Plans for a beautification project along Las Olas Boulevard, atop the Henry E. Kinney Tunnel, seem to be finally moving forward! City leaders have mulled over the Las Olas Tunnel Top Plaza project for two decades. However, a confluence of events might help the project come to fruition.
The $11.6 million proposed cost will come from the $200 million parks bond that voters approved March 2019. If all goes smoothly, the beautification project will be created in conjunction with a $16 million refurbishment of the state-owned tunnel by the Florida Department of Transportation.
Four Distinct Spaces
Plans for the new Las Olas outdoor space shows it blending seamlessly with Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk, which starts in front of The Symphony condo building on north side of New River and extends over a mile to the historic Stranahan House. Once completed, the area will be divided into four distinct spaces:
- Laura Ward Plaza, an existing open space that sits along the New River between the Riverside Hotel and Stranahan House. The area includes tent staging for Stranahan House events.
- Cheesecake Factory Plaza, an existing wide sidewalk space with trees and outdoor seating for the restaurant.
- Icon Plaza, an existing wide sidewalk space with water features.
- Tunnel Top Plaza, a new space that will sit atop an extended Henry E. Kinney tunnel entrance to the north. By extending the tunnel wall 117 feet, it should reduce traffic noise coming from the tunnel and create better sight lines for pedestrians and drivers. The area is expected to have expansive green spaces, seating areas and architectural features.
- $4.1 million tunnel extension 117 feet to the north.
- $2.05 million for work on four park sections:
- Tunnel Top Plaza: $625,000.
- Laura Ward Plaza: $600,000.
- Cheesecake Factory Plaza: $410,000.
- Icon Plaza: $415,000.
- $1.5 million to raise Las Olas Boulevard and Southeast Sixth Avenue.
- $1 million for reconstruction of a ventilation building and removal of an FPL utility vault.
- $1 million for landscaping.
- $2 million contingency for cost overruns.
According to Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Ben Sorensen, the project could start as early as June 2021. Completion of the Las Olas Tunnel Top Plaza is expected to take two years. When finished, residents with Las Olas Homes, neighbors and visitors will have a beautiful area to enjoy!