanish make-up and faked grill work over flat panels where there should be windows.
Some favorites remain. Here is The Premiere where the neon still glows at dusk. (The fabulous Birch Tower behind it has lost much of its ocean view because of the new Hilton and the W on A1A). You can still lounge by the pool at The Premiere if you don’t mind gazing at the overflowing dumpster. Little uncomfortable details like that multiple in this neighborhood and are signs of psychological abandonment that mark its demise.
Some of the lovable old silliness remains:
We came upon this beautiful and flawless turquoise GE stove that had been put out with the trash. If only I had room for it, I’d have strapped it to my back and brought it home. I thought of how much Eddie would have loved it. He probably would have found a way to fit it into his luggage.
Here is the Blue Dolphin, a minor example of the old Fort Lauderdale.
My quick renovation gets rid of the front parking, replaces the bad replacement windows, adds central air, clears the encroachments, trashes the ugly awning and restores what I suspect would have been the original parapet over the entrance.
Where A1A meets Sunrise Boulevard there is a little cluster of honkytonkness where all that is left in terms of commerce are the sellers of tattoos, bikinis, and pizza. Many of its buildings are empty. This little suffering corner is now prime to become a gay oasis serving the two dozen gay guesthouses that are within walking distance, and drawing residents from Wilton Manors who ought to have a place on the beach where they can mingle with tourists.
This building in particular would make a great café/bar. (Behind it is the Holiday Inn, also now empty.) Its twin across the street had been a popular biker bar with French doors on the second level opening up onto the narrow wrap-around balcony with filigreed wrought iron railings. It is also closed. A deco version of that same idea would work well here.
I just don't know where this town is headed, but it is so easy not to think about it when there is sun on the sea, and that is almost every day.